Tag Archives: French opticians

Escaping pigs and a contact lens in a haystack

Do you know who this guy is?

I’m impressed if you do. No?

I’ll give you a hint. Top selling singles artist of 2006. Hmm?

Still struggling? Don’t blame you. It’s Daniel Powter. Famous for the “Had a Bad Day” song. Oh my giddy aunt have I had a bad day. You’ll have to bear with me as I relate this. It’s a long, sorry tale of woe and misery.

Like most bad days it started early. I was shaken awake by my partner who informed me that one of the pigs had escaped. This particular pig (Maybelline) is heavily pregnant, about to give birth, and refuses to stay where she’s put. I should say at this stage our pigs are reared outdoors, which is virtually unheard of in France, and there are a lot of them, so we have a series of pens over a couple of acres where young, old, testicled and non-testicled pigs etc. are sectioned off as needed. Actually keeping them where they’re supposed to be is a constant struggle. Pigs are bloody clever.

After herding the pregnant pig back into her pen and fixing her gate (which she’d barged through) I set to the first job of the day, securing a second pen for two other pigs that needed to move because they’d turned their existing pen into a quagmire. Pigs are hard work, outdoor pigs quadruply so.

After working on this for a while and nearly finishing I popped off for my run, but my leg was bleeding and incredibly sore, so I jacked it in after 4km. I was a bit upset, but I figured it was best to rest my leg rather than push it. Wouldn’t want to have a bad day I though jovially to myself.

I am such an arse.

When I got back I returned to working on the second pig pen. As I sorted the fencing out I glanced down the field taking in the mid-morning view. To my surprise my eyes fell upon two pigs far away in the distance, the other side of the valley in a neighbours field. “I didn’t know our neighbours had pigs” I thought, absent mindedly to myself. “In fact” I thought further “they look a little….like…. our pigs”.

Expletive uttered.

I was now at a full sprint.

Yes, two other pigs had escaped, and were busy eating their way through our neighbour’s crops. As I ran, I could hear shooting. To add to the drama the local hunt were out and French hunters – normally drunk, careless and spoiling for a kill – would certainly take a pot shot at anything boar-like. Or me. Calling for assistance from the runthomasrun family we all hurtled into action, rounded them them up, re-penned them, and then moved their pig-house into their new, secure area.

Cool. Done. But I needed to put straw in the newly repositioned house for them to sleep on.

Back I went to one of our straw bales and began bundling straw into a big bag/sack to take over. As I did this a bit of the sack flicked up and hit me in the left eye. Immediately I realised my contact lens had gone. After running inside I desperately looked in the mirror for 5 minutes to see if it had just been knocked off the centre of my eye, but I couldn’t see it. I was now faced with two options – 1) the contact lens was still in my eye somewhere 2) my contact lens was literally in a f***ing haystack. A contact lens, in a haystack.


Now to add to the fun my glasses had broken a few months ago. Having an eye test in France isn’t as easy as turning up at an opticians and having an eye test. Oh no. France has a mass shortage of ophthalmologists, so the average wait time in our region is 9 months. NINE MONTHS to have an eye test. The only glasses I had remaining were a pair of prescription sunglasses I wore when I was 15. So one pair of sunglasses with a 20 year old prescription. I needed to do something. I thought perhaps I could phone up my optician in Scotland and ask for them to send me my most recent prescription details. Then perhaps I could buy contacts or glasses online right? Good idea?

Of course not. Sing it Danny P.

I phone them up. They have no record of me.

“Do you remember the optician?” the girl on the phone asked.

“Yes” I say “she was a mad Irish woman who scared the shit out of me”.

“Oh yes, I know who you mean. When did you last have your eyes tested with us?”

“Er…. 3 or 4 years ago?”

“I’m afraid we can’t give out your prescription over the telephone”

“Could you mail it, or e-mail it?”

“I’m afraid we can’t give out your prescription details if they’re older then 3 years. Sorry”


OK. So what now?

Time to visit a French optician. Perhaps I can appeal to their softer side. Perhaps they’ll help me as a foreigner stuck in their land, adrift with only a pair of sunglasses to wear in January. Sunglasses of a design fashionable 20 years ago, but now so retro they cause cars to slow down as they pass me on the street. Think Wayfarers, but a sort of NHS lo-fi copy rendered in silver leopard skin print.

I negotiate with the optician. This has to be resolved.

Here I must point out something interesting – if you ever visit France, take a look at people’s glasses. They are nearly always incredibly stylish designer label frames with index-thin glass. This is because the French get their glasses paid for them by the state. They can also get new pairs of glasses virtually weekly, all paid for. Most ladies here have a pair of 600 euro glasses per colour swatch, or outfit. Why not?

It takes 30 minutes to explain to the optician that the state won’t pay for my glasses as I’m a foreigner and the only benefits I get in France are a fortnightly bin collection. I explain I want a cheap pair built to the same prescription as my sunglasses. I am now looked at as if I’ve crawled in off the street and started begging in the shop. She goes to the “cheap” draw (moths fly out as she opens it) and hands me a few pairs as if she’s handling radioactive material.

I pick a cheap pair, and then select the cheapest nastiest lenses. All in all it’s still going to cost a fair amount, but I don’t have much choice. All through the conversation I have been confirming that the opticians can make the glasses there and then. Immediately. That day. As I wait. Oh yes! No problem! She takes my glasses away, works out the prescription, brings them back, prints out the invoice and get me to sign it. I do so. “At least”, I think, “I’ll be in normal glasses in a couple of minutes. I might not be able to see more than 5ft in front of me, but at least I’ll look normal”.

After I’ve signed, she smiles.

I go to hand my bank card over. “Oh no” she says “you can pay when you collect the glasses”. “I’m collecting them now!” I say, with a hearty laugh. Oh you cheeky French person you! “No” she says “we don’t have any glass in stock to make the lenses. You’ll need to come back… ” she thinks for a moment, and then plucks a day at random “…. next Thursday.” She sees my slack jawed astonishment. “At 11’o’clock!” she finishes up, assuming I’m upset because she’s been a bit vague about the time, and British people clearly like to know exactly when to return to an opticians.

6 days. SIX DAYS. No glass? Lets think. What should an opticians have in stock at all time? LENSES FOR THE GODDAM GLASSES. It’s a GLASSES shop, you should have GLASS in it at all times. It’s like Top Shop informing a customer that they don’t have any tops in because they didn’t think anyone would be looking for a top in TopShop. AND WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME FOR THE BEST PART OF 30 MINUTES? Nnnnnrggggggh!

I’m tempted to launch into a “my grandfather fought for your freedom in World War 2 you ungrateful French bastards, get me a pair of glasses now!” rant, but being British I of course politely thanked her for being so helpful and left without even a whisper. Yeah!

So here I am. For six days I’m going to have to live a life as a virtual recluse. I may, or may not, have a contact lens jammed round the back of my eye and to top it all, until I go back to the UK in 2 months time I’m going to be living life as if the world is being beamed into my eyes like ITV4 on Freesat or a 240p Youtube video.


Start Time
Jan 6, 2012 11:03 AM
4.00 km
Avg Speed
5:38 min/km
Max Speed
5:00 min/km
359 kcal
153 m / 175 m
10 m ↑ / 20 m ↓
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