There are a number of severe and heartbreaking problems with being British. We are a nation of fat, abusive drunks, no-one can afford to buy a house, we pay £1.10 for a litre of petrol, £3 for a pint of awful, awful British real ale, £7.50 for a Happy Meal in a service station, and none of us will ever be as good as Stephen Fry, who is both the epitome of Britishness and bloody awesome. But most of all, we're just so fucking polite and reserved and cripplingly self-conscious, something which has suddenly made life even more expensive for me. Let me elaborate.
So I go and get my eyes tested, as I have noticed of late that when things around me get a little blurry, I can no longer bring them into sharp focus by removing myself from the vicinity of a gin bottle. And although looking at the world through a soft-focus lens has made me feel pleasantly befuddled, I thought it was probably time to confront the harsh realities of life once again, and maybe occasionally read a road sign or two. Lo and behold, the nice optician informs me that yes, I am slightly short-sighted, and yes, my life would be completely and utterly revolutionised by wearing some glasses now and then. Wonderful, I thought, giddy with my new ability to focus cleanly on a pigeon listlessly harassing a cigarette butt right on the other side of the road. "OK, fantastic!" I trilled, and suddenly, I was swooped upon by a maniacal money-making machine disguised as a pleasant young woman. No-one could mistake her demonic android eyes burning brightly through her admittedly rather lovely glasses. No-one, it seemed, apart from me, which is where my trouble started...
"Let's find you some frames," she sighed happily. I looked around with a rising sense of panic and noted some of the names written on small, tasteful signs on the walls. Prada, Chanel, D&G, Ted Baker... I desperately scanned for a lifeline, maybe something labelled economy, NHS, or even some over-sized children's pair - god bless childhood obesity creating a generation of fatheads! - but no. I was in Vision Express, not the place that years of advertising had obviously failed to convince me I should have gone. So I succumbed, tried on various pairs, made appreciative noises, listened to and completely disregarded the android's perfunctory style tips, and ended with a set of specs which, if you'll excuse the vanity and Americanisms, were aiming for nerd-chic and landed squarely in dork. Which cost £4,000 (maybe). And I was powerless to do anything about it.
Except no. No! I was NOT powerless! This was MY £4,000 (maybe) and I could've chosen to spend it how I wished! So why did I not hightail it with my prescription and run to a cheaper place? Why did I not politely request to see their more basic selections, seeing as I was instructed only to wear the damn things when driving, watching TV or staring at a computer, all of which I mostly do either alone or in the company of the young man who is legally obliged not to retch whatever I look like? Because I am British. And I was too polite to interrupt the manic mechanoid's sales pitch, I was too embarrassed to admit the entire stock was way out of my budget, and too self-conscious to try and impose my flimsy will on the situation. A tiny voice in the back of my mind (N-la, I think it was you) was telling me that I didn't really even need glasses in the first place. But it was drowned out by the huge farting oaf of Britishness, blaring like a klaxon in all sections of my brain, rendering me incapable of doing anything but shovel all my money straight down the gullet of a corporate eyeglass behemoth. I absolutely refuse to believe that any other nationality would behave in such a ridiculous manner.
But hey, like the cliched wars of old, the damn Yanks came to the rescue again. Stuck the whole thing on my Visa card, which has aided me in many, many fits of Britishness before. God bless America!