April 2021: Happy April Fool’s Day!

Apr 1, 2021 | Stuart's Patient Newsletter

I must admit I was never a fan of ‘April Fool’s’ day when I was at school.

I was always the small, slightly tubby, naïve one who always got caught out with April Fool pranks. It was a mighty relief when it got to 12 noon and the pranks stopped, or better still when the 1st April was in the school holidays.

I hadn’t realised that we don’t actually know when April Fool’s day officially started. One theory is that it goes back to the 14th Century as it’s mentioned by the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, but there seems to be some controversy over this. The 2nd theory is the Calendar Theory, dating back to when people started celebrating the New Year at the beginning of January, instead of the end of March. Those who continued to celebrate it at the end of March, rather then the 1st January, were considered to be ‘Fool’s’ and had jokes played on them.

The 3rd theory is that the tradition of April Fool’s day came from Europe and spread to Britain back in the 1500’s, with the earliest concrete records about this date coming from France and Holland. In many parts of Europe, it is actually known as ‘April Fish Day’. This supposedly stems from the fact that there are lots of fish in French streams and rivers at the start of April and they are easy to catch – foolish fish! It became a common trick particularly in France, to attach a paper fish to someone’s back on 1st April, to make them look foolish.

Wherever the tradition comes from, April 1st is an important day for us as it was on 1st April 1991 that we bought G. T. Harvey and Partners – yes, we’ve had the practice 30 years – today!!
I remember telling Maria on honeymoon in December 1990, that I was buying the practice. Maria being the ever sensible (new, naïve!) wife simply asked, “What happens if it doesn’t work”? Having never contemplated that outcome, I glibly answered” We lose our house and Mum and Dad lose theirs”!

“Oh well”, she said “we can all live in a tent”!

So, April Fool’s day, 30 years ago, was very special for us.

It has certainly been an enjoyable journey – although the last 12 months have been somewhat challenging!

A Thank You

Many of you have been with us from the start and some long before that. I’m very grateful for the support that each and every one of you have given us. I would go so far as to say that you are G.T. Harvey and Partners and that our challenge is to continue to improve the eyecare and spectacles we provide for you. Rest assured we will be working very hard to make sure we do this over the next 30 years!

Just to show you how Newcastle has changed over those 30 years, back in 1991 you could drive along Saville Row and down Northumberland Street, Callers Pegasus was 2 doors down from us on Saville Row and was Newcastle’s busiest and largest travel agents. Newcastle United were languishing mid-table, in the old second division, with Ossie Ardiles as Manager and the ‘Pop Charts’ were topped by Mariah Carey with ‘Someday’. John Major had just succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and more importantly – as you can see in the photo – I still had hair.

To help us celebrate our 30th Anniversary, Hoya our premier lens suppliers, are doing a special promotion for April.

They have agreed that anyone who buys a new pair of spectacles with either the Hoya premium distance or varifocal lenses, will receive a pair of distance polarising sun spec lenses, free of charge. So, all you then have to buy is the new sun spec frame – if you are interested and would like further details please contact one of our dispensing opticians.
I’m pleased to say that the city centre is starting to get busier in preparation for all non-essential shops hopefully opening on 12th, it will be great to see life starting to get back to normal.
On the staffing front we said ‘Goodbye’ to Emma yesterday. Emma has been with us for over 5 years and has helped Ashley and Jess manage the Reception and Admin’ side of the practice. For the last 2 years Emma has been running her own business in her spare time. She is passionate at injecting positivity, energy and healthy living into peoples lives so she is now going to give this her full attention and continue to develop her business. Emma offers outdoor 1-to-1 personal training as well as a Ladies group, Exercise and Mindfulness sessions.

If you are interested in finding out more please contact Emma on: [email protected] – we wish Emma every success with her new venture.

Thank you to everyone for their feedback regarding the new-style Newsletter. Whoever said ‘Don’t work with children or animals’ is correct as there is no doubt Willow is far more interesting than me! For those of you who have asked, Willow and Leo are Italian Spinone, which are Italian gundogs. As a breed Spinone – affectionately known as Spins! – were first introduced into the UK in the early 1980’s. Slightly bigger than a Labrador, Spins come in a variety of colours from brown, to white and orange, to brown and white, or any combination of the above – muddy also being an option. Spins have a great temperament but are not the bravest dogs in the world as they often have ‘Scooby Doo’ moments, when they jump so high in fright, that you could catch them! They take about 2-3 hours of exercise a day, hence our early starts for their 1st walk of the day.

Leo and Willow would make awful guide dogs as they are too easily distracted by birds, rabbits or anything else that they can chase! However, I am pleased to say that we managed to donated nearly £1,000 to Guide Dogs in 2020 – despite Covid-19 restrictions. This has only been possible by many of you kindly recommending that friends and relatives visit us for an eye examination. We pledged to make a donation every year to Guide Dogs, for every new patient recommended to us, who we see for an eye examination and will do the same for 2021.

I would also like to congratulate Virginia H, on winning our ‘Thank You’ prize for recommending a friend, of a meal for 2 at Newcastle’s very own Michelin starred ‘House of Tides’. We hope she enjoys her night out once restaurants re-open.

Hopefully, by May we will all be nearly back to a normal life and to this end our new stocks of frames continue to arrive. Our latest new frame collection is the Kilsgaard Collection a Danish designed, classical but fashionable range of frames for both Gents and Ladies, from the Design Eyewear Group. Below is a picture of my favourite. If you wish to see more from the Kilsgaard Collection, just give us a ring to arrange an appointment.

Well, I hope you haven’t succumbed to any April Fool jokes this year, but you had better just check no-one has stuck a paper fish on your back!
Take care, stay safe and I hope to see you soon.

Best wishes,
Stuart.
p.s. If you have any special memories of visiting the practice over the last 30 years, or even before, I would love to hear them.