London Vision Clinic Patient Treats Himself To A Theatrical 2012
Following a debilitating sports injury five years ago, Graham Roberts looked for a way to make changes to his life. Due to excruciatingly painful soft tissue damage, the retired marketing and advertising manager from North London was unable even to sit down and was forced to spend most of the following two years in a horizontal position; even eating meals standing up while clutching the table in agony.
Slowly, as his pelvic area healed, Graham considered what the future might hold for him and his wife, Maria. Clearly foreign travel and holidays were out of the question – at least for the immediate future. However, as his long convalescence progressed, Graham felt that he needed a treat, something that would give him a much needed boost in the final stages of his long recovery… then he read an article about the London Vision Clinic in the Daily Telegraph.
“Blended vision sounded just great”, he recalls.
“I decided to have Laser Eye Surgery before my son’s wedding last year. I wanted to be there at the celebration not wearing glasses. I didn’t want to be using glasses to read the menu; or another pair when I looked up at the guests; and yet another pair for driving home afterwards”, said Graham who, pre-surgery, was using three pairs on a daily basis – bifocals for computer work, reading glasses and another pair of bifocals for driving.
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To See, Or Not To See
At around the same time, Graham was hatching another plan: an ambition to see 50 plays and shows at London theatres during 2012.
“As soon as I was reasonably comfortable in a seated position, I wanted to see as many shows, plays and musicals as possible”.
Despite having enjoyed “the odd musical” previously, Graham and Maria had not been theatre-goers – so they had a lot of catching up to do. They faced the new project with a completely open mind as they booked seats for an eclectic selection of productions – from Wicked to War Horse; The Madness of King George to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Doctor’s Dilemma and A Doll’s House were all on the list which started with the musical Ghost in February 2012. Pretty soon, Graham’s diary looked like the entertainment pages of the Time Out Magazine as he and Maria picked up tickets at theatre box offices large and small across the capital.
They saw productions at venues steeped in history such as the Savoy Theatre – which opened its doors in 1881 and is believed to be the first public building in the world to have used electrical lighting – as well as the brand new, and even those they hadn’t previously heard of (such as the Almeida in Islington). They have also booked seats for the opening season at the new St James Theatre – the first custom built theatre complex in central London for thirty years.
Although he sometimes reads reviews of new productions, Graham doesn’t take much notice of what the critics say. “They might be looking for technical perfection in the production; while I see the theatre as an emotional experience … It’s more a matter of how you ‘feel’ when you leave.”
“We have seen an enormous range and you never know what you’ll think about a play until you’ve experienced it. I never prejudge or exclude anything.” Among the plays that have surprised him is Collaborators at the National Theatre, which he recalls was “a wonderful piece of theatre”. In Graham’s top three (and his wife’s number one) is Matilda.
By August this year, the couple had attended more than thirty live performances and have a total of fifty six plays booked – well exceeding their initial expectation. To add to their excitement, all of these plays will be experienced without glasses as Graham enjoys the results of his blended vision procedure.
London Vision Clinic: A Patient’s Journey
Graham has nothing but praise for the London Vision Clinic team and his experience with them. “In my professional life I was hired to put together ‘walk-through’ tests for various companies and businesses. These procedures highlight even the smallest flaws in every aspect of the customer’s experience. I also looked at what’s known as ‘brand gap’ – the distance between the image a business portrays, and how it is actually perceived by its customers.
“Even with my keen professional eye, I can say that every stage of the patient journey at the London Vision Clinic is absolutely outstanding. If, in my business life, I had been asked to give an evaluation, the London Vision Clinic would have earned the highest grade I have ever given any organisation. It really is fantastic!”
Life After Laser Eye Surgery
Liberated from his trio of specs and with a sense of wanting to enjoy everything that he had missed out on since his accident, Graham stretched the theatre visit plan to include as many other London events as possible and in 2012, they don’t come much bigger than the Olympic opening ceremony. Armed with his orthopaedic cushion and painkillers, “just in case”, he became immersed in “the truly breath-taking experience”. His experience was made even more thrilling by a surprise encounter with his musical icon: the Chinese virtuoso pianist Lang Lang.
After twenty years is specs, Graham also enjoyed a day watching a Test Match at Lords Cricket Ground – with only his sunglasses to worry about. “It was great not having to bother with all the glasses. I found I could easily read the programme, look up to check the scores on the screen; and of course, view all the action on the pitch.”
Alongside his mission to be in the audience of major events, shows and plays (including the London 2012 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony), Graham also lends his services in an ad hoc capacity to Enfield-based local charity Nightingale Cancer Support helping out with their marketing and communications needs.
So will Graham eventually run out of things to watch and the enthusiasm required making the effort to see them? At the moment, he doesn’t think so. Although originally billed for twelve months, there is currently no end in sight for his theatre marathon. “It’s still a wonderful treat and there is a massive amount of choice out there”, he said.