(2) Settling in
I began work with Roger, my pre-reg supervisor and Catriona a local lass (who quickly became “Katie” much to her annoyance) who pretty much ran the practice and doubled as translator for me. The evenings on the other hand were filled with a deep silence. The kind of silence that seemed all enveloping after the hustle and bustle of London. My trusty BASF cassette player (look it up kids) had blown a fuse on arrival and there was no way of making any other kind of entertainment. TV hadn’t yet arrived and radio stations if you could get them were all in Gaelic. The odd car passing outside my window shattered the silence so badly that after 3 nights my nerves were in shreds. In desperation I broke open the cassette case and jammed a length of wire across the terminals which was probably not a great idea from a personal life expectancy point of view but never had music been so welcome.
What life must have been like in the old days before radio and suchlike I can scarce imagine.
The trial set
A trial set of lenses contains roughly 300 lenses all very precisely ordered in terms of power, I was just settling in to my pre reg year when a local fisherman turned up looking rather flustered “I’ve drooped ma bins over side of the boot, ye ken?” my blank look prompted Katie to translate. Evidently he’d lost his reading specs and the boat was leaving again in 10 minutes, in a mild panic I turned too quickly and ... CRASH!!!!
300 lenses described a graceful arc through the air and deposited themselves willy nilly all over the floor.
Each one had to be picked up, fingerprints removed and returned to their correct slot under the gimlet eye of a rather tee’d off iasgair before I could continue. I didn’t quite catch all that he was muttering but I don’t think it was “Oh, there’s a clever chap”
A few years ago one of my regulars commented on how many lenses I had and how did I remember which one to use? For some reason I began telling this story, waving my arms about to add a bit of theatrical grandeur, I got to the bit where I turned round just like THIS …
Weren't in a hurry were you?
Back in the day the met office used to release a pollen count with a figure of 70 normally being enough to set known sufferers off.
In Nottingham we regularly got figures of 200+ (3x normal limit) and it wasn’t unusual to get figures up 500+ (9x normal limit)
In their infinite wisdom they decided to do away with this numbers system and plump for low-medium-high instead. There seems no way to correlate the two systems.
Each year I get dozens of people with streaming red eyes mainly from Easter through to about now.
“Do you suffer from hay fever?” “No?” “Yes you do”
It’s unfortunate but the very high pollen count we get locally seems to pull a lot of people into a net they didn’t realise affected them.
And there’s not much you can do apart from wait it out as I’ve yet to see an effective treatment.
Safe in our hands?
The cottage I first lived in was meant to be Roger’s retirement home and he was in the habit of popping down of an evening to do bits and bob’s of DIY and as I was invariably at a loose end I’d often muck in and help.
Upstairs previous inhabitants had been somewhat “Scottish” about throwing things away so wallpaper was layered on top of previous layers in some places 7 or 8 layers thick. You can imagine our surprise when we stripped some of this back (quite easily as they had been equally frugal with the wallpaper paste) to reveal a whole wall covered in perfectly preserved newspaper which on closer inspection turned out to be “The Times” from circa 1864 I spent several evenings perusing a veritable cornucopia of insight into a bygone age. One section in particular stuck in my memory, a cricket match was taking place and the Times reported it thus:
"The gentlemen of England engaged the gentlemen of Australia and ably did they acquit themselves of the task…”
Score cards revealed WG Grace got a pair of spectacles and various other historic names were also present. I thought little more of this and one evening came home to find the walls cleared back to the plaster. It was only several years later when I told this story to a chum who also happened to be a cricket nut did I get an inkling of how valuable those records might have been, only twice in my life have I seen this Yorkshireman with a tear in his eye the second being when the chancellor announced a penny on a pint of beer.
Recently I was regaling some of my model flying chums with this story and one (a Nottingham uni professor) told me of Einstein’s visit to the university to lecture in 1930
Evidently he covered several blackboards with equations related to his newly published theory of relativity The plan was for the university to cover said blackboards and keep them for posterity
What’s less well known is one member of the cleaning staff, keen to impress came in early the next morning and was busy dusting the boards clean when the staff member tasked with saving the priceless archive turned up, another few minutes and it would have all been wiped away.
Recent searches do not show WG Grace ever getting a pair of spectacles (a duck in both innings for the uninitiated) which suggest that either:
(a) The Times got it wrong
(b) Wikipedia got it wrong
(c) The whisky was finally taking it’s toll on my few remaining brain cells and I read it wrong or:
(d) It turns out there were several “Graces” E.M. W.G. etc and I simply got the wrong one.
From what I can gather only one of the blackboards survived the over enthusiastic cleaner and is still on display to this day (suitably protected by a sheet of Perspex)