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(3) Eilean a’ Cheò

Roger was a pretty bright bloke, Elder of the Church of Scotland and the only optician for 100 miles in any direction. He suffered from shell shock in the trenches of the great war and developed a massive stammer when he got nervous. No one ever argued with Roger

Well that was apart from me.

He’d trained under a chap called Rasmussen who in turn followed Aldous Huxley & Bates who had written the book “Better sight without glasses” Basically they believed that if you left a spectacle wearer uncorrected or under corrected nature would eventually sort it all out. He said he knew it was “all a load of old cobblers” but on the basis that Rasmussen was wrong about everything else by the law of averages he must be right on this one.

Spend 30 years working with 3 females and you’ll witness some pretty elastic interpretations of the word “logical” but even by those standards this took the biscuit

I argued incessantly that this approach made no sense but he remained unmoved. I would perform a test and he would come in to OK the results followed by some leading question like: “Are you happy with your glasses?” As no one liked to offend him or question his last prescription they invariably answered in the affirmative (often with a sidelong pleading glance for help from me) and despite my arguments he would promptly halve my findings and leave them to go bump into a few more lampposts on their way out.

Meanwhile I was busy mastering the subtle nuances of the local dialect:

“So Mrs Makinnon can y’see it the noo?”


“And can you see it the noo?”


“And is it better the noo 1 or the noo 2?”


Thinking back it was a bloody miracle there were so few cars about or it would have been carnage. Fortunately there were no telly’s so no one seemed that bothered.

I kept seeing the Gaelic name for Skye ( Eilean a’ Cheò ) and asked someone what it meant evidently it means “The misty Isle” due to all the rain they have. Now I come from Wales, I know rain when I see it and I can hardly remember a wet day in all the time I was there

Think the real reason it got it‘s name might be a bit more mundane


My computer specs

The specs I wear for working on the computer at home are unlike the specs most people reading this will have. They focus at about 4ft (1.3 m) and have a depth of focus from about 50cm through to the TV at the far end of the room. This is a much more distant focus point than what most people report when I ask them to measure how far away their computer is.

Anyone who has bought a table from Ikea will know why my monitor is so far back, everything there is about twice the size it seems when you see it in the store.

These specs work fine for computer, gardening and when I’m cooking where I can watch Emmerdale whilst chopping onions and follow a recipe on an ipad at 60cm and are fine for walking around

Well worth considering as an “about the house” prescription. Easiest to demonstrate in practice if your interested.


Archie the fighting Scottie

By far and away my best friend on Skye was a local lad called Archie 5 foot 2 in his socks he didn't seem to have a nasty bone in his body and was pretty much universally liked by the locals.

Joan was lovely, very bohemian dressed like an art student and was the object of much unrequited longing. Hamish regarded himself as her No1 suitor 6 foot 6 in every direction he was the epitome of the original “brick outhouse” Hamish was the sort who made Arnie look like a bit of a pansy.

One evening at a post pub social gathering Archie was chatting to Joan much to Hamish’s displeasure “Scuse me friend, this is my girl” he said whilst rudely pushing Archie out of the way.

Archie had to punch upwards at about 45 deg just to reach his chin and BANG Hamish went down like he'd been pole axed.

Which was pretty lucky for Archie as if he’d missed he’d have got marmalised

The next day I bumped into Archie in the local pub and started grilling him over what at happened, at that moment the room went dark as a massive frame filled the door

“ARCHIE!!!!” boomed the voice.

I did what any good friend would do in the circumstances and got ready to scarper.

Years of practice kicked in and I quickly plotted my escape route via a couple of old dear’s who would be least likely to give chase if the pints went flying.

“ARCHIE MY BOY LET ME BUY YOU A DRINK” I froze.. next thing they were sitting chatting like old friends

A couple of years later Stella, Archie and I went to a party in Barry (where I grew up)

There was one particularly annoying local called Graham a lanky streak of p$£$ (looked a bit like a skinny version of Richard off countdown). Let’s just say sometimes history has an uncanny knack of repeated itself. Archie was chatting up Graham’s girlfriend (come to think of it he was rather a one for the laydee’s) and again he got shoved unceremoniously out the way.

BANG Down went Graham and we all got chucked out without further ado.

Much later I surreptitiously asked Archie to reach something down from the cupboard for me, based on how high he could reach I still can’t for the life of me figure how he reached Grahams chin without standing on a stoolWe kept in touch till he finally emigrated to Canada.Would love to know what the locals made of him over there.By far the funniest “Archie” story is the one Stella tells(I was asleep at the time)though not for our more delicate readers, maybe ask her next time your in.


Readers feedback

Thanks for all the comments and input.

I’ve had offers of 80’s PDR “memorabilia” which might start a trend

I’ve found people as old as me who play on PS4, Xbox and similar

An amazing number of people use ipads and tablets, definitely worth some discussion in future issues

In our idle moments the girls have been speculating who’ll play the parts in the upcoming TV series “It shouldn’t happen to a ….”

Unfortunately we had to turn down Julia Roberts and Taylor Lautner as they simply couldn’t “do” the accents.

However on a more positive note I’m please to report we’ve had a definite maybe from the Crankies.


The perils of sheep

The roads on Skye were the sort that would make the boys on top gear need to go and have a bit of a lie down. Long sweeping curves amidst stunning scenery, practically deserted outside high summer they were a newly qualified drivers paradise.

On a trip home I’d managed to blag my dad’s green Hillman Avenger having finally passed my driving test a mere 5 years and 3 months after my first attempt.

70mph is nothing to a modern car but in a 1970’s Avenger you were risking life and limb at that sort of speed. I came hurtling round a long sweeping corner to be confronted by a ruminating herbivore. I confidently leaned on the horn expecting it to shift PDQ It just stood there

Time stood still I had a vague idea of what dad would do to me if I wrecked his pride and joy and swerved ending up in a field with the world spinning all around me.

When I got back and had changed my trousers I regaled the gathered throng in the pub.

“Have you ever hit a moose?”

This from a visiting Canadian (They have a lot of ancestral connections with Scotland due to the forced clearances) In Canada hitting a moose is common and the car rarely wins.



Low visual aids or LVA’s as they are commonly known have come on a lot in the last few years.

In their simplest form think of a magnifying glass.

The latest versions are far more sophisticated and cover both distance and near vision.

Most suitable for people with deteriorating vision who find specs no longer help.

Until recently they were very much in the domain of a specialist hospital unit

Now Stella has completed a course in fitting and supplying them on a private basis.

If you know someone with poor vision maybe an elderly relative who finds normal specs no longer help these just might be the answer


One size fits all?

Not many people would wear wellies to a social function or wear high heels to do the gardening (OK I can think of one or two) you tend to wear what’s best suited to the job in hand.

In the same way you might consider different spec solutions for different situations:

Social functions Stylish, fashionable anti reflection coating on lenses Office Light, comfortable caters for correct working distance be it computer or reading

Workshop & gardening Robust, scratch resistant, some level of eye protection arms length focus

Music Arms length or beyond (3ft-6ft/1-2m) focus Shopping A good range of focus to see distance, arms length and small print on labels

Working outdoors Photochromic or tint

Golf The ability to see the ball in the distance, mark a scorecard and not interfere with the swing

Fishing See a float out on the water polarised lenses score well here with the ability to tie a hook on fine line

There are many other possibilities.

The point is each of the above will have different priorities so whilst you don’t need half a dozen pairs of specs knowing what you are going to be (primarily) using them for is useful when considering what to have.

I’ve been busy with a tape measure and will give a write up each issue on either a spec solution I have used for a specific task or if anyone wants to email with a particular problem (give working distances) I will try to answer here or pop in to work when we can demonstrate how we do it.


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