I don’t know what was more painful yesterday when I had my crown done: the drilling, or the squabbling between the dentist and her assistant.
‘What are you doing now?’ she says, glancing up through her spattered face guard at the young girl in the corner.
‘I’m spraying the tray.’
‘Well don’t spray the tray. You don’t need to spray the tray. It makes no difference.’
‘No buts. Just pass me the something-technical. Not that one, the other one. Thank you.’
The way she says thank you. Clamped more tightly than my head.
‘And then something-else-technical please.’ *sigh* ‘No. That’s the other-technical-thing. I want the something-else-technical please.’
Which turns out to be a thunderingly slow drill bit, the kind of thing you might use to scour a tunnel through a mountain, or maybe one of those heavy floor polishers, miniaturised, studded with diamonds.
The dentist frowns at the assistant whilst she snaps it off and snaps on something even more terrifying, dropping the other one into her tray with a clatter.
‘You don’t need to change your gloves,’ she says. ‘Why are you changing your gloves?’
‘I thought…’
‘Keep the gloves. We’re not made of gloves.’
She sighs.
The assistant moves to the other side of the room.
More drilling.
‘Suction!’ says the Dentist. ‘My patient cannot swallow.’
The assistant hurries back over and jabs me in the uvula with the hoovula.
I can’t help gagging.
‘Eeeezzzzy now,’ says the Dentist. ‘There you go! That’s got it!’

dog training

Walking with Lola over the woods today. A stout, bush-hatted, wax-cotton jacketed woman appears, striding stick-first through the rain, accompanied by a black and white collie cross that even from here I can tell is happy to be out despite the weather. As soon as the dog sees us it comes bounding over, instantly nose to nose with Lola, both of them doing that excited dog thing, where they straighten their front legs and make feinting half-jumps, like they’re practising CPR, tails up. I’m happy for them to run around after each other for a while, but the woman starts shouting: Candy! No! Come here, Candy! Come here!
I want to shout back that it’s okay – but I don’t, because I remember when we had our first dog, Buzz, and what a scrappy dog he was, picking fights for no apparent reason, despite the fact we took him to dog obedience classes, where – of course – he was the best behaved dog there.
‘Diamond dog, your dog’ said the trainer.
And all we could take from that was that it was all our fault. Buzz wasn’t scrappy with anyone else. He took his cue from us.
Anyway, the point is, whenever Buzz ran up to another dog, the dog’s owner would invariably shout It’s okay! He’s fine with other dogs! And what we wanted to shout back was Yours, may be…

Candy’s owner has planted her walking stick in the ground and is yelling now.
Candy! Come here! I said – COME HERE! in a surprisingly harsh tone, like a prison guard on a work detail, levering shells into a shotgun.
Even Lola seems cowed.
Candy obviously recognises the change in tone. She looks at Lola, then at me, then at Lola again, and is suddenly away. Seconds later I watch her sit at the woman’s frog-eyed wellies, looking up.
I expect to see the woman lean down and fuss Candy for being such a good dog coming back (and I’m all set to give them both a cheery wave). What actually happens is that the woman wags a finger in Candy’s face: Why don’t you come back when I tell you to? she says, which doesn’t seem at all fair. Lesson over, she pulls her walking stick out of the ground ready to carry on, but then stops again and looks back down at the dog, as if Candy has added something only she could hear.
Because I said so! snaps the woman – and the two of them move away into the gloom.


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