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Dressing the part

Thirty five years ago I was fed up of wearing glasses and I wanted contact lenses. The optician told me how my dreadful astigmatism and generally poor eyesight made lenses a nonsense. He sold me a nice pair of specs. But, later that afternoon, rich enough at the time to bear an expensive mistake, I went back, cancelled the specs and ordered lenses instead. I still wear them.

I did try to get some new ones here a few years ago. Long story but I'm still wearing a pair I bought in the UK before I left. Time to get some new ones.

The optician's shop looked like any other. Rows of spectacle frames on display, businesslike, clean. It turned out that the contact lens section was in some huge cavernous basement. The person who took me there was wearing all white kit - white top, white skirt, white shoes. She also had straw coloured wavy hair. She handed me over to a woman who was wearing all white kit - white top, white trousers, white shirt. In fact all the female staff were dressed in white. My all white optician also had straw coloured wavy hair but I don't think that was a part of the dress code.

Spanish people seem to like wearing uniforms. If Britons are made to wear uniform they tend to customise it in some way, adding a touch of personality or, much more likely, they ditch the uniform at the first opportunity. When did you see a last postie in the UK who wore the full uniform?

When there is an article on the telly about some brilliant Spanish scientific breakthrough the people in the report always wear their "bata," the white lab coat and blue gloves to prove they are real scientists. Doctors, nurses and admin staff in a health centre do the same. At Maggie's school in the infants section all the teachers wore "babis" a sort of apron or smock - Maggie chose not to but her pal, born Scottish but with a Spanish husband, family and so living in a Spanish milieu, did.  I could well be wrong but I don't think this has anything to do with toeing the line. I would never paint Spaniards as being people who do as they are told. I think they wear uniforms because they are seen as adding status, to show membership of a group and, of course, they are usually practical. Street clothes and you could be anyone but a uniform and you're a doctor, you're with Movistar, Iberdrola or el Corte Inglés.

Oh, and the optician seems very professional. She is making great efforts to get me the best lenses for what she explained is dreadful astigmatism and generally poor eyesight which make lenses a poor choice.

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