The certainty of dentists and taxes

Friday November 12, 2004

To Boston, taking Graham back to the dentist. I dropped him off at the clinic and then drove down the road to a safe parking place. My brief was to go off for coffee but I’d walked no more than a few paces when my phone rang.

“Is that you?” I asked, lamely.

“Well, of course it’s me. Who else would it be?”

“It might be a wrong number.”

“Do I sound like a wrong number.”

“No, dear. So, what gives?”

“I’ve finished.”

“Oh lor. Does that mean a hospital job?”

“No, I’ve finished. I’ll tell you about it when I see you.”

“Ok. I’ll be outside the clinic in a couple of minutes.”

And, to our collective relief, it turned out that Graham’s teeth are in perfect order, no work is needed, and the periodic gumboil problem is best treated by a combination of a special mouthwash and a change in flossing technique. Not that the dentist was at all critical of Graham’s oral hygiene. He is and always has been fanatical on that one. Just needs to do a couple of things differently. And the bill for the whole two-visit job was just five pounds 75p. [Less than 10 US dollars.]

“We should celebrate that,” I said. “How’s about we trot over to Costa Coffee. They have Panettone

“Come on, then. Get a move one.”

I’d put on an extra layer of clothing before coming out but haven’t got it right yet because I was truly chilled by the time we’d walked over the river bridge and got to Costa Coffee. It may be that Boston is one of those towns that are always a couple of degrees colder than elsewhere in the winter. Something to do with being on a wide river, I suspect.

Once fortified, we walked over to Ottakar’s bookstore where Graham stocked up on Sci-Fi and I browsed the poetry section, settling on a new volume by Andrew Motion and an anthology with copious notes by Ruth Paddel. Then, heading for the paydesk, I passed the computing section and a ‘how-to’ book on eBay UK caught my eye. I picked that up, too. Poetry books are my substitute for chocolate so, within reason, I indulge myself without guilt. The ‘how-to’ book was, however, a bit of an extravagance. No matter, though—I shall put it up on eBay as soon as I’ve finished with it.

I’m still dithering over eBay, not at all sure I have sufficient application to be an eBay hobbyist. I’m slowly building my feedback list by buying the odd thing here and there and, this evening, I plucked up courage and put Graham’s good as new Palm Zire 72 PDA[1] up for sale. Graham used to do our eBaying but he’s lost interest and let his account lapse into a confusion of changed email and snailmail addresses. So, we’ll see. I haven’t forgotten my hankering to try out eBay trading, and I probably shall do it if I can ease myself in without trauma. I have to admit, though, that the mild excitement of the auction is really rather stimulating. Not, fortunately, addictive in my case, but quite interesting nonetheless.

Oh, one last thing and then I’m done for the day. I found that my double espresso in Costa Coffee had gone down without touching the sides, probably absorbed by the totally delicious Panettone, so I had a second. While sipping appreciatively I inspected the bill and, to my outrage, found that Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, adds 25p VAT to the price of a coffee these days. That’s appalling. As I am coming far too often to say, they’d put a tax on breathing if they could find a way.

[1] I’ve no way of checking that the electrics on the Palm PDA will work outside the UK, so I’m limiting this sale to the United Kingdom only.



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