It’s been a quiet day on the plumbing front.
Dave arrived – on his own – at 11 o’clock. When I asked about Eric, Dave puffed out his cheeks, winced as if a wasp had stung him somewhere vital, and told me that Eric was no longer ‘part of the team’.
Apparently, he’s had enough of the plumbing trade and has decided to become an artist instead.
It’s a bit of a career leap, but, though I don’t like to say it to Dave, who looks genuinely downcast, I doubt he’s a loss to the world of bathroom installation. He’s possibly no great gain to the art world, either, but fortunately that’s not my concern.
I had to pop out in the afternoon. A dental appointment. Two weeks ago I was told an upper molar needed filling and today was the day.
My dentist – a Mr Grip – is a cheerful chap who enjoys the sound of his own voice. He insists on talking to me about goodness knows what throughout the procedure. As much of the work is done with a drill thundering away inside my mouth, I fail to catch a word he says.
Afterwards, as I drink from a cup of pink water – my reward for helping to fund his retirement gîte in France – Mr Grip says he fears my tooth could ‘devitalise’ in the near future.
I don’t quite catch this first time round and ask him to repeat himself. Well, to be blunt, I hear him perfectly well, but can’t believe my ears.
‘You mean it could die?’ I ask.
For once, a cheery grin eludes him and he seems seriously discomfited. ‘Well, I wouldn’t look at it like that,’ he says.
‘How should I look at it?’ I inquire. I half-expect he will tell me I should think of it as going to a better place. But he doesn’t.
‘Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see how things turn out,’ he says.
There was a time when, if you went to see the dentist, he set about you like a pig in an abattoir. (The first one I ever had, as a boy, stunk of garlic and always had a cigarette dangling from his lips.) But they didn’t mince their words and, when a tooth had to be pulled, would cheerfully whack a rubber mask across your face and gas you till you squealed.
(I always saw Jesus coming for me when I was under, so it was an odd experience in many ways.)
Still, at least you could respect your dentist – much as a condemned soul thinks well of the axe-man on spotting the size of his blade.
Now they tell you your tooth could ‘devitalise’; then cross their fingers and hope for the best.
No wonder the nation is going to the dogs.
When I get home, at just gone 4, Dave has left for the day. I pop my head into the bathroom and notice that the sink has gone and there are no walls to speak of. Just lots of empty space, timbers and gaps where piping used to be.
I wonder if Eric has painted anything today. I don’t suppose he has.
Thought for the Day
‘My mother-in-law has a razor-sharp mind. If it dropped to her neck, I’d be a happy man.’ Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)