Saturday, 3 March 2012

Nan-next-door and the dentist

Nan-next-door didn’t really have much time for dental hygiene.  Living with her I remember eating lots of biscuits, but never being told to brush my teeth.  Fortunately when I went home at weekends Mum had a rigorous approach to teeth and drummed it in to me  that I had to take responsibility for brushing at least twice a day as the grandparents couldn't be trusted.  When I reported back and was seen to act on these instructions Nan-next-door would snort, ‘Modern nonsense – we didn’t brush our teeth when I was your age and what harm did it do us?’  Nan seemed unable to connect this lack of attention with the fact that most of her generation had false teeth from the age of thirty.

Eventually I needed to be taken to the dentist as one of my milk teeth was painful - I am probably about six or seven - those malted milk biscuits have taken their toll.  The dentist operated out of his house which stood on the main A40 into the city.  Whenever I pass it now I have a little shiver  - it remains the same: gloomy, with brown pebble-dash and dark green painted woodwork - it could easily act as a location for a horror film - Silence of the Lambs or some such.

The dentist decides I need the tooth out and because I am so scared he is going to put me to sleep (temporarily - it isn't that bad).  He puts the rather nasty, smelly mask over my face; unwisely he has his finger between the mask and my mouth and gives my sore tooth a prod.  Not liking this treatment I decide to bite him.  I bite, he screams and drops the mask,  I cry,  he slaps me and then slaps me again for good measure.  Nan-next-door rushes in to see what is going on and why the poppet (this is what I am called by the family - simper, simper) is wailing.  She is furious that he has slapped me and completely indifferent to the fact that I have almost severed one of his fingers and there is blood running down his arm.  She shouts at him using what I know, even then, are bad words. We are told to leave and never to return.  Back home Nan-next-door gives me sweets to comfort me.

My tooth still hurts, but Grampy loops a length of thread around it and then ties the other end to a door handle, slams the door shut and, hey presto, out comes my tooth, ready to be put under my pillow for the tooth fairy.

Now when I go to the dentist I have to try really hard not to think of this story as I am worried that one day I’ll do some more biting.

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