Jaqui's Daily Blog

Charlotte my dental hygienist and I are discussing flossing. Charlotte says she is not very good at it which is not exactly what you might expect from a dental hygienist, now is it? She tells me that the other day, while flossing, she accidentally knocked a rather valuable glass vase off the sideboard. Whoever knew flossing was so, well, dangerous? Not to mention expensive.


You are probably there before me - we are talking about that new dance craze sweeping the nation. No, I haven’t tried it myself as yet because it looks like it involves the kind of move which will lay bare my extreme lack of coordination. Charlotte says one young man of her acquaintance is given to standing up several times while eating his breakfast for a quick floss before sitting back down for another mouthful of Weetabix. I ask whether she thinks the introduction of “The Floss” is likely to do anything to improve the nation’s dental health but she reckons this is, sadly, not to be counted upon. If anything, it may create confusion whenever she exhorts her patients to floss. You can imagine them, can’t you, leaping out of the dentist’s chair to show off their moves.


It’s always difficult to have a meaningful conversation - whether about flossing or anything else for that matter - when you are sitting in a dentist’s chair. This is for obvious reasons, as in one’s mouth being full of nasty instruments scaling and scraping and polishing away. Knowing this, I make sure that Charlotte is aware, before I even take to the chair, that I am having a Sensitive Tooth Period. “Be kind to me!” I beg, plaintively. Charlotte retorts that isn’t she always kind to me - so I have to backtrack hastily for fear of offending her. It’s never a good idea to offend anyone who is going to explore the state of one’s teeth with sharp implements. 


“You know what a wimp I am,” I excuse myself, but Charlotte says she doesn’t think I am a wimp at all, far from it. Just on what evidence she is basing this totally erroneous judgment on my Wimpiness I simply cannot imagine. 


Charlotte talks about gardening and the best time to plant out summer bedding. I have a mouth full of water (she has decided to engage in Water Torture today) so my gurgled suggestions are soggy, which is not the best environment for planting out your geraniums, pinks, antirrhinums or cosmos plants. The one-sided conversation moves on to the way in which children (as opposed to plants) grow, almost without you noticing the passage of time until suddenly they are All Grown Up. There is a lot I could add on this subject but we are onto polishing now. That’s a Royal We, you understand, as in I’m not making a whole lot of effort while Charlotte is working away assiduously (and mostly painlessly) on my behalf. 


Charlotte says my tooth brushing technique has sadly suffered as a result of my Sensitive Tooth Period but she feels able to forgive me in the circumstances. I promise I will try harder as I clamber out of the chair. I wonder if we should do a few floss moves, as a gesture of solidarity but decide against it. I think maybe I should practise it at home first. 


I am called next door to the Tooth Fairy’s domain and while she reads through Charlotte’s notes of our Previous Encounter, I take a rest in her chair. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” she apologises but I tell her I am quite happy, lying there with my eyes shut and pretending to be on a sunny beach somewhere warm and welcoming.  


I feel I need to check on The Floss when I arrive home. You doubtless know this but it was invented by a sixteen year old lad going by the name of The Backpack Kid. Apparently you don’t actually need to wear a backpack while flossing, which is a pity as I have a very beautiful, flowery backpack bought for me by My Boy one birthday. It would be good if I could at least look the part.


The best advice I read came from a Christchurch schoolboy who advised acting “like a zombie trying to swot flies away with both your arms at the same time.”


All I can say is, think before you floss...

Father’s Day.


There was no such date in the calendar when I was growing up which meant there was no special day to tell my dear Dad what he meant to me. It doesn’t seem fair, somehow. I am sure I’m not the only one who feels the same way on this day dedicated to Dads everywhere.


Mr B, as regular readers well know, considers Father’s Day is an American import and, as such, ranks far behind Mothering Sunday in significance. I notice, however, that he opened all his cards this morning with expressions of delight. If all our off-spring took him at his word and let Father’s Day slip past unnoticed and unmarked, I reckon he would feel more than a little bit miffed. He has so far received two phone calls from his brood and I am waiting to see which of the remaining two phones him during the Brazil - Switzerland match and how he responds to their loving greetings.


But let’s go back to my Dad. I have two First Memories. I remember being taken by him into the back bedroom to meet my newly born baby sister. I was three and a half. And I remember walking along the street with him holding my hand while I balanced one foot on the pavement and the other in the gutter. That lopsided walk stays fixed in my memory, close on seventy years later.


I remember that Friday night was always “Surprise Night” for my Little Sister and me. It was always the same “surprise” - a few sweets and a comic each, Tiny Tears for me and Chicks Own for my sister - but the anticipation, the excitement, the build-up was the same every week. That ability to make even the most mundane event special is something I will always remember about my Dad - and the one gift I would like so much to have inherited from him.


My Dad worked all the hours under the sun. Sunday was his one day off - but most Sunday afternoons, he sold ice-cream from a “stop me and buy one” tricycle. When I was in hospital, aged five, having my tonsils removed, my Dad turned up with ice-cream for all the children on the ward. As you can imagine, he was Everybody’s Hero.


 On summer weekends, we would drive to Shoeburyness, near Southend, where the ceremonial setting-up of the Primus stove, followed by the boiling of the kettle for the first cuppa, always felt like an adventure. On winter Saturday evenings, we knew to keep as quiet as mice while the football results were broadcast over the radio (my sister and I used to try to guess each score from the intonation of the announcer) and our father checked his Pools coupon. One day, he used to tell us, his boat would come in...


When I passed the “Scholarship” and found myself bound for Grammar School, my Dad was adamant that I had to start my new adventure feeling confident to face the world. My school uniform, purchased from a specialist outfitters, fitted me perfectly - he refused point blank for me to wear over-sized clothes which I could “grow into”. I can’t imagine how he paid for that uniform and it was many years later before I really appreciated what he did for me. 


We did have some tussles in my teenage years, hardly surprising when I wanted to get married at the age of eighteen and he wanted me to remain his little daughter forever. But my Dad was not one to risk losing a daughter and we surmounted our differences through his loving persistence and willingness to move on.


He was a loving Grandad to our Foursome, taking them on many a trip with my dear Mum. He played the piano with the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, for ever exhorting her: “Can you play ‘Far Away’?” She didn’t get the joke for ages. He told all of his grandchildren other daft jokes which they still recall today. Example: There were two eggs in a pan of boiling water. One said to the other, “Cor, it’s hot in here!” To which the second egg replied: “That’s nothing - wait till we get out of here, we’ll have our heads bashed in....”


I’m laughing, even as I remember...


Happy Father’s Day, dear Dad, and thanks for the memories.


I am steering my car carefully into our drive after an enjoyable Singing for Pleasure session, when I notice there are two District Nurses waiting for me. “Good timing!” they chorus, from which I am given to understand that they have either just arrived, or just left.


In fact they have just arrived and are pleased to see me. What I am not prepared for is that I am about to find myself on the set of a Carry On Film. Which one? Oh, for heaven’s sake...


The District Nurses are anticipating a difficult visit on account of the fact that Mr B will be required to lie down on his hospital bed while they administer a Doppler. Clearly Mr B’s reluctance to lie prone is well known to the Community Nursing Team and his reputation has gone ahead of him. It also occurs to me why there are two of them: it’s the Doppler effect. We have a brief case consultation on the doorstep where we agree that if Mr B can be persuaded into a semi-recumbent position this will suffice for the purposes of their measurements. Isn’t that a truly evocative word: recumbent. I will try to use it more often.


As it turns out Mr B is in exceptionally good form. The nurses start well by referring to him as “Young Man” - it’s a blatant attempt at ingratiating themselves with their patient and it works a treat. This is not a criticism, by the way; I am, myself, a Master at the art of Whatever Works For Mr B.


It turns out that the nurses are the perfect double act. Adding Mr B at his best into the equation makes for a script that could well have come straight out of Carry On Nurse. So, when asked if he has been finding it difficult to breathe, Mr B answers, meaningfully: “I couldn’t possibly comment!” When they measure his legs and find one slightly shorter than the other, followed by a short discussion about whether length is important, Mr B gazes at them quizzically and retorts: “You may say that..” Our Carry On Pair are beset by the giggles and somehow from then on everything they say, quite innocently, can be interpreted differently. “Are you alright?” they check with Mr B. “Only down one side,” he replies, predictably. 


I think our Dynamic Duo must be used to working with each other as the banter they exchange while attending to Mr B is little short of hilarious. Mr B keeps looking over to me and mouthing that they are a “right laugh.” It’s not your average visit by the District Nursing team.


By the time they leave us, Mr B has told them the story of his life as a Barnardo’s Boy, his glory days as a ball-boy on the courts of Wimbledon, and the excitement of 1966, the year England won the World Cup. Which was, incidentally, the year we were married. Mr B (possibly to deflect from any unintentional faux pas over the relative importance of events in 1966) tells them I am the best thing that ever happened to him. My eyes are prickling and it’s no longer, as before, with laughter. 


Mr B gets a kiss in the cheek from one of the nurses when they leave and, as I let them out, they thank me for such a “lovely visit.” The pleasure was, indeed, all ours.


Far away in Deepest Wales, the Middle of our (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys has emerged from an operation under general anaesthetic to re-set and plaster his broken elbow. Brave James has been a complete hero - and we have much to thank the staff who made his Hospital Experience as pleasant as it could be in all the circumstances. His mother, the Darling Daughter in Law, says he didn’t want to leave to go home, he was enjoying himself on the wii so much. 


We all have our grumbles sometimes about the NHS but today we saw the best of it - I’m not talking here about the extraordinary, life-saving side, but the simple, loving, caring side which helped a little boy feel reassured and had a slightly older fella chortling aloud with mirth.


Carry on, Nurses!


Mr B wants to know what today’s Daily Blog will be about. I think he is just checking whether he will need to edit it, in the event of any libellous statements I might make about him. As if!


I tell him that I am conflicted as to whether to write about the World Cup (which as a proportion of you may know started today) or about the baby gull which is living a perilous life on the roof of our Next Door But One Neighbours’ House. Decisions, decisions...


When Team Baldwin were young’uns (they are both well grown up now so may not want to be reminded of this) they quickly grew out of my traditional bedtime stories. Their answer to this, recognising that the story-teller in me was still keen to serve, as you say, was each to come up with five words which then had to be incorporated by me into that night’s story. As you can imagine, they took immense delight in supplying me with the most outrageous list of words in order to guarantee a story time like no other. I was always Up for the Challenge though I think it fair to say the Man Booker prize was safe from me. This, however, is why the idea of incorporating Mr B’s World Cup Wall-Chart and Baby Gull in a single Blog holds no fears for me. Though, obviously, you may have concerns of your own, my dear readers. 


I think it’s safe to say that if the Baby Gull survives the next few days, he (she? it?) will soon be a Source of Worry to me no longer. The England Footie team, however, may still be creating anguish in Mr B’s patriotic breast. 


I have played my part by taping a World Cup Wall-chart onto the wall, just above the radiator, at wheelchair height. This will keep Mr B gainfully occupied for the next few weeks provided I remember to supply him with a marker pen. So far he has reminded me twice; it would assist marital harmony if I were to come up with the goods before he asks again.


I also half-watched the Opening Ceremony with him (Robbie Williams - in Russia? Why?) and half-watched the first match. I didn’t really need to watch the whole match because Mr B kept yelling out every time Russia scored a goal. It’s going to be a long tournament but when you are mostly house-bound like my poor Mr B, then a Footie tournament is, honestly, Just The Ticket.


Meanwhile I keep having to pop out into the garden to check on the Baby Gull who keeps walking up and down the steep roof on precarious legs, all the time screeching piteously. First of all he totters down the roof tiles towards the chimney pot, behind which the nest snuggles, next time I look my fluffy friend is staggering upwards in what appears to be a suicide mission. His (her? its ?) parents don’t seem to be the least bit bothered about their off-spring’s painful progress. I guess in all the worthy books about raising a child (or baby gull - not that I’ve ever seen such a book) this would be described as “tough love.” Mr B says I should come inside, sit down and watch the footie with him rather than worry about something I can do nothing about. I’m not sure what he thinks he can personally do about England’s prospects, any more than I can adopt the baby gull and teach him (her? it?) to fly (particularly given that I have no head for heights) - but this isn’t the time to raise such doubts. 


I have been known in the past to go overboard in my support for the World Cup. That was in 1990 when, after years of being in a family where the women outnumbered the men four to two, I found myself in the minority with only Mr B and Our Boy at home. It was a case of beat them or join them - and as there was no chance of beating them, I decided to join them. With a vengeance. So diligent was I in pursuit of footballing heroes for what I called my Heroes Board that my menfolk both threatened to leave home. I may return to this subject later - unless I receive a significant pay-off...


Mr B is a Believer. He will believe in the England team for as long as their tournament hopes stay alive. For his sake, let’s hope they don’t go crashing out in the first round.


Likewise, let there be no crashing to the ground from next door but one’s roof. I know, Baby Gull, if you (hopefully) survive, you will grow up to be proud and greedy, stalking the pavements of Worthing, stealing people’s chips and surveying the world with a supercilious look on your face. Everyone will call you a pest.  


But just for the moment, like England - stay safe...

Procrastination is the thief of time. So said Charles Dickens and, let’s face it, he must have known, what with all those deadlines to meet as he turned out, with impeccable timing, the latest instalments of what would become our classic Victorian dramas. 


I’m rather good at procrastination, myself. For example, when I decided on the first sentence of today’s blog, I immediately googled other appropriate quotes about procrastination. Not because I’m planning to fill the Daily Blog with other people’s wise words (you will just have to make do with mine, as per usual. Wise or not. Though, thinking about it, I might not be able to resist a few thoughts from people cleverer than I am) but because it gave me an excuse to put off writing the next few paragraphs until I could get my head in order. Well, that’s my excuse and, as any skilled procrastinator knows, it’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end. Leonardo da Vinci said that by the way - I can imagine him chiding the Mona Lisa, telling her that if she’d “been” before she first sat down to be painted, instead of putting it off, then she wouldn’t be feeling so very uncomfortable now. 


Today I decided I could put it off no longer. For over a week an ultra-sensitive tooth has been giving me a twinge whenever I ate or drank anything cold or hot. Because I knew that I was due to visit the Tooth Fairy for a routine check-up on Monday next, I was reluctant to go to all the effort of picking up the telephone and asking for an earlier appointment. I mean, how would I fit an unscheduled visit in to my busy life? What with the roses to dead-head, the tomato plants to find a new home in their cosy grow-bags, the sunflower plants to talk to encouragingly. After all, tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week (Spanish proverb - presumably this is why everyone’s favourite Spanish word is mañana?)


Then yesterday my tooth started to complain rather more strongly, presumably because it is fed up with my procrastination and feels I need to be taught a lesson. There’s nothing quite like an Angry Tooth to make even the most stubborn procrastinator look up and take notice. So today, having left Mr B at Guild Care to enjoy his weekly pampering session, I headed to the Tooth Fairy’s Castle to see what she could do for me and my tooth. 


On my way, I rehearsed what I would say. I would understand, I would say, if she couldn’t fit me in over the coming days, especially as I was already booked in for Monday next...The Receptionist was having none of it - the Tooth Fairy had just had a cancellation, as it happened, so she could fit me in this very morning if I could hang around for the next forty minutes. “Your luck is in!” she told me, triumphantly. Well, I couldn’t say no, now could I? Sometimes it is good if decisions are taken out of a procrastinator’s hands. Or “Don’t wait, the time will never be right,” as somebody called Napoleon Hill once said.


Forty minutes later, having hared along to Guild Care to warn Mr B I might be a few minutes late, I was lying flat in the Tooth Fairy’s Chair while she probed gently inside my mouth. “Is it hurting now?” she asked, solicitously. I had to admit that the toothache had suddenly subsided the very minute I walked into her surgery - how could that happen? Apparently, the Tooth Fairy reassured me, it happens all the time. 


Fifteen minutes and an X-ray later, I left her surgery armed with antibiotics to tackle the infection which was causing my discomfort. I will be back in the Tooth Fairy’s chair on Monday where we will together decide what action we should take to prevent an occurrence. We will not delay. We will not procrastinate. Well, not much...


As Ellen deGeneres once said: “Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now. Don’t put it off.”


Well said, Ellen. You are a girl after my own heart...


Latest comments

09.06 | 00:14

We always called ourselves Maids of Kent.

02.05 | 10:44

Could try a dry run with the wheel chair and see where the snag points are.
I like the catapult idea as it just sounds so effortless!

11.04 | 14:05

Now I want to learn the art of towel folding!

22.03 | 22:20

I had to look up ambiturn. Power to you Jaqui. And our good wishes to Mr. B. Please mind your back and give yourself a break now and then.

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