Posted by: Valerie | November 4, 2010

The Edge of Winter

 Last week I accepted the challenge to write about my dark and dreary Sunday when absolutely nothing of interest happened. As a result, I wrote the longest posting in over a year and also collected the most hits.

Once again nothing much has happened so I have decided to write about my latest trip to the dentist. All agog, are you? Root canal – two words no-one wants to hear pass the dentist’s lips. But there it was, either have a root canal or lose an otherwise perfect tooth. No choice at all. I had a whole week to worry about it and I made the most of it. I’d never had a root canal but I’d heard such horror stories and anyone I spoke to all week groaned and shook their heads in sympathy, thereby confirming all my fears. I don’t have a particularly good track record with dental procedures and practically died of one botched extraction a few years ago. Ach, this is getting dull… suffice it to say that the root canal was trouble free but expensive.

Horror flick?

But let me tell you about my dentist. He is a short gingery chap with a dry humour. He chats chummily while his victim has a mouth full of metal instruments – don’t they all? He has Scottish forebears and was telling me about his grandmother who went to have a tooth pulled in Scotland many years ago. When she came round from the anaesthetic she discovered that she was completely toothless! She was eighteen.

Anyone acquainted with British National Health dentistry knows that is brutal and painful – at least it was when I was there. Hopefully it’s better now. I was so scared as a child that I would concentrate hard on willing my mother to forget my appointments with Dr. Edric Black. Once it actually worked! Brian, the Bancroft dentist, explained to me that during the war, would-be dentists in the armed forces were given a very basic training which did not include anaesthetics or any of the finer skills and after they were demobbed they had the right to hang up their shingles and torture the unsuspecting public – including little girls!

Visiting my dentist is actually quite pleasant. His office is tastefully decorated with his own paintings which are really good. His computer monitors show an ever-changing collection of his own photographs from all over the world so obviously he’s got more than dentistry on his mind. No doubt dentistry furnishes the wherewithal for the extensive world travelling. Brian the dentist also has a son who is an opera singer – yes, really. I always hoped that one of my three children would want to be a dentist. Think of the money we could have saved. Actually even if one of them had become a dentist s/he would likely have chosen to open a practice in Churchill, Manitoba or somewhere equally inaccessible.

A handsome llama I met recently.

Both my twin brothers (brothers who are twins, not…) are married to vets which also might have been extremely handy. One is in Calgary and the other is in Kent. Given the number of animals our family has accumulated we could have kept a practice running quite successfully all on our own. My sister Sue must have at least twenty animals at any given time. Thanks to her present vastly improved lifestyle (his name is Doug) she is much more controlled about her animals than she was a few years ago. I can remember counting 99 beating non-human hearts that she was responsible for at one time. Horses, pigs, llamas, emus, goats, donkeys and two truly horrible parrots! No-one can match Sue’s menageries although my son Richard and Elizabeth, his wife, have eight cats and the rest of us generally have a couple of this and a couple of thats. Richard in Charlottetown, PEI, has a very close relationship with the island’s Vet College and gets free treatment for his eight pampered moggies. Richard was marking papers recently when he just managed to snatch a student’s paper away before one of the cats coughed up a fur ball onto it! Would have been embarrassing to explain that.

Assuming that there won’t be any serious snow I’m off to Ottawa on Sunday to spend a little time with Deklin and his Mummy and Daddy. Deklin has been in a very posh daycare for at least a couple of weeks now, enrolled in music and French, so I am going to see what progress he has made. Maybe Maman instead of Mum- mum? He’s only 16 months old!

I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of friends and catching up with metropolitan life. I fly around visiting, coffeeing, breakfasting, lunching madly for a couple of days and by the time I start for home, I am so sick of traffic and traffic lights that the open road is a fine sight. Over the hills and back to Joe who has probably been burning bonfires while I have been away. He’s like that.

One of Joe's fires


  1. haha, I like your blogs about ‘nothing’!

    I have a very tame dentist who complains that I am not funding her retirement! Although I have given her a small fortune over the twenty something years I’ve been going, just for checkups and the occasional filling.

    I do also keep the local vets in business.

    Have a good time in Ottawa, hopefully Joe won’t burn the forest down while you are away.

  2. Beautifully written, VA. I really enjoyed it.

    I well remember that sadist Edric Black. Having been even more successful in persuading our impressionable mother to forget my appointments with the personification of evil – a two year respite – I came to regret it bitterly. Black gave me 12 (yes, twelve) fillings in two appointments, all without anaesthetic. It was only years later, when I was an adult and went to another dentist, that I discovered there was such a thing as a local anaesthetic for dental work.

    Why twelve? Well, our sainted paremts were very generous when it came to buying huge quantities of junk (chocolate bars etc etc) and storing them in the cupboard under the stairs, ie with maximum accessibility.

    So the combination of a sweet tooth, endless marshmallows and choccy biccies, and a man who specialised in inflicting pain doomed me.
    My own children only whisper the name of Edric Black, who is irretrievably bracketted in their consciousness with Lord Voldemort himself.

  3. Tom, it seems from one of Val’s former blogs that your family had open access to sweets because a family member owned a grocery store–so of course they probably bought or “acquired” in bulk!!
    What was it about the Scots and their teeth? I moved to Milngavie after 4 years in Pittsburgh–from the smoke to the gently genteel. However we only had enough money for a small newly built semi-detached outside of the village. Many of the neighbors looked upon this as the pinnacle of their success–not quite the Gorbals to Chelsea but not far off either. And–many of the women didn’t have a tooth in their head!! Young women–and this in 1974. Was this their way of fending off tooth decay–did Mr. Black, or others of his ilk, not see that he was in fact limiting his patient base –or–another thought-did he make a huge profit on a set of upper and lower choppers?? Coming from the refined area of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough (laugh line inserted here) this whole scene was quite horrifying.
    How do you do it, Val? So much out of so little.
    When I visited my first dentist in Tucson he told me that it was obvious I was English as soon as I opened my mouth–and he wasn’t talking about my accent!!

    • Hah! That is exactly what my first dentist in Ottawa said to me! Re how do I do it? I haven’t a clue really. It’s a stream of consciousness things.

  4. I’m sorry but that llama looks fake! Those can’t be his eyebrows or lips!

    • Honest and true – that is a real llama just as nature made him. I do agree he has a goofy look though.

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