‘Yes, it’s quite infected. There’s a piece of bone sticking out of your gum, must have been quite painful’. Yep, you got that right. Which is why, apart from the two fillings I now need, that I’m here again a week after having three roots torn from my mouth. I’ve had a week of pain. I decided not to tell him about poking the hole with a golf tee (used) (see right) when we were at the hotel on Sunday night. I thought there was something stuck in there, little did I know that it was my bone. But that little poke around with an infected object not designed for the purpose (it was all I had that was pointy) couldn’t possibly have caused / contributed to the infection.
Tommy Cooper alert. So I go to the dentist and I say I’ve got yellow teeth, and the dentist says, well wear a brown tie. This second dentist joke was actually told to me by my dentist as I writhed in pain on the aforementioned chair. This after I had told him my dentist joke about the filing cabinet. How we laughed. I told my joke to show what a great guy I am, even in pain. ‘This going to sting a bit’, he said, which, as we all know, is code for – this going to hurt like hell. In fact him injecting into the very source of my pain – three times – genuinely brought a tear to my eye. Thank God for the dark glasses. After all, as we know, real men don’t cry. Then he pulled out the piece of bone. Gosh. After that the marvellous smell of burning bone as he drilled my teeth for the fillings was almost a relief.
It all started so well, the receptionist said – do you want to go upstairs (where my new dentist resides above my old dentist)? If ever there was a more ridiculous greeting at the dentist than this then I don’t know what it is. Of course I don’t bleedin’ well want to go upstairs, there’s a man up there who’s going to hurt me, why the hell would I want to go upstairs? Will you go? Can you go? Go up now or I’ll get security, yes, all perfectly reasonable but ‘want’, no, I don’t think so.
What would be the Radio 2 soundtrack to my pain this morning? I got ‘I am the morning DJ on radio WOLD’ I searched for meaning, for a message from above, about this dental experience. Couldn’t find one. Followed by ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ by the late, lamented Ian Drury. This one seemed to be trying to tell me something, but again, I’m not clear what. My dentist hummed along, even finding time to tell me that ‘Morning DJ’ was a firm favourite of Radio 2. Well he should know.
My wonderings were brought to an abrupt halt when he said, and I’m not making this up – I’m going to use the excavator. Fuck, I thought, this could easily be really painful. ‘Yes’, he said, cheerfully, as always, a man at ease with the ‘discomfort’ of others, ‘let’s have a change of discipline’. I realised almost immediately he didn’t mean me. ‘Enough of aural surgery’, he says, ‘let’s do some dentistry’. He didn’t say ‘man’ (you could imagine that he might, he’s that kind of dentist, modern I suppose)but it felt only a drool away. ‘Take a rinse’, says he. By this time my mouth was so numb and apparently out of shape that I might as well have said just chuck it in there, I can’t drink it. Where’s the pink stuff that I used to enjoy so much? ‘Allergies’, he replies. Health and safety strikes again. Just because one or two people swell up like a balloon and choke on their own vomit or go into Anaphylactic shock, doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have a little pleasure in the chair. It was always thus, the few ruining it for the many.
To distract myself I considered his new assistant, the third one in three visits. I realised then what he was doing, he was auditioning for the two part harmony position. Disappointingly, for both of us probably, (of such things are a dentist’s visit made more enjoyable, for me at any rate) she did not hum. Ian Drury is not easy to hum to but Morning DJ has a perfect all-join-in chorus. She ignored it. At the chorus he hummed a little louder as if to make up for the missing harmony.
‘Good man’ he says, ‘You’re a star’, this boy is good, did all those classes at dental school designed to make idiots like me feel they were brave and assured in the face of pain. He used a dental term I had not heard before. I asked if he could write it down for me so I could use in my blog (he didn’t). I told him I should be writing him up in said blog. Did I imagine it or did he pause for a moment in his humming? Don’t worry I said, no dentists will be named in the writing of this blog. He resumed humming, if he had ever stopped. Eventually, when he felt he had inflicted all the discomfort he could muster for one visit, I staggered to the door, drooling, a mis-shapen lump. Thank you I said. Never let it be said we Brits lose our natural politeness even under duress.
£100 for all that fun. And I was worried that retirement might be boring.