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Dentistry and cars

Yesterday I was in the absurd position of having to give up a day of my life in order to spend seven hours travelling to the south coast essentially to take my elderly father to a half-hour appointment at his local dentist. This state of affairs had arisen because – although we had specified to the caring agency that we required carers who could not only drive but actually possessed their own cars – his latest, who does have a clean driving licence, unfortunately doesn’t own a car.

I’d already spent most of Wednesday at the coast in order to supervise the hand-over from one carer to the next, during which the issue over the new carer not having a car became apparent. As nobody else in the family was available to do it, thus the task of taking my father to the dentist yesterday fell to your truly.

One of the two notable aspects of my day was an insight into the extraordinary manner in which dentists operate.

When we arrived at the premises, after announcing ourselves to the receptionist and sitting down in the waiting area, we were immediately disturbed by workmen who were doing building works of one kind or another somewhere in the tiny building. For some two minutes we could hardly hear ourselves think as a pneumatic drill was applied to a wall with ear-splitting effect.

My father loves quoting the experience of one of my brothers who spent some time working in Japan. There apparently, for example, all roadworks are deliberately done at the dead of night simply in order to avoid inconvenience to the public as they go about their business (commuting, taking kids to school etc.) during daylight hours.

roadwordsContrast this with Britain, in which all roadworks are always undertaken exclusively during daylight normal office hours (9.00am to 5.30pm) specifically – and most importantly – not only to suit the lifestyles of the workmen, but also in order, if at all possible, to annoy the British public to the maximum possible extent.

Furthermore, wherever and whenever possible, it seems British roadworks are always set up to reduce roads to single file lanes etc. … and thereafter left untouched and used (and certainly completely unoccupied by workmen) for a minimum of 10 weeks deliberately in order to cause disruption and frustration to British motorists.

As a result, in our dental surgery yesterday – in between blasts of drilling – ‘gallows humour’ comments began being bandied about amongst those of us sitting in the waiting area, e.g. “Crickey! That’s a big drill!” and “I’m glad I’m not that patient!” (and similar).

My father’s dental appointment was a follow-up to one in which, during a regular examination, it was noted that he’d lost a crown to one of his back teeth which now needed re-capping. When my brothers and I noted he’d been given a quotation of £550 for the insertion of some new-fangled (porcelain) crown that would leave his repaired tooth looking particularly white and spectacular, we challenged it. We pointed out that – frankly – at 91 years of age my father hardly needed to have his gnashers restored to looking like those sported by Cary Grant in the 1950s. All he needed was a bog standard cap to render his broken tooth comfortable and secure.

As a result yesterday, after being given a small jab to numb the pain, having a cast taken of the tooth and then a temporary cap implanted by the dentist in advance of having the real deal applied next month, my father subsequently limped to the receptionist’s counter and was invited to feel lucky that he was only being relieved of £300 for his troubles thus far.

Feels like money for old rope to me.

While I’m on the subject, my other primary irritant yesterday occurred on the drive down to Portsmouth. Approaching Guildford on the A3, I found myself in the outside lane, two cars behind a light grey A4 estate going at the regulation 70mph.

fumesBut it was one of those cars you occasionally come across which clearly has some sort of exhaust problem that the driver is either blissfully unaware of – or alternatively – don’t give a fig about.

There were a rash of stories in the media earlier this week about the fact that the UK has been given a ‘final warning’ about its vehicle CO2 fumes, with London and the south-east generally being way above the limits permitted by EU law and causing a huge and dangerous health risk.

All I can say is that yesterday I managed to identify the vehicle (see above) which is causing 75% of them.


About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts