i am beginning to get used to odd requests or offers as i walk down the street.
it almost seems normal now.
there i was walking home minding my own business and getting wet in the persistent drizzle. a voice. "boss" (it is the generic term that seems to have replaced 'mate' when talking to anyone) "boss can i ask you something?" i stop. turn to the voice. it is a late 20s, early 30s chunky asian guy. normally the 'can i ask you something?' gambit is a prelude to: can you give me money. a question that never bothers me these days as i have none, so don't feel guilty when i say: no.
so i say sure you can.
"boss i really like your glasses. can i have them?"
well this left me a little gobsmacked on several fronts. my glasses are pretty bog standard - in fact they seem to be one of the endless variation of the common bland oblong style that has ruled the roost for so long (how i wish i could get a pair of the old nhs specs); secondly they are old and are pretty much falling apart and thirdly they are prescription glasses and not much use to anyone but me.
the answer was simple.
"sorry you can't have them - i need them." i said to him.
"i was going to swap them for these." he shows me a pair of dodgy john lennon style sunglasses that appear to be held together by hope and wishes.
while i compliement the wreckage he has in his hand i tell him that they would be no use to me - as without the glasses i am wearing i can't see a thing.
"oh - but i really like them. it is not that there is anything wrong, just my eyes."
at which point i become all sensible (even though the survival part of my brain is cranking up the flight option).
my body has responded and i am walking a little faster.
he keeps pace.
i tell him if he has a problem with his eyes he doesn't want my glasses that will just lead to more problems for him. he isn't listening. he is just telling me that there isn't anything wrong, just his eyes and how he likes my glasses. i persist. you need to go to an opticians, if there is somethign wrong with your eyes you need to get them checked. seriously, don't fuck about with your eyes (i used fuck to show just how important i felt my statement was - didn't work).
"boss just asking because i like your glasses."
"that's ok, not to worry, just that i can't let you have them because i need them to see." i make a joke about not being able to see much at the moment because of the rain and needing window wipers. it fell on deaf ears.
walking just that bit faster now.
he still keeps pace.
shit he is goign to follow me home at this rate.
he goes through his spiel about liking my glasses and wanting them. i repeat that he needs to go to the opticians. even point out that the local hospital has a walkin centre where he might get the test free (see even in the face of growing panic - i am helpful). he doesn't care. he seems crestfallen that he can't have my glasses.
he asks again.
i tell him they won't do him any good and that i need them.
then as we come to the street before mine he turns off and wishes me goodnight and adds a forlorn "just wanted them because they looked good."
now i can't help wondering if i have the da vinci frames or something.
this time next year dan brown will be writing a bestselling novel about the secret of the universe as found in a pair of specsavers frames: just better not be mine - i still need them.