I received a letter last week. Now, as I'm presently unemployed due to ill health, getting mail brings out mixed emotions. You simply don't receive that much post when you're out of work for some reason and so when you do, there's a little moment of childish delight; an 'ooh' moment like you're getting your very own unexpected Christmas or Birthday on a small scale. But then that swiftly fades, as more often than not the letters are universally official; a freepost brown envelope job or a neatly typed, evenly spaced white envelope, 2nd class, both of which can herald stomach churningly bad news.
It was one of those discreet little white jobs that popped through my letter box last week.
After the 'Ooh' and then the sense of impending dread, I ploughed a furrow of paper up with my thumb in opening it and found it was a note from my dentist.
Yes, my dentist. Cue stomach churning.
It informed me that I hadn't been to an appointment with them since....wait for it...2008, and well frankly, the gist of the letter seemed to be that they missed me.
It's a one way affair, as I assure you I didn't miss them. In fact I presumed I'd been struck of their books by now anyway. But clearly not.
Now let's be plain, I hadn't intended to go four years without a dental appointment, it's just if I don't have an issue with my teeth I see little point in troubling them. They're busy people right?
That and they frighten me to death!
An unnatural phobia I know but I simply cannot stand them, or more specifically what their work entails. Because their work entails pain. Pain to me. That's not so unnatural now is it?
It doesn't help that in my early twenties I briefly dated a rather attractive girl who happened to be a dental nurse. She would regale me with insider secrets and horror stories, all of which slightly diminished her attraction. Well, only slightly, she did have a lovely round bum.
I've nothing against people who work in the dental profession, I don't feel they're all evil former Waffen SS Concentration Camp monsters preoccupied with whether "It's safe?", like Laurence Olivier's character in Marathon Man - in the image I've included here (though, with the law of averages, some must surely slip through the net; seriously CRB's are not what they should be are they? And I really feel my former girlfriend's previous employers were definitely ex Nazis judging by her tales!) Indeed, my dentist is a very nice pleasant middle aged man who I've a lot of time for, providing he keeps his latex fingers well away from the inside of my mouth that is!
Anyway, with a heavy heart eased only by the notion that my present unemployed predicament would mean I would not have to pay for the pain I'd endure, I picked up the telephone last Thursday and requested an appointment.
That appointment was today.
Mildly unsettling moment to begin with; the reception had no knowledge of me. This would have rocked me to the core far more if a) I wasn't perfectly happy to vacate the premises immediately with a quick "I'm not down for an appointment? Oh well, my mistake. Is that the time? Sorry to trouble you. Bye!" and b) I was distracted with the opportunity to lech at a very pretty big eyed, sharp profiled blonde dental nurse who was stood looking bored behind the receptionist.
What is it with me and dental nurses?
After giving my date of birth in, the receptionist informed me that I wasn't down for an appointment because I wasn't due to see the dentist in that particular room-despite my asking specifically to see him, that charming nice middle aged man of old-no I was due to see Hannah who resided next door, upstairs.
And so with heavy heart I went next door and upstairs.
Mercifully I was sat in the claustrophobic reception waiting area for little under three minutes before being called. Even more mercifully, Hannah was a young pretty and professional looking woman.
Her nurse on the other hand was bored looking (even more so than the pretty one I'd just leched at), unwelcoming and unattractive. Boo.
A sit down in the chair and a few questions later, I was asked to lie back, think of England (or at the very least my old flame dental nurse or the dental nurse from downstairs) and open wide.
What language do dentists speak? Surely I'm not alone in lying there wondering just what they're going on about?! It sounds so ominous "Eight is partially erupted" Partially erupted?! Bloody hell! I feel like someone who has inadvertently found himself in Bletchley Park as all around him are deciphering the Enigma Code.
Had my teeth X-Rayed. Never fun. I hate how they scurry out of the room leaving you alone and frankly inadequate, your head turned to the left and then the right will you chomp down on those little wing things. Hannah, I expected more from you, your nurse on the other hand, proved up to to my original first impression.
Finally Hannah came back in and informed me that whilst today's ordeal was over, a new one lay on the horizon. I need fillings, two of them.
I expected one. On the way to London last October for the H.tv meet I rolled my tongue round the right side of my mouth and a part of my filling gave way, plopping onto my tongue. But I never bothered to get it looked at because it was tiny, caused me no issue and, as I said earlier, I thought I was no longer with a dentist.
I filed out into reception putting on a brave face and booked myself in for next Thursday.
I hate fillings.
It's not the needle. That's painful granted, but it's a short sharp scratch in the gum that is over in seconds.
It's not even the work itself. Like spy heroine Modesty Blaise I can almost separate my body from my mind and drift away, pretending it isn't happening to me. I perfect a stiff upper lip, difficult to do with someone's hands in your gob, imagine the sound of the drill is road works somewhere and think of more pleasant things (see bums and dental nurses from earlier)
No, what kills me is the horrible numb tingling sensation in your lips and jaw that occurs for what feels like an absolute age incorporating just before, all the way during, and for an unfeasibly irritating length of time afterwards. I hate it. It's my overriding issue with dentists and fillings.
So needless to say, I'm not looking forward to feeling like that next Thursday afternoon and evening.
I am looking forward to rinsing my mouth out with that red liquid they give you immediately after. I've always been rather partial to that taste and swallow a sneaky bit each time.
That's ok isn't it?
I know, I am not normal. I've known this for a long time now.