September 2023: “Can you see to drive Dad?”

Sep 30, 2023 | Stuart's Patient Newsletter

Don’t you just love it when your children criticise your driving?  They are never subtle; they just come out with the comments and then laugh afterwards!

A couple of weeks ago Matt and Miriam were up from London for a couple of nights. It is always great to see them and as usual ‘Dad and Mum’ would take them out for a meal on the Saturday night. This time we decided to try an Indian restaurant in Hexham called Zyka which had been recommended to Maria by one of her friends.

Again, as usual Dad was elected driver, so everyone else could have a glass of wine and so I dutifully drove everyone to Hexham and then had to find somewhere to park.

For those of you who have not been to Hexham recently the council is busy “Greenifying” the town centre – it is happening so slowly it makes the redevelopment of Saville Row seem rapid! – which means there is a temporary (six months!) one way system in place, as well as suspension on a lot of the parking in and around the town centre.

We eventually found a spot behind the old bus station and hoping to make life easier when leaving at the end of the night, I decided to reverse in.

Now reversing has never been my forte, so I was delighted when the last car I bought had come with a ‘reversing camera’ supposedly to make life easier, at least that is what the salesman said!

To be honest with you…. for me it makes things worse!

I obviously have a neurological blockage somewhere, for no matter how hard I concentrate the information I see on the camera, supposedly assisting me in which way to turn the wheel, never manages to get from my eyes, to my brain and then correctly back to my hands telling me to turn the wheel the right way.

It doesn’t matter how hard I concentrate, check or double check the cars position, I always end up turning the wheel the wrong way!

If I am driving by myself, it means I can have several reversing attempts – without an audience – and it’s amazing how much easier it is.

However, when you have a car full of family you get one attempt before everyone starts making ‘helpful’ comments and that’s exactly what happened. Comments such as “right hand down a bit,” “straighten the wheel now” and “watch out for the wall!” really don’t help the situation!

Suffice it to say, I eventually parked up roughly in between the lines of the parking bay!

The curry was lovely, we had a lovely night out with the ‘kids’ and guess what, there were no disparaging ‘helpful’ comments on the way home about the driving – could it be because I was the only one who hadn’t had a glass of wine?

If I am been honest Maria is a better driver than me (although I would never tell her that). She drives very sensibly, always obeys the speed limit and is very courteous to other road users. Needless to say, Maria has never been stopped by the Police however, I have to confess I did take part in a speed awareness course about 10 years ago after I was caught doing 36mph in a 30mph limit.

For those of you who know the area, it was on the West Road heading up towards the Crematorium. For years it had been a 40mph area and then they changed it – overnight – to 30mph.

Mr observant optician here, never noticed they had changed the signs, so consequently I was done!

To be honest I actually quite enjoyed the course and I did find it very useful, as it was over 30 years since I had passed my test. There were certainly lots of the Highway Code I had forgotten and some I probably didn’t know in the first place.

The instructor for the evening was a retired traffic Policeman with a great sense of humour.

He started by stating the obvious; that nobody who was participating wanted to be there and some would feel hard done to that they had been caught. However, he said that everyone in the room would have at some time or other speeded, but had just not been caught – probably quite true – apart from one poor lad who had been caught doing 45mph in a 40mph zone, on his way home having just passed his test. Even the instructor reckoned he had been a bit unlucky!

When it comes to luck and speeding you need to speak to my mother. Mum has been stopped at least twice that I know of and has managed to talk herself out of it on both occasions!

The first incident I do remember vividly, as she had just picked me up from school in Tynemouth to take me to the dentist in Blyth and as usual, we were running late. Dad used to say that Mum would even be late for her own funeral! so, as she came around the roundabout at Seaton Sluice, she just accelerated away as quick as she could, straight passed the policeman with the speed gun!

To be expected, 50 yards later, his colleague flagged her down.

Then came the best story ever along the lines of;

“Are you really sure officer that it was me that was speeding and not the car in front of me?”  Followed by, “I am sure this little old mini can’t possibly accelerate that fast” and finally the best one, that she was dashing to the dentist as I was in so much agony with tooth ache!

Now I am sure there were even more excuses but as a 15-year-old, I was concentrating hard on looking out of the passenger side window and wishing I could just disappear.

Anyway, I don’t know how she got away with it but I suspect the policeman had just had enough of having his ear bent and thought it would be best to get rid of her as soon as possible!

I suspect the second incident followed a similar pattern, Mum managing to blagg her way our of a fine and I’m also glad to say, I wasn’t in the car at the time!

Mum is now in her 90th year and is still driving her turbo charged, fuel injection Fabia – her choice despite the salesman and our ‘suggestions’ to the contrary – but I think (hope) she has slowed down a little bit, although the way she shot off our drive last Sunday I am not so sure!!

On a slightly more serious note, when you come in for an eye examination if Jenny or I forget to ask if you drive, just remind us and we will double check to ensure you meet the legal visual standards for driving, either with or without spectacles. We certainly don’t want any of you having to use my mothers’ excuses if you get stopped by the police!

On to more exciting things – Jenny now has a dress for her wedding next year! Jenny and Maria have been wedding dress shopping twice in the last few weeks, with the second ‘expedition’ being successful!

Jenny now has a lovely dress on order, apparently it takes 6 to 9 months for wedding dresses to be made these days – and I have the credit card bill to prove it! That I don’t mind as it is one of the great things about being a dad, but I am still trying to workout how Maria managed to use my credit card for the celebratory cocktails for her, Jenny and her friends afterwards!  I guess that’s also part of being Dad!

I would like to thank everyone who has participated in helping to collect data for Jenny’s MSc project. Jenny is in her final year of her Masters in Primary Care Ophthalmology, this is increasing her depth of knowledge in identifying and managing eye conditions, which she is finding very interesting, and which will be of great help to our patients as well.

Thank you to everyone who admires the fact that the TV is still on the wall in the reception area.

I must admit it is still a relief when I walk through the door every morning and it is not in pieces on the floor. To add to my anguish the TV at home also stopped working last week so we had to get a new one and guess what…. that had to be put on the wall as well!

By some miracle this hasn’t fallen off either, but rest assured I will not be giving up the day job to become a TV installer!

Well, I am off to walk the dogs before the Newcastle game comes on the TV. I must admit there is a definite buzz around town now that the new football season has started. Let’s hope the optimism continues as the season progresses, it would be lovely to think that they eventually win something!

Hope you are well,
Take care and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes
Stuart.