My old man’s a doctor, he wears a doctor’s hat.
Well, he’s retired now. And it wasn’t really a hat so much as a head mirror. Which is, as everyone of course knows, a dead give-away that he was an otorhinolaryngologist. That is, a snot doctor.
As well as ear wax, halitosis and nosebleeds, the old man dealt with a lot of colds and flu. Which meant he wasn’t always sympathetic to us when we had sniffles. “It’s probably death,” he’d say as he threw together one of his Jeevesish toddies, “there’s a lot of it about.”
(Hot toddy for when you feel like someone’s stuffed a pillow up your nose: generous two-finger measure of whisky, the same of boiling water, a spoon of honey, a squeeze of lemon and don’t be standing up when you drink it.)
But much worse than the wry sarcasm was when he took your illness seriously. Like Jimmy Nesbitt blinking into Hyde he could gear-change into a terrifying and cool professional, there to conduct your passing. I well remember his enthusiasm for my appendectomy scar – a lovely bit of work, he thought. And though I was bruised all up my body (what with being delicate like a princess) he cooed at the pretty sunset shades. He was less impressed by the junior doctor having had three goes to get the drip into my arm. “You’ve got very prominent veins,” he said, eyeing my arms hungrily. “You could get nails into them.”
Anyway. This morning my dentist was similarly delighted with me. “Ooh,” she said with great excitement, “how have you managed that?”
I have had some pain in one of my back molars for the last few days, having been chewing my teeth to accompany the happy, contented dreams in which I am battered to death by giant and blank-paged copies of the Benny Inside Story. I thought maybe I’d bruised the gum line, or cracked some of the filling. No, I have fractured the whole tooth from top to bottom. That takes some doing, apparently. And it cannot be repaired.
So on Wednesday I’m having the thing wrenched out and then getting the bloody gap fitted for dentures. Have three months with that before we can even think about gold replacements and other gangster accoutrements. But I realise I won’t be able to have this ersatz nasher in a glass of water by the bed at night. The cat would only drink it.
Tom Baker at 80 - Out Now!
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