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Danny Wallace on finally discovering a benefit to Brexit

"If I'm right, I think your glasses might be highly flammable"

Danny Wallace on finally discovering a benefit to Brexit
30 May 2018

I have bought a new pair of glasses frames, right? And they’re vintage, so they need new lenses in them. So I pop into a high-street opticians and ask them if they can do it for me.

“I’m sure we can!” they say, which is a relief, but I have to have an eye test first.

So I take my glasses off and do the eye test, and it turns out I need glasses, so I put my glasses back on and tell them I’d like to order some.

“Oh,” says the lady, looking at my frames. “Oh dear, I can’t see a stamp.”

I think she needs an eye test. She clearly thinks she’s holding a letter.

“A stamp?” I say.

“It needs to have a safety stamp on it,” she says. “For safety.”

“Oh,” I say, but really, does it?

I mean, how dangerous can a pair of glasses be?

“Are they very old?” she says, looking concerned and being lovely. “It’s just that if I’m right, I think your glasses might be highly flammable.”

I frown.

Highly flammable?

Highly flammable glasses?

“It’s the plastic,” she says, but listen here, madam: I have never, ever heard of highly flammable glasses. Never once have I been talking to one of my bespectacled brethren only to watch in horror as suddenly their glasses caught fire. You don’t see people at book festivals or comics conventions suddenly catching light and screaming their way through a crowd so they can hurl themselves into a water fountain.

A couple of combustible nerds on a hot day and summer would be ruined! No, glasses are not highly flammable, even if this ‘expert’ is telling me they are.

“So my glasses are highly flammable?” I say, very dubiously.

“It’s the plastic,” she says again, her face a picture of concern, like we should immediately place these in a bucket of water and stand well back. “They need to have that European Safety mark. Can you see it on there?”

I dunno what she’s asking me for. I’m the one who needs glasses. But I look and no, it’s not there.

“Shall I check with some people and see if we can do it anyway?” she says.

“No, don’t worry,” I say, because I know how this works. It is highly unlikely that having just discovered my glasses are flammable, the opticians’ head office would think it over, and then say, “Well, internationally agreed rules are internationally agreed rules, but go on, sod it, and hang the courts: just this once we’ll make someone some flammable eyewear.”

“Well, let me check anyway,” says the lady, “and we’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

And as I leave the opticians, cursing my lack of a European Safety mark, I suddenly see the truth of the matter.

The hand of Europe!

“If I’m right, I think your glasses might be highly flammable”

For years I have been told they have been meddling in our affairs, with made-up stories of straight bananas and 2000 directives about the health and safety of pillows and whatnot. But now I see with my own two eyes that my own two eyes have been made to suffer their sinister bureaucracy.

Two years ago, as the UK stumbled myopically into voting booths, blinded by rhetoric, I too assumed that there was nothing about Brexit for me.

But had I, true to form, merely been short-sighted?

Because now I see clearly for the first time: Brexit will be of direct benefit to me.

From March next year, I will be able to wear my highly flammable glasses!

Oh, how I will enjoy going back to this high-street opticians on 30 March 2019. I mean, if it hasn’t moved to Holland or somewhere.

“Oh hello,” I will say, taking my time. “One British pair of highly flammable glasses, if there’s no law against that!”

And the lovely woman will have no choice but to weld lenses into my deathtrap spectacles. And whether they catch fire in her machine or not, I will not be able to stop laughing, because finally I will be free of being bossed around by those Brussels bureaucrats and Belgian blotter-jotters!

Once a week I work in the same building and at the same time as the saviour of flammable eye furniture, Nigel Farage. I host a radio show at the same time that he hosts a radio show, in which he rails against the media elite, like people who host radio shows.

How I will run to him, and beg his forgiveness, and tell him I had lost sight of myself, and that it took having no glasses for me to see the error of my ways.

So I will bide my time. For now, I will wear my normal, safe, Remoaner spectacles. And when Brexit comes, and I switch over, and they catch fire, and I am left with nothing but the smouldering ashes and stench of burnt plastic and I have to squint so I can see?

At least I’ll be able to pretend that the quite obviously black passport in my hands is actually blue.

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(Image: Getty)