Not frightened by fireworks

Friday November 3, 2006

Up early, washed and brushed, ready to attend a nine o’clock appointment at the dentist for a deep clean session. I had a basic clean and scrape on the NHS but, on the dentist’s recommendation, I stumped up the cash for a private session to undo the damage of ten years without good, regular dental care.

It was an uncomfortable experience, something akin to the sand-blasting treatment given to the masonry of a stately home. For something like thirty minutes I lay back, closed my eyes, relaxed as best I could, and let them have their way with me.

“Oh, wow!” I said at the end of it when I’d rinsed thoroughly and the dentist held up a mirror so’s I could see the result. “Thank you so much! Now I can smile again without shame. Apart from the Great Gap, of course.”

“We’ll start tackling that next week. Colour matching session on Wednesday?”

“I shall be counting the hours.”

When I got home after calling into Sainsbury’s for the day’s provisions Graham instructed me to open up for a close inspection.

“Bloody hell!” he said. “There’s a difference. The gap is still horrid, of course, but you’ve got your pearly whites back again. Well done. I think I shall do the same next time I go back.”

It’s true. The difference is astonishing. Not Hollywood white, of course, but perfectly respectable, clean and unstained teeth suitable to a bloke of my age and background. I’m pretty diligent with the brushing and flossing but there’s only so much you can do without a bit of professional help. The staining mounts up and I’d got to the stage where I was thoroughly ashamed of my teeth, and reluctant to smile, let alone laugh in public. By the end of the month I shall have a complete smile again and, as I say, I’m counting the hours.

The shadow on another bright sunny day was of course Graham’s return to the holiday camp to open up the bar for the weekend sessions. He didn’t want to go. I didn’t want him to go. Even Dolly didn’t want him to go.

We had a nice lunch of good, thick carved West Country ham and aromatic organic tomato on a lovely crunchy loaf of French country style bread, with a dollop of freshly-made English mustard on the side.

“That was yummy,” Graham said.

“Not at all bad. Now I’m off to give my teeth a good brushing and then I shall have a nap before we set out for St Audries. What are you going to do?”

“Oh, much the same.”

Back home, alone, I drew all the blinds and turned the TV on with the sound rather high to cover up the fireworks noise. It was Carnival day in Bridgwater and the celebrations went on very late. I’d thought of attending but didn’t want to leave Dolly on her own with all the howling rockets and sky-ripping explosions rattling the house. It’ll be Guy Fawkes the day after tomorrow, so the end of firework season is drawing close. I’ll be happy to see it go. So will Dolly.

Today’s OMPOWRIMO poem is part reportage, part a bringing together of a few thoughts and images that have been mounting up these past few days as the dark nights have come upon us. Three down, twenty-seven to go. I think I can do it. No promises of course because poems have a mind of their own and can run off to hide without notice or discernible reason. It’s clear they’re not frightened by fireworks, though, any more than me and Dolly.


Lost leaves
On the dark road between West Quantoxhead
and Kilve I had expected fallen leaves to run
like drunken mice from side to side. I switched
on my foglights, the better to see them dance.
Instead, some spoil-sport gale had swept
the road clean, leaving nothing but black tarmac
stretching into the night. I sighed, turned
the radio on, and let Vivaldi sketch my falling leaves.

John Bailey
Somerset, November 2006


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