Tuesday 20 March 2018

Oops! I did it again

Perhaps he should've gone to a Spanish branch of Specsavers, as Maurice Gueret looks to trademark healthy slogans

Specsavers wants to trademark the word 'should've' which it uses heavily in its advertising
Specsavers wants to trademark the word 'should've' which it uses heavily in its advertising
Dr Maurice Gueret

Hot on the heels of Carlsberg trademarking the word "probably", the Specsavers optician chain has made its own successful foray to the UK's Intellectual Property Office. The international chain of opticians has sought to protect its famous slogan "Should've gone to Specsavers".

The application to protect the word "should've" has been approved, and if there are no objections over the next few weeks, no other company will be able to use the slogan when advertising in the same field. Rumours that the HSE might seek to protect "Shouldn't have" are unfounded. But I have it on authority that the Department of Health might make queries about claiming "Oops! I did it again". If Britney Spears hasn't beaten them to the mark.

Specsavers have a nice deal at the moment, offering two pairs of single-vision adult spectacles from a starting price of €89. Using my varifocals (not available in this deal) and the internet, I have been able to check out how customers of the nine other countries in the Specsaver chain are doing. In many cases, they can get a lower-priced deal. Perhaps we should've gone to Spanish Specsavers, as the lowest starting price in Spain is just €59 for two pairs of basic spectacles. The UK, Holland, Sweden, Norway and Finland all appear to have a cheaper starting price than Ireland, although stores in Denmark, Australia and New Zealand are dearer.

* A country doctor retired recently after 60-plus years in practice. He kindly sent me some of his memoirs. In the early days of his practice, there was one golden rule. No patient was ever turned away. But his practice also developed other unwritten rules over the years. Patients were to be put at ease. They were to be listened to. Eye contact was to be maintained. The doctor's pen was put down when the patient was talking. The patient was not to be interrupted. There was to be no moralising. And no peering at computer screens. Every patient was asked, "What really brought you here today?" On retirement, he received no fewer than 150 letters from grateful patients and families. I fear we won't see the likes of him again.

* It's not often that I cut out articles on outer space from the newspaper. I made an exception this summer for one about the cardiac health of astronauts. I saw a few sky pilots and cloud busters in my day, but never came across a real-life moon astronaut. Well, if I do now, I'll know what to look out for. Research from Florida suggests that astronauts who went on missions to the moon and beyond were over four times more likely to develop heart disease than colleagues who stayed grounded or in lower orbits. The theorists suggest that the earth's magnetic field is somehow protective of the heart, and that deep-space radiation may do the damage. The sceptics say that this study is too small. Seven moon astronauts is not a big enough sample for concrete results. Animal research will continue. Spare a thought for lucky mouse astronauts who are now enjoying high-speed thrusts, unlimited cheese and free cardiographs for life.

* The death of Gene Wilder last month leaves a giant void in the world of overgrown, middle-aged kids. Despite Roald Dahl's misgivings, Wilder's Willy Wonka was an absolute hero for our generation. The statement released by his family after his passing is a valuable document and worthy of study by all. It said that Wilder "co-existed with Alzheimer's disease" for three years. It was decided not to release details of his decline before his passing, because Wilder did not want children who might see him to be exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble. They said he couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world. Despite his "illness-pirate", Wilder continued to enjoy art, music and kissing his leading lady of the last 25 years. He held countless western movie marathons in the afternoons, and even danced down the aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom. He died holding hands with his loved ones and listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The statement did not mention what his final complication of Alzheimer's disease might have been. Pneumonia, a stroke or both would be possibilities. But Wilder was lucky to the extent that he still recognised those close to him up to his death, and his family said that his central gentle, life-affirming core personality was still there. The disease took enough, they said, but not that.

* Now that the golf course in Rio has gone quiet, attention turns to the city of Tokyo, where the historic Kasumigaseki Country Club is gearing up to be the golfing venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The problem for many of the men on the international circuit will be to find another excuse that allows them skip the competition.

In Rio, our fair-weather heroes used the Zika virus to explain non-attendance. Which may have been half an excuse if all the women athletes were staying away, too. But they didn't. Doctors' letters won't be so easy to find for Tokyo. Perhaps the partially melted-down Fukushima reactor is near enough to be a worry to golfers. Nagasaki and Hiroshima are on different islands to Tokyo, but sensitive modern golfers can spot danger everywhere. Then there is the ever-present possibility of earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis. Japan is home to no fewer than three tectonic plates. Not to mention all those sushi plates serving up raw fish in the Olympic village. Let the excuses begin.

Dr Maurice Gueret is editor of the 'Irish Medical Directory'

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