Magazine article The Spectator

Best Laid Plans

Magazine article The Spectator

Best Laid Plans

Article excerpt

Apart from going to the nearest town one afternoon to have teeth out, I hadn't been out of the village for six weeks. I might have been depressed about this normally, but a jolly outing I had entered and underlined in my diary for the end of January kept my spirits up. I was popping up to the metropolis to watch a football match -- an evening game, under floodlights.

Our new manager, whom the critics were, to start with, eager to write off as an ingénue, a loser, a chancer, even a chimpanzee, was proving to be a man of honour, wisdom, good humour and sanity. Under him, the team was playing attractive, thoughtful football again. And winning. We've become bitterly disillusioned with our football club in the past few years. Beginning with the spivs in the boardroom, it appeared that the rot had spread down through every level, even as far as the outsourced disc-jockey. But since Christmas, on the pitch, a miracle has been unfolding before our very eyes. The team just gets better and better and some of us are starting to believe. I couldn't wait to get up there and see them play again.

The journey to the stadium involves a half-hour drive to the station, a three-hour train ride to Paddington, then an hour by Tube. I'd pre-booked the trains and match tickets. All I had to do was show up on time at the station and enjoy the day. But things didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped.

Just before I left the house I put in a new pair of contact lenses. I change them once a month. Each lens has a different strength: one is for reading and close work, the other for distance. Getting them in and settled can be a fiddly job, and somehow I got them mixed up and put them in the wrong eyes.

As I was already cutting it a bit fine for the station, I left them in and decided to do the switch on the train.

With the contact lenses in the wrong eyes, I could see things close to, such as newsprint, with startling clearness. The countryside beyond the railway line and embankment was a blur, however. A mirror was essential, so once aboard the train I went along to the lavatory at the end of the carriage and locked myself in. Then I pinched the right lens out of my eye and placed it in the upturned cap of my bottle of water, which I placed beside the sink and filled with water. …

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