7 August 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

 Before I get started I must tell you my darling Daddy can home from hospital on Friday; he has a scar a foot long my mother tells me but is otherwise unscathed. In fact he was full of quips when I spoke to him this morning and is already back to his old self! Hooray! As a side comment the letter I wrote to the hospital, after the last admission when things went horribly wrong, has been placed on his patient file. The doctor treating dad had read it and mentioned it to my mother. Thankfully she commented what an articulate letter it was; that’s what comes of a collective endeavour from a family of educators!

 Don’t you just hate toothache; it came on after a vigorous gum chewing session yesterday and continued through the night reminding me what 3 am looks like. I couldn’t work out where the source of the pain was although I suspected it was the one I thought had cracked. The dentist pointed out that the ridge was the end of the tooth enamel and my gums had receded. Deep joy! On Friday morning’s I like to go to the Drive Thru’ Starbucks in Cardiff Bay to drink coffee and eat a cinnamon swirl. It’s an occasional treat and one I rather enjoy. Last Friday I had planned a visit and thought I’d phone the dentist on the way to see if there was any chance of an appointment. Parking outside the surgery I was told to pop down immediately; the fact I was there in minutes revealed that I had phoned from the pavement outside.

 In case dear ladies the words ‘lazy mare’ popped into you head just now I should point out the surgery is up steep steps. With my ‘falling down legs of a jelly fish’ I prefer to avoid occasions where I may end up kissing the concrete! And have you any idea how embarrassing the kindness of small people is to a large person – picture this, (you may smirk), me in a heap with a diminutive elderly lady leaning over saying ‘are you alright dear?’ Interestingly small children run away in similar circumstances! I really must pause next time I find myself prone on the pavement and imagine how I look to a toddler. The unexpected is alarming to the uninitiated but surely practice for the odd occasion when mummy or daddy has had one too many; laughter should alleviate the tension unless one cackles like a witch of course! 

 Back to my dental crisis. The canny receptionist peered over her glasses and said ‘you were outside weren’t you?’ She’s sharp you know! She always amuses me as her short spiky cropped hair is coloured mahogany purple. I remember when the dye was introduced back in the 80’s and it was the new alternative to henna. The shade really doesn’t flatter anyone! Perhaps that would be because it’s not natural.

 Engrossed in an unexpectedly interesting article in an old copy of ‘The World of Interiors’ I am called in by the new dental nurse. I recognise her as the woman who used to sit behind reception; she introduced the computerised record system and to use an expression of my mother’s ‘she has something about her’.  I can tell she has recently trained as she is concentrating hard on all the tasks delegated to her; she stares into my gaping mouth as if looking for treasure or more accurately a sale bargain! The dentist locates the source of the problem and says ‘we’re going to have to numb this up’; ‘we’ – don’t involve me in this decision please! Be careful and be quick.  Things have improved now the procedure involves numbing the gum before putting the needle in or to be precise three needles today.

 Returning to the waiting room, to lose sensation in half my face, I continue with the article on Gertrude Jekyll who apparently designed vases. Best known for garden design Jekyll responded to her dissatisfaction with the vessels on offer by making them herself using the expertise of Portuguese glass makers. The problem it seems that in the period she was seeking a vase, the Victorian era, the design was impractical; largely trumpet shaped (thin at the bottom and wider at the neck). Of course it’s quite obvious really considering that one needs most of the water at the bottom of the vase. Gertrude’s vases are stocky stout affairs with a nicely sized base or should I say bottom. The contemporary maker of the Jekyll designed vases is her great great (and possibly great) niece who discovered the designs in some family papers. Where there is a fascinating story adding provenance to a product there are bound to be persons, like myself, willing to part with cash simply to say it was designed by Gertrude Jekyll!

 Nicely numbed up I find myself pondering the polystyrene type ceiling tiles as I avoid looking up ‘Richard’s’ nose.  Richard, the dentist, has recently returned from holiday I find out when paying. I could have worked it out from his tanned freckled face and forearms. He has a mask over his mouth and surely it would make sense for this to cover his nose too. I always worry about smelly breath when visiting the dentist; in fact I worry about it all the time given that I smoke (yes we’ve had the conversation ladies about it being neither big nor clever). Working in residential social work in the early part of my career made me only too familiar with the double jeopardy of clients with bad breath and no concept of personal space! Try being disabled (or a pregnant woman) and you realise you somehow gave up your personal space without realising it – strangers feel moved to touch you and say ‘ahh, bless’. Stop it please!

 The two fillings on the same tooth require preparatory cleaning which involves sanding them. I find myself trying to remember if I still have the Black and Decker mini mouse sander. Dad bought it for me when I expressed an interest in its usefulness for tidying up small spaces. It came in a handy briefcase too. Of course I never used it myself but various men in my life have had hours of pleasure from it! Perhaps there are lessons for Ann Summers in terms of design features for her ‘toys’. The actually filling of the cavities involves a range of techniques and implements most of which vibrate alarmingly. What is it about the sound of dental work that goes through one and ironically puts ones teeth on edge? It’s a lot like grouting tiles and I ponder whether the dentist is a dab hand with the trowel or perhaps he prefers to bring in the professionals.

 Driving from the dentist I am aware that I can feel my left eye lid; the anaesthetic numbed my eye socket. It is counter intuitive somehow i.e. numbness meaning you can feel something rather than the other way around. I decide to go the local hospital for the blood test I should have had a month earlier. Barry Hospital is a small hospital and one draws a ticket for a blood test; I get number 89 whilst 75 is the current one shown. A charity Zumba class is advertised on the waiting area notice board along with a range of other random announcements. One in particular catches my eye as I can’t work out what it means; a poster says ‘100% medicines reconciliation achieved in several wards’. I assume this is good but why I can’t work out.

 The woman sitting next to me speaks very loudly as if talking to fellow patients rather than her 7 – 10 year old daughter. The woman is irritated at the length of wait. We chat about hospital trivia for short while before my number appears on the screen and I follow the red line to the phlebotomist. By this time its noon and the blood extractors have been at it for nearly four hours.I apologise for my odd speech as the numbness has given me a lisp accompanied by senile drooling; sophisticated it is not as I’ve only got a tissue rather than a neat handkerchief. ‘Oh you’ve reminded me I’ve got to rebook my dentist appointment’ the nurse responds. ‘Yes he’s leaving the NHS’, really how fascinating I silently empathise.

 Frankly I just the needle to be inserted, blood taken and the belt tightened around my upper arm removed. The whole process takes a matter of minutes as the routine test is only for a single test; when the nurse looks at the referral form the disappointment was palpable! Perhaps I should have been more sympathetic saying ‘oh seeing as I’m here why not check for anaemia, thyroid, diabetes and a random disease just for fun!

 Finally I make it to Starbucks having decided on a smoothie as it comes with a straw; I am desperate for a coffee but the linen frock I’m wearing is clean on today. Numb lips is already meaning I can’t multitask whilst driving and enough time has been wasted this morning already! There is however a hole in my plan; the Mango and Passionfruit thing is basically crushed ice; the extreme cold is not exactly the compatible with sensitive teeth! I’ll save you from the description of eating the Cinnamon Swirl which I had replaced with a Raspberry and Apricot Muffin of the skinny variety. The skinny muffins have a slight plastic texture which somehow means there are fewer crumbs!

 Today marks the launch of ‘Me and Mr Putin’ the fairy story fantasy serial for adult women I mentioned last week. The story is introduced today and will be followed by a 500 weekly nugget for your delectation. Rather than making the missive even longer the serial will be on the Victorious Endeavours wordpress site with the link embedded my weekly correspondence.

 I trust you have had time to peruse the Autumn Salon Programme I circulated last week. I must apologise for the grammatical error in the covering email; thank you to the two of you who brought this to my attention. I confess I noticed it too late to rectify it; I could blame it on father related fatigue but that would be sheer cowardice!

 So now for Mr Putin ladies – do pop a comment on the site to let me know what you think.

In sophistication

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