Back in early August of last year, a sign suddenly appeared at the chemist: This Business is Under New Management, as of 1st August. And yet Claire Jackson, pharmacist over at least the past decade and so well-respected for her calm professionalism, was still seen filling prescriptions (she or a locum take it in terms to fill in on Thursdays), so it took a little bit of detectoring work to figure out the lay of the land. But everything moved along very smoothly, drugs were served, and that was that.
I was one of the folks who took on the status quo as a fait accompli (even though I’m terrible at both Latin and French!) and happily received my medicines, grateful that everything was much the same. But I’m guilty in not having had a little chat with the friendly new proprietor, before now, an oversight I’m happy to rectify on half-day Wednesday!
So, the new owner and registered pharmacist Rohit Nayyar (you pronounce his name: ‘Row’ as in ‘row your boat’ and ‘hit’ as in ‘Number 1 hit’; ‘Nayyar’ as in ‘neighbour’ only without the ‘b’ and finishing off with a ‘yar’ in your best Sloan Ranger posh accent — it took quite a lot of finessing for me to figure this out but that’s because I’m an accent-challenged Canadian, and Rohit is from the toon) . . . anyway, Rohit does live in Newcastle and he divides his time now between his two pharmacies in Berwick upon Tweed and Allendale upon, err, Allen.
I asked Rohit about his impression of village life, and he was so enthusiastic about the way folks chat and have time for each other. He talked about how continuity is so important in patient care, and how patients can get to know the same pharmacist (and be known by them, of course) in just a short space of time because they may need to get prescriptions refilled, or consult about a cold or aches and pains. And I reflected on how the continuity of the chemist shop was so gratefully appreciated by its clients, since the place is really a crucial cog in the life of the village.
With the increased footfall of tourists, throughout the New Year and starting again after Easter until late autumn, as spread through the holiday cottages and B&Bs in these valleys, a local chemist is a village life-saver in more literal ways than you could imagine. Open every day from 9am, the shop closes at 6:30pm except Wednesdays and Saturdays when it closes at 1. The shop itself is also open through the lunch hour, though the pharmacist takes their break from 1-2, during which prescription dispensing is legally on hold.
Rohit also wanted to stress the usefulness of the free delivery service for prescriptions that the chemist offers, which if you’re shut-in and unable to make the trek to the shops, is another kind of life-saver to local ailing folks.
And so at the end of the little lull in business, a perfect time to have chosen for a chat, I picked up my packet of pain relief and made a cheerful exit, glad that ‘our’ chemist is running just as smoothly as it ever was.