The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - February 25, 2016

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I had a tooth out the other day. You may remember, though probably won’t, a recent column in which I told about having bad breath because of a problematic molar.

Well, it’s that one that’s gone. It was quite an emotional parting, after all we’ve been together more than 30 years, man and boy, Farley’s Rusks to Steak Diane.

It was also an unusual experience for I have not had any teeth out, nor any dentistry work of note, since I was a small child and the local dentist removed five milk teeth.

The dentist, I kid you not, drove a gold Ferrari and was later struck off for bad practice. He had been taking out teeth which didn’t need taking out to earn extra cash.

To this day my mother is mortified at putting her youngest offspring through such unnecessary pain.

Back in those days, the dentist gave you gas before you had something serious done. The gas was so hideous – as anyone who has had it will concur – that I remember it vividly 30-odd years on.

The dentist clasped a huge rubber implement to my mouth and told me to count to 10. I would have obeyed his orders were it not for the fact that this stuff was so sickeningly strong you were spark out by the time you got to three-and-a-half.

Later, if you were one of the lucky ones that is, you’d wake in the arms of a parent, blood oozing from your gums, with the distinct feeling that something horribly untoward had just happened. I remember on the wall of my old dentist’s a big poster featuring an attractive young woman, in full make-up, looking lovely, and smiling heartily despite the fact she had a drill in her mouth. It had the cheerily misleading caption, ‘Hooray! For oral hygiene’.

On an adjacent wall was another poster, featuring an evil looking dentist trying to yank a tooth out a man’s mouth. The caption was, ’Trust me, I’m a dentist – it won’t hurt a bit’. At first I thought it was meant to be humorous, but soon realised it was on this poster that our dentist based his technique.

When that first dentist got struck off, taking my five milk teeth with him (apparently he got £11 for them on eBay – not a bad price), we changed to a much nicer surgery. It was a family-run place, the dentist’s wife acting as the receptionist, and they were a lovely couple.

This place was notable for the fact that it was less dentist surgery, more like being invited round for dinner. It was a big mid-terrace house and some days, as you walked in, you’d see the dentist and his wife reclining in their pyjamas while finishing off their breakfast.

The dentist’s chair was in his lounge. Often as he removed a filling, he’d be watching a re-run of last night’s Match of the Day. If the team he supported, Manchester City, scored a goal at a crucial moment in your treatment, your teeth were never the same again.

Anyway that was in days gone by.

Nowadays I go to a right fancy place, which is all gleaming white walls and very much the picture of a modern medical facility. When you check-in you don’t speak to a receptionist, you swipe a card. As a result it’s not half as much fun, but on the upside they do seem to know what they’re doing.

I’d actually only popped in there to ask the dentist to have a look at my problem tooth and was mildly surprised, not to mention perturbed, when he replied, ‘well then, let’s whip it out shall we?’

It was quite an experience, let me tell you, especially when the anaesthetic wore off just as he was using what looked like a pair of B&Q supersize pliers to yank the offending blighter out of my mouth.

‘Did that hurt?’ he asked, as I flew off the chair and landed on the carpet some seven feet away.

‘Yes, it did a tad’, I replied.

Eventually after much heaving and pulling he finally got it out (accompanied by a worryingly large amount of blood) and then the real hammer blow.

‘No strenuous exercise for the next 24 hours,’ said the nurse.

“But my five-a-side team has a vital match tonight against the top-of-the-table,” I protested.

The lads were very sympathetic when I rang to cancel – ‘you’re not playing football because of a tooth? Are you serious? You big jessie’ – but on the upside it did mean a very relaxing evening on the couch asking Mrs Canavan to bring me a hot beverage every half hour ‘to numb the pain…’

Next time I let you cross, please give me a wave

Pelican crossings. Why don’t 
pedestrians wave any more?

Call me a grumpy old man (and you’d be right), but this is something that is increasingly annoying me.

I know, technically, pedestrians don’t need to wave.

Stopping is not something the driver is doing out of consideration for others, he/she is obeying the law.

You wouldn’t wave at a shopper for not shoplifting so, you could argue, why wave at a motorist for doing what the law demands?

But, as a driver, I get very irked when there is no response. I am a very nice driver. If I see someone approaching a pelican crossing, I will slow early and even flash my lights in jocular fashion a couple of times to indicate I’ve seen them and I am coming to a halt.

Which makes it all the more frustrating when someone wanders across without even so much looking up from their mobile phone and bag of cheese and onion crisps.

I’m not suggesting the pedestrian on the pelican crossing should rush to the driver’s window and profusely thank them for coming to a halt, perhaps invite them round for dinner the following Tuesday, but would it hurt to give a little wave or perhaps doff their cap?

Right, rant over. As you were.