Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Space-hopper face

As I went to bed last night I started to shake uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering like woodpeckers on crack. I found the whole thing incredibly amusing for some reason and kept waking up in the night with a pillow so wet I might as well have been sleeping in a paddling pool. I’m still functioning, however, and managed a full day’s work, today despite feeling like I’ve been hit in the face by a space hopper.

The cafe was very quiet this morning and, as usual, I found myself tuning into little bits of conversation. A woman came to the counter. “What can I get you?” asked Rob, who owns the cafe. “A new body” said the woman, wryly. Rob laughed, “I can’t sort you out with one of those, but I can give you something which is fairly healthy.” “I have cancer.” She said the sentence angrily with no trace of irony. The words reverberated around the room. Rob plainly didn’t know what to say. “I’m very sorry to hear that” he murmured. What else can you say? The woman immediately apologised and I suddenly felt incredibly sorry for her. It was obviously one of these days when everything was collapsing around her like a house of cards and she just snapped. And why shouldn't she be able to say that she's suffering? It's sad that those striken by a disease so horrible are somehow expected to spare all our blushes by keeping their feelings to themselves. Afterall, when Rob asked how I was when I walked into the cafe, I told him I had a bad cold... I didn't feel the need to apologise for sharing that information.

I went from the cafe to the dentist for a check-up and a session with the hygienist. I now have the smoothest, cleanest teeth in London. Hygienists are cruel creatures though, aren’t they? They always make me feel so unclean. Every time I go in, she scrapes a piece of sharp metal around my gums, draws blood, and then tells me I’m bleeding because I don’t floss often enough. She also has this unpleasant ritual where she wipes the plaque that she’s scraping off my teeth onto a little piece of tissue paper which she leaves on my chest. It’s like a sort of punishment, which I believe is meant to make me want to see her more regularly. What she forgets is that, at £50, she’s quite a luxury. Today I was also fitted for a new gum guard, which I’ll need to wear in bed from now on. I have apparently ground my teeth down a fair amount since she last saw me, which doesn't surprise me. The teeth grinding also explains the pains in my shoulders which I now routinely wake up with. Fascinating and scary. What is even more fascinating and scary is that the procedure of having a gum guard moulded and fitted is a third of the price if you do it privately rather than on the NHS. She offered me both. I opted for the cheaper option. I asked her if anyone went for the NHS route and she said I’d be surprised. I think she was lying.

It’s the 31st May tomorrow. I’m going to work myself into the ground, because I don’t like the thought of it being June!

350 years ago, Pepys went with his wife and servants by water to Gravesend in Kent. They had intended to have a peek at one of the Navy ships in the Hope, but came across Shepley, one of Lord Sandwich’s servants, in a hoy (a boat) bringing a cargo of gifts to Lady Sandwich including a “little Turk and a Negroe” which were intended as pages for Sandwich’s children, and a whole load of curious animals and birds. Pepys thought they were all very attractive, but suddenly started panicking that he’d catch something from one of the animals, so took the first boat he could find back home. He was probably being quite wise. It was, of course, boats from the continet which brought the plague to England less than three years later.

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