One of the last things I needed to do before embarking on my next Reading adventure was to visit the dentist in Aberystwyth. It’s the sort of detail that you don’t end to see in the documentaries – when Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor rode around the world on their motorbikes, there was lots of footage of them trying out their bikes, collecting their helmets and looking at maps, but at no time did they cancel the newspapers or arrange for someone to feed the goldfish while they were away.
I am sure there are many readers who have the same issue with dentists as I do. There is a dread that starts to fill my very soul about two days before an appointment, a feeling that grows until it becomes a sea. The Dread Sea.
After two visits, ten years apart, I decided (and by that I mean I was persuaded by thesnailofhappiness) that I ought to try to go more regularly, which apparently is more often than once every 5 years. I have gone every 6 months for the last year and a half, including a visit to have a tooth removed, which ended in me lying on the surgery floor trying to explain to the dentist that I wasn’t going to sue or die, I was just going into shock which is what old wooses do the second they lose a drop of blood. Basically, I was being rubbish.
The thing is I had a bad experience, or several bad experiences in fact, leaving me sure that a trip to the dentist was the very opposite of a visit from the tooth fairy. Mostly, it is the well-worn lie “if it hurts, just hold up your hand and I’ll stop” that haunts my dental psyche.
The dentist I have in Aberystwyth was, however, great. She understood that I was, for the most part, a big old woose with the pain threshold of an oversensitive nerve ending. When I held my hand up for her to stop, she stopped – even when all she was doing was looking at my records on the computer.
This time, I was saddened to discover that she was moving on to a different practice, in south Wales (not because of me, I hasten to add, at least I don’t think so). And that’s when I did something I have never, ever done before.
I hugged my dentist.
Still reeling from the news, I left the surgery numb, and for once, it wasn’t due to the anaesthetic or having been punched by a dentist. I passed the old Laura Ashley building on the corner of Terrace Road and Northgate Parade. Festooned with planning notices, I stopped to see what they were.
Not content with flattening a row of houses and building on a much-needed car park, for no readily apparent reason, Tesco are opening up an Express or a Metro or whatever they are called, less than a quarter of a mile from the planned behemoth of their new store. Given that Aberystwyth is not exactly a big town, the sense of this must have been lost in the bundle of Clubcard points some planner somewhere received (allegedly).
Unlike my now ex-dentist, holding your hand up doesn’t seem to make them stop.