How many times can a writer start a blog with the words – this is not the blog I intended to write? Hopefully quite a few because I’m going to do it again. I had intended to write about goal-setting but instead I simply must write about my visit to the dentist Tuesday morning. This immediacy (although not as immediate as I had intended, as it’s now Friday) demonstrates either admirable flexibility or a complete inability to make a decision. I prefer to think the former. Two areas I haven’t written about at all – finances, or only a little and health or, if you prefer, physical well-being, have come together in a perfect storm of literary outpourings today. And I’m not even going to mention making an appointment with my accountant (sounds good doesn’t it – the financial advice blog will come later) whose office is just a couple of hundred yards from my dentist.  2

I have been worrying about our finances but I didn’t want to be a burden,  so I haven’t written about this aspect of retirement. And of course I have told you about my diabetes. But after my visit to the dentist when he told me my gums were scoring poorly – 3s rather than the 1s from last time (4s are the worst, it means the pointy thing practically goes into said gums up to his elbow) – and with only the slightest dig, ha, at me not having come for regular check-ups, followed this up with – and you need two fillings, followed by the final whammy – the roots need to be extracted on this tooth that no longer exists as a tooth (the reason I had reluctantly gone in the first place). If not extracted it will cause abscesses at the worst possible time, like when you’re going on holiday – no need to worry about that, we can’t afford to go on holiday after this visit. Somehow the whole damn thing – money and health came together. Save money and have an abscess or spend like a drain and be abscess free. Although the word free doesn’t seem quite the right word in this context.

I didn’t even dare ask how much all this was going to cost. I was too tense to speak and also speaking isn’t easy when his fist is in my mouth. I knew I was tense because I realised that, apart from the back of my head, my hands (which actually hurt afterwards with the downward pressure) and the heels of my feet, no part of my body was actually touching the chair. Perhaps subconsciously I thought that he wouldn’t charge me as much if I didn’t use the chair or at least used it only minimally. I was wrong in this, he charged me £56 for a bit of scraping and cleaning and a lot of bad news.

The thing is with my current dentist is that  he’s such a cheery chap that the  awful news he gives me feels like he’s saying, congratulations you’ve won the lottery. He uses phrases like, could be worse, only three fillings, might need to cut the gum, could be a bit sore afterwards and the really good news is that I’ll do everything at the same time – roots, fillings and something else. I’d lost concentration and the will to live at this point.

The whole dental experience, with my relatively new dentist and his relatively old assistant, is one of good cheer and bonhomie. My last dentist, i.e. the one downstairs at the same practice, was a miserable, old Welshman (no offence to the Welsh) . You knew where you were with him. You knew what bad news sounded like and took it in the spirit he intended it, i.e. you’re doomed – ‘young man’ as he liked to call me. He called me that as I met him (embarrassingly for me but I suppose all the money goes into, the same bank account so why worry?) face to face in reception. You weren’t available, I said weakly. Fortunately he was too busy being miserable and upset about some, wrongly delivered, piece of equipment to show any remorse about me moving to a younger, more cheerful dentist, but he did find time to call me ‘young man’. Reminded me of Brian Clough.

I admit I haven’t had many dentists, although they have all, in their different ways, been memorable. Beginning with the first one who smelled heavily of peppermints. Oh, yes my mother said blithely, he’s an alcoholic. That’s great then that’s both my dentist and my GP that are alcoholics, good choice mother. This chap does not smell of peppermints or anything else which I think, on the whole, is an advantage for a dentist. He does, however, have Radio 2 on all the time – maybe to cover the screams, I’m not sure, but what is bizarre is not only does he sing along with some of the tunes but so does his assistant. They’re both singing along to Thunderclap Newman whilst he is digging around with sharp instruments in my mouth.

He doesn’t even turn the music down while he discusses ‘your options, Peter’. But then I can see why he wouldn’t. When he shows me his model of a ‘bridge’, he didn’t bother with the troubled water, I brought that, he tells me that this ‘option’ would cost me £1200. Chris Evans could not begin to muffle my misery. It’s a funny thing but since I retired I worry more about money and health. How can that be?

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