I flicked through magazines on the table. There was a comprehensive selection of women’s monthlies. FEEL BAD ABOUT YOUR BODY WEEKLY! had an exclusive on some unfortunate celeb who had been been SPOTTED! having the temerity to store some of her body weight as fat. The latest ‘Ireland’s Own’ was there – an reassuring essential for any dentist’s waiting room. I read the ‘Catch the Criminal’ section and was pleased that Inspector Graham and I had both seen right through the smooth-talking Briggs’ alibi. If he hadn’t left the house as he had claimed, why had the snow melted on the warm engine of his car?!

The morning went downhill from there.

The CJ Fallon-published Rainbow series had plenty of handy lessons for 1980s primary schoolchild. As you progressed through school, the jam sandwiches of Ann and Barry, the friendly animals Down On The Farm and helpful elves in Away to Fairyland were left behind. There were no ‘new words’ in pink at the bottom. By time got to Silver Springs the typeface was Times New Roman and the pictures were smaller. You could read about the Minotaur or how Jack Magee tricked the Devil but the snippet that stays with anyone who read Silver Springs (Stage 3 Book 2) is Pam Ayre’s poem – “Oh I wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth”

As a cautionary tale about the perils of eating too many sweets, it was powerful. Yet its message got lost along the way for one person in particular.

I thought I had looked after them. I was smug about my smig. “No fillings” I told anyone who’d listen. Then one day a piece of tooth broke while eating a Double Decker. Sometimes it’s the ones you love hurt you the most. Even now I shudder at buying the nougaty delight even though it wasn’t its fault. In the shop they look at me like a cow looks at a farmer whose toe she just stepped on.

Now I’m in the dentist’s waiting room with its Ireland’s Owns and the WOMEN: THERE’S PROBABLY SOMETHING THE MATTER WITH YOU! magazines.

The dentist showed me in. We engaged in some chit-chat but it was stilted. As if he had arrested me and we both knew I was going to Sing-Sing for a long time. The radio was playing Lyric FM.  That’llbe soothing I thought, but as the procedure went on, Lyric’s choices seemed to echo exactly what was going on at that moment. During the innocuous early stages, the music was from the film Amelie.  The whole episode appeared to be a sweet-natured prank. By the time the dentist was explaining about how the tooth was far more ‘carious’ than he had thought and I’d flossed my teeth properly it wouldn’t have come to this, the music had changed to the soundtrack from ‘Barry Lyndon’. (Stanley Kubrick’s brooding epic about an Irish adventurer who hoors and gambles his way across 18th century Europe before coming to a dissolute end when his past catches up with him.)

And when he was drilling, sanding, shuttering and pouring concrete into my gob, Lyric FM was belting out full-blown Carmina Burana.

And that was only a temporary filling. I have to go back, but maybe next time I’ll bring earphones and listen to my own music. Like I haven’t a caries in the world.

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