August 2021: I’m trying not to spill water on my keyboard

Aug 5, 2021 | Stuart's Patient Newsletter

I am sitting on our patio; juggling my laptop on my knee, trying desperately hard not to spill a glass of water on my keyboard and trying not to burn the top of my head in the glorious sunshine, whilst contemplating what impact the so-called ‘lifting of restrictions’ actually means.

In the centre of Newcastle there are a few less people walking around with masks on, but in the shops the majority of customers and nearly all the staff are still wearing masks. From talking to our staff, most people are still wearing masks on buses and it remains mandatory on the Metro. Newcastle shops are still fairly quite despite some sales, but this may change now with the schools on summer holiday.

Last week to celebrate our 30th Wedding anniversary – it was only delayed by 7 months! – we had a lovely meal-out. In the restaurant, everyone wore a mask except when sitting at their tables and the staff wore masks too, although I understand from talking to the waiter it was optional for them. We had a very enjoyable night and felt very safe.

From our perspective in the practice, nothing has changed. We are still governed by the Government Health Care guidelines and these were NOT altered on the 19th July.

Therefore, all staff members are required to wear face masks and we continue to space out your appointments, to ensure we reduce the contact time you may have with other people.

  • Government Health Care guidelines also require all Patients, coming into Opticians Practices, to wear a face mask or covering unless medically exempt.
  • We are continuing to ask all patients to please telephone to make an appointment before you visit the practice. This will ensure you are seen with the minimum amount of waiting time.
  • We continue to clean all equipment between every patient – as we have always done.
  • All staff members are still undertaking regular lateral flow tests, to ensure we are all COVID-19 negative.

The feedback from the patients who have visited the practice, is I am pleased to say, very positive and they feel happy and safe with the measures we have in place.

I would like to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who wished me luck with the triathlon I had entered a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I had to withdraw at the last minute due to Maria’s Dad being placed in end-of-life care and sadly, he died a couple of days later. Having lost both my father and father-in-law in the last 10 months it brings it home to you how short life is and why we should make every minute count. Next year I hope to do a triathlon, for charity, in their memory.

On a much happier note, at the start of this month Matt got engaged to his long-standing girlfriend Miriam. We are delighted for both of them although it does make me feel very old!! Jenny is absolutely delighted as it gives her an excuse to buy more shoes…… on my credit card.

Matt and Miriam came up from London to celebrate their engagement with us and as I was working on the Saturday, they decided to borrow my car and spend the day in the Lake District.
I had no trouble with that as Matt is a sensible driver like his mother – Maria is a far better driver than me, although I would never tell her that! Anyway, in-between patients my mobile phone rang, it was Matt sounding a little concerned. Apparently, a stone had flown up from the car in front and cracked the windscreen! “How big a crack?” I asked. “Only about 40cm” he said, quickly followed by the statement that “I’ve ‘phoned Mum and she said it would be ok and that you would sort it” ……!!

To compound matters I saw my mother the following day, who showed even less sympathy. She said, “Don’t you remember you damaged my car 2 hours after passing your driving test?” and to be honest I had forgotten that.

In fact, the whole of the day I passed my test was all a bit surreal. It was the day before my 18th birthday on a very cold and wet day and it was my second attempt to pass, having failed in numerous areas the first time.

I was driving my mother’s pride and joy a 1979 Vauxhall Chevette – for those of you too young to remember a Chevette was best described as a baked bean can with a wheel on each corner.

Anyway, the last piece of advice my driving instructor gave me was to say “Push the passenger seat as far back as you can, so you can see passed the examiner”. This I duly did and all was well until I came to do the emergency stop.

The examiner gave the signal – by tapping his clip board on the dashboard – and like a coiled spring I hit the brakes as hard as I could. The car came to a rapid, but controlled, stop which I was very pleased with. Unfortunately, the examiner didn’t!!

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the examiner continue to move forward, rather rapidly, before the inertia of the seat belt kicked in. It brought him to a very abrupt halt, almost strangling him in the process and scattering all his documents from his knee, onto the floor!

It seemed when I had pushed the passenger seat back it hadn’t clipped into place leaving it free to move. The examiner was not at all amused and I assumed I had failed, so drove the rest of the test without any nerves. To my amazement I had passed however I was lambasted by the examiner about the safety implications of ensuring the car was road worthy and all the seats secure!!

In a euphoric haze, I persuaded Mum to let me take the car around to see a friend and reluctantly she agreed. Like a typically cocky teenager I thought I could drive like Nigel Mansell. So confident was I in my ability, that I swung into my friends drive without changing gear or slowing down and realised I was not in control……. just before I hit the gate post!! When I phoned home, Dad answered and simply asked what had I hit! I asked how he knew and he calmly said “Why else would you be phoning”!

In hindsight hitting the gatepost was a real blessing as it got rid of all my ‘fun boy racer’ tendencies so I really suppose, I can’t complain about my car having a cracked windscreen.

Please welcome Christine to G.T. Harvey & Partners, as hopefully Christine will soon be welcoming you here too!

Those of you who have visited the practice this month may have noticed a new face on the reception desk. We are delighted to welcome Christine Meadows to the team. Christine comes from a retail background, particularly the customer care sector. I have no doubt we will all benefit from her experience and expertise. Christine will be working the second part of the week, as well as covering for holidays when we are short staffed.

As most of you know I like new cutting-edge equipment – or “boy’s toys” as Maria says! To this end I have just ordered two state-of -the-art Corneal Topographers from Australia. These will give even better information for monitoring the health of the eyes of our contact lens wearers, as well as improving our ability to detect and monitor dry eye issues for patients. We are hoping they will be delivered by the end of the summer and there will be more news in the next newsletter about them.

More new frames have arrived at the practice. In particular, Maria’s favourite designer – Coco Song – launched their latest collection.

Maria loves the detail and style of Coco Song frames. She loves the vibrant colours, special styling details and the fact they are incredibly comfortable. If you want to see what Maria is excited about just give me a ring and we will arrange an Eye Wear Styling consultation for you.

Well, I am off to cut the grass, as the sooner I finish it, the quicker I get to sit down and watch some more Olympics!

Take care and hope to see you soon.
Best wishes,
Stuart.