Monday, 14 August 2006


So no post for a while, but I reckon you spotted that already.

The reason behind this is two fold, or possibly three- or four-fold, it depends on how many I can think of whilst typing between here and when I get there, or something. Anyway the main reason was work (and, totally unrelated, here’s a point about ms word – when you misspell a word, for example leave a letter out, it tells you, but why, when you add a number into a word by accident, such as behi9nd, it doesn’t? (and that happens a lot when I type the letter ‘i’ as this keyboard is a little small)). Anyway work was shitty because everyone went on holiday. This is usually a sign to kick back and surf the net, but not for me as it left me ‘in charge’. I don’t mean in a nominal sense, I unfortunately mean in a ‘questions from the CE and MD’ kind of in charge. What made it worse was not only did my boss disappear on July 31st, but so did the recruitment manager (my old job, for those paying attention to such things), so not only did I have my job to do, but I had not one but two others as well. Even better was this was in the eight or so working days up to the Obon holiday, not traditionally a time for the faeces to hit the fan (much, if at all. Any way I can make that more ironic?). And now, just to add insult to injury, their returns may well be delayed due to all the nonsense going on the UK with the airports and the terror and whatnot, so my ‘one day back in the office to handover’ on the 16th, before my holiday starts, may well also be delayed (like f*ck will it, even though I have nothing more planned than a trip to the outlaws, if the MD tries to stop me by as much as a day then an invoice for an extremely expensive flight to the UK for the 17th for the whole family will mysteriously appear (I didn’t work closely with all those airlines for nothing)).

The second thing was that on the final day of term, before the Obon holiday started, I had to go and get drunk, as is traditional at these times. So chalk off the middle of last week as it now takes me a day and a half to recover from these things.

Then, on Friday, I had an appointment with death.

But that was after I had my annual health check up. This went quite smoothly though again, as I wrote about last year (or maybe the year before that) I think the scales they use are slightly dodgy. Or they’re just plain wrong. But this year I fear they are even wronger as they seemed to indicate that my lithe and svelte look was nothing of the sort and 3 kilos (or 6 pounds in old money) had appeared upon my person from somewhere. I know what you’re thinking but no, it was either the wrong scales or the nurse had her foot on the back of the scales as well as yours truly. However being a realist I realised that diet or amputation is the only real way forward from here, I will let you know which it is in due course.

That was Friday morning and then, in the afternoon, I had the aforementioned appointment with death. Now you may think I am over-dramatising here, but I can think of them in no other way. I mean, they take pleasure in the pain and torment of others (just like death). They smile far too much (just like death). The first two letters of their profession are d-e- (just like death). And they are evil (ok, not like death, but I’ve got to try and keep the analogy going). So, if you haven’t already guessed from my obtuse prose, I had to go to the dentist.

I have not had a particularly relationship with dentists. The first one, when we lived in Somerset, was fine as I was too young to know any different and he didn’t inflict years of unwavering pain upon me. Unlike the right bastard who ‘looked after’ me when we lived in Hampshire. His name was Dr Yoong (de Sade), a gentleman of (possibly) Singaporean descent who tortured me for about three or four years whilst at secondary school by fitting me with a brace – the split level ‘train tracks’ variety, which meant monthly visits to his chamber (the inaptly named ‘Health House’) whereby he would tighten the ****ing thing with pliers, electric screwdrivers, crowbars and anything else he could lay his hands on. But that, actually, wasn’t the worst of it. Because my jaw and/or mouth is too small (ironic, for those who’ve met me) I had to have four teeth taken out. Four healthy, living, well attached to my jaw teeth. It was the anaesthetic that really got me. On the chair, oriental gentleman say ‘relax, this may hurt a little’ (as if you can relax when someone tells you, a 13 yr old, it is going to hurt!) and then watching a needle about 8 feet long and 2 feet wide (the joys of perspective) being lowered slowly and then the excruciating agony of this needle being poked directly into my gums and the roof of my mouth. Of course his knee on my chest as he tried to prise the healthy teeth from the living bone of my jaw didn’t help much either. I’m wincing as I write this now – time does not heal all wounds, not by a long ****ing chalk.

Once I had the thing off my teeth that was it for me and dentists. I was lucky in that my teeth never actually hurt so I had no reason to go back. Well, except when a bit fell off one of my teeth whilst we were living in Brixton a few years back. At that moment I thought it prudent to go and see another one, all of about 15 years since I had last set foot in a surgery. This time it wasn’t a Singaporean gentleman but one from central Europe, Czechoslovakia perhaps. Anyway he looked at my back tooth, from whence the bit had fallen off, and said ‘hmm, yes, it vill haff to come out, but maybe today, maybe tomorrow, who knows? But it vill be tricky as it is right at za back, you know…’ Which of course I did know as I could feel it. But, happy that he was so non-committal, I figured that maybe later was good enough for me and never went back to him (or his surgery which, I swear, had a Dickensian air about it – dimly lit, musty smell, peeling wallpaper...ok, it had a Rising Damp air about it).

Into the present and I suspect you are wondering why I eventually gathered up the courage to go. Well, mainly it was because I discovered that dental was actually included on our insurance policy so I wouldn’t have to pay for it, and secondly the Guru had been going and the bloke didn’t sound like a complete, evil bastard (as dentists go). Indeed he seemed something of a gaijin-ophile and was always asking the Guru about her foreign husband. But of course I was wary, not only for the reasons stated above, but also because the Japanese, as a nation, seem to have bloody awful teeth (better, I suppose, than awfully bloody teeth). Mouths full of gold and/or other substances or, more commonly mouths half full of black teeth, or, not uncommonly, mouths full of nothing at all. Doesn’t fill you with confidence, that. Theories are put forward like lack of calcium in the diet from an early age (also blamed for higher levels of osteoporosis) or a lack of fluoride in the water system, but I personally blame dentists as I figure it is a plot by them to stay in business (like garage mechanics, they’re never going to completely fix everything, now are they, as then you might not need to come back).

So I knew I had to go, even though I still had no pain from my teeth, and so last Friday was deemed D-day. So we go in and the place is jolly swish, no Dickensian/Rising Damp here. Importantly everything looked new, shiny and professional. And, far more importantly, the nurses looked pretty – a far more important consideration if you are about to have pain inflicted upon you. First up was a quick sit in the chair, which had a pleasantly space-age feel about it, including a computer monitor attached showing scuba diving pictures (‘probably feed my remains to his fish’ was my thought). Then it was an x-ray. At the Health house this had taken weeks to do and probably involved pain, but this was just ‘stand here; chin here; bite this; don’t move; whirr; done’. Cool, then, as I sat back down in the space chair my x-ray came up on the screen! (Apologies if this isn’t hi-tech at all and is now common across dentists world wide – it has been 20 years, after all).

And yes, he confirmed that top-right-back was indeed rotten and would need to be pulled out, the sooner the better (I could have told him that... I did tell him that on the beloved Japanese pre-action questionnaire!). But top-left-back, which I thought in a similar condition, actually wasn’t too bad. But the worst bit was back-right-bottom; I’ve always though this one was a bit odd, but the x-ray showed that whilst healthy, it is at completely the wrong angle. Teeth should all be in a nice neat line with the roots pointing down and crown pointing up. This tooth, whilst in a neat line, has its root pointing out the back of my head and the crown at ninety degrees growing into the next tooth. Bugger.

So the doc said that top-right-back needed to come out right away and would be a cinch, 5 minutes at most (what was in Czech dentist said again?), but bottom-right-back needed to come out as well but this would be hard because of the angle and the fact that it is still healthy – he even sucked in his breath through his teeth when he said it...

And then we did the rotten top-right-back. Now if you remember it was the anaesthetic that caused me most issue when I was a kid and I was expecting more of the same. Indeed the new style syringe looked a bit like a hot glue gun you used to get, so I wasn’t holding out much hope, but when he did the business I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t, for want of a better expression, feel even a slight prick. Wow. And the old style used to make the whole side of my face go numb, but this one was pretty localised around the tooth in question – in fact I began to worry that the anaesthesia had worn off as I could feel the outside of my cheek, but when I gave the gum a surreptitious poke with my finger, no feeling was to be had. Wow again.

Then, in order for the numbness to take full effect, I was put into the hands of a nurse with very pretty eyes who had the undoubted pleasure of cleaning 20 years of tartar of the backs of my teeth, lucky her. So caked on was it that she only had time to do the bottom row before the Doc called me back. With trepidation I settled back into the space chair and let him do his thing. And true to his word, in less than 5 minutes and with barely a sustained tug, the offending peg was in his hand and I didn’t feel a thing. Wow for a third time. And that, rather anti-climactically, was it.

He was relived as he could tell I was sooo stressed about the whole thing, whilst I was full of admiration for his technique – or whoever invented to the new anaesthetic thing. I still have to go back for a bit or remedial work, and the tricky bottom-right-back, which could, literally, be a pain. But overall a little bit of faith has been restored in the dentisting profession, and by a Japanese dentist to boot.

A little was then lost when I found out I was banned from alcohol for the evening to prevent infection, or something. Nice of him to tell me that after the procedure.

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