Thursday, 16 April 2015

Going Mental about Dental

Regular readers of The Misfit will know that I used to work for a dentist.  Yes, I was the nurse who had everything (medically!) performed in her mouth by her work colleague.  I was the nurse whose boss got her so tipsy after a Christmas lunch he took great pleasure in telling all the patients booked for that afternoon (check-ups only) 'Look!  My nurse can't walk in a straight line!'  We're talking the 80's here - when stuff like that happened!

There was no fear in that surgery and a whole heap of laughs!

But over the years I lost my trust.  I became fearful.  I allowed the dentistry devils to move in.  In short, I developed a phobia which made me feel physically sick so that I couldn't actually think straight anymore.  Stupid? Yes!  Avoidable?  If, you have a logical brain, maybe.  But we are talking the The Misfit here!

So several visits to various practices and a few botched jobs later, I've been led me to the dentist of my dreams.

My last 'Demon Dentist' (no, I won't name and shame) left me with a half-broken wisdom tooth and said I'd need to be referred to the hospital for a surgical extraction.  I think the truth was, after FORTY MINUTES of wrenching, he basically gave up.  Hey!  At that point I was quite happy to leave - I'd had enough too.  (Memories of being in early labour sprung to mind - that moment when the midwives tell you to go home because nothing much is happening and you think to yourself, 'Oooh!  That's good.  I don't actually have to do this anymore!')

But of course, you DO have to deal with it eventually - rancid teeth or babies, you can't ignore them forever.  One way or another, they're coming out!

So when the euphoria of being back home died down and I realised that I still had a manky, rotten stump of an evil piece of nothingness living inside me (the tooth, not the baby!)  I knew I had to find a solution quickly.

Having been told by the 'Demon Dentist'  that there was a NINE MONTH waiting list to have the ****** removed at an NHS hospital, this was not an option!  Sheesh!  If I was young enough I could make and produce another baby during that time frame!

And so began the hunt for the 'Dream Dentist'.  Hours of Googling and panicking about what this whole nightmare was going to cost me, led me to ... (humour me here, I'm a romantic comedy writer!) my Knight in Shining Face-Mask.

From the moment I spoke to the lovely receptionist, Loretta, at Gentle Dental (now she's a lady who needs to feature in one of my books one day!) I knew I'd hit the jackpot.  Nothing was too much trouble, I wasn't a paranoid looney, I hadn't lost my marbles - I was simply a nervous patient with concerns and they were instantly dealt with.

Fast forward to the appointment with Dr Etienne after sleepless nights of imagining (at the very least) blood-shed, torture, agony, 'nee-naw'-ing ambulances and almost certain death (Drama queen? Moi?!).

From the minute I shook his hand, looked into his kind eyes and listened to his soft South African accent, I was a little bit in love.  The writer in me began scribbling notes - older love interest with a sense of humour, kind, calm, solid and dependable.

This was the man for the job!  There was no doubt in my mind.

And apart from the colly-wobbles (I'm famous for them! - think: whole body jiggles like a jelly and can't actually sit still, no matter how hard it tries!) all was well.  He ripped that ****** out in less than five minutes and did something no one has ever done before.

Yes, while under his spell, he gazed deep into my soul and explained why I shouldn't smoke for three days.  At this point I would have walked over hot coals, vowed never to have a saucy Richard Gere thought ever again or even renounced the odd glass of Pinot - and all I could do was nod, wide-eyed, and say, 'Ngggnginnggkkay' through a mouthful of cotton wads.

But, as he'd fulfilled his promise of a painless and hassle-free extraction, I kept my end of the bargain and didn't smoke.  It almost killed me (no irony intended!) but I did it.

AND ... my fear has gone.  I'm ready to start the journey to a beautiful mouth and I'm happy to become a regular visitor and undertake any procedures they throw at me.  I never would have thought I'd say that.

The Misfit is smiling!

I have not been paid to write this.  These are my thoughts and opinions on Gentle Dental, Putney, London.  If you're a local - go there!  You won't look back.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Sowing the Seeds of Love

England, we are led to believe, has four seasons - although sometimes it can feel like one long, wet, grey never-ending winter.  As my Aussie husband loves to say of our weather, 'Summer is my favourite day of the year!'

I'm a great fan of winter.  I love the dark, cosy nights, the rain, hail, snow and cloud. Yes, I really do!  But I do get to a point, when we change the clocks, that I start to yearn for a bit of sun, a cool breeze and long evenings enjoying our garden.  We have a very small, typical townhouse garden but we utilise the space well and take full advantage of it whenever we can.  Dinners seem longer, chat seems less distracted and life feels better during an alfresco meal or drink.

So yesterday when we found ourselves with an unseasonably warm day for London, we set to work on preparing the garden for our long-awaited summer.  Tubs were emptied, borders cleared, leaves swept, plants chopped and seeds planted.

As I dug my fingers into the earth, covering seeds and pulling out weeds, I could almost smell the approach of warmer days.  Oh, I know we have a lot more of the grey stuff to get through before we can have that first drink outside but ... it's coming!  It's on its way!

My garden looks a bit like an empty stage awaiting its actors at the moment but it's exciting and I love the thrill of watching new shoots pop up or new life pushing its way through the soil.

I then got to thinking how much tending a garden is like writing.  It all starts with that first seed.  You plant it and give it time, love and patience.  Lots and lots of patience!  As it grows you trim it, prune it and tame it.  Sometimes it gives you a scare and you think you may lose it but then it suddenly bounces back with a surprise.  Within time, that tiny dot of nothingness has a mind of its own with strong roots and it's ready to face the world.

The only difference is, I can choose when I want to plant in my garden.  Sadly (or maybe, happily) I can't with writing.  I wasn't looking for a new plot but the germ of an idea popped into my head yesterday and I think it's already settling itself in the soil of my brain and preparing to sprout.

Ah well!  At least I'll have a lovely scented garden to work in.  Now pass me that notebook and a box of fertiliser!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Chicklit? Predictable? Hell, yeah!

How do you like your eggs in the morning?
Fried, scrambled, boiled, poached?
There are so many ways.

How do you like your chicklit?
There is only one way.

Those who devour chicklit like to know what they're going to get - a light, frothy read that takes them on the heroine's journey until she has her man/kiss/ring/epiphany.

It's really very simple.  A chicklit reader will know (sometimes from Chapter One - and I have to say, in some books I've read, Page One) who the main character will end up walking into the sunset with but they want to know how she gets there.  They don't want plague, murders, famine and mass outbreaks of smallpox.  They want humour, trials, tribulations and tittilations until they reach that magic swoon.

Pick up any successful chicklit author's work and there will always be one thing that runs through them like a stick of rock - the happy ending that the readier nailed fairly early on in the read, laced with the thrill of wondering how it will happen.

If we took our reader on so many twists and turns with various men who our heroine might end up with and then threw in a curve ball at the end, we wouldn't be trusted and she'd be called a slut.

If we wrote the final chapter awash with misery and despair we shouldn't be writing chicklit.

People can be as snooty and snobby as they like but women love to cosy up with a read that will deliver - the Mansells and Kinsellas of this world are proof of that.

So to sum up ...

How do I like my eggs?

How do I like my chicklit?
Predictable - but with humour and surprises along the way.

Otherwise, I'd opt for Dostoyevsky.  Or a self help book.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

51 is the New 50!

So, last year I hit the big five-oh and hosted a party at our house for about 30 people.  Then we decided it was such fun, we might do the same for our 20th wedding anniversary.  Becoming 51 seemed the perfect excuse to have yet another bash and so, never one to do things by halves, out came the notebook and the lists were made.
We're a little short on photos as we were all having too much fun and forgot to take many but these are a few to give you an idea of our night.
The food we'd prepared and frozen over the preceding weeks was displayed on our Laura Ashley marble boards (a little budget tip for you - they're actually floor tiles!), the house looked like a party shop had exploded inside it, the gazebo was adorned and the teen was all set for DJ duty.

DJ son with friend Tchengiz

We made 60 pop-cakes.
Never again!  Delicious but time consuming.

Sadly, flu and various other aliments attacked some of our guests but the assembled group of about 25 certainly made up for it.  We had a sterling performance of  'Cabaret' from 'Fenella' and then we moved on to the teen's friend Tchengiz, who did a couple of his own songs and wowed his audience. We only have one video to share on here as it almost killed hubbie trying to get it from his phone and edit it for the blog.

To view, click here.

At my request Tchengiz also performed his Christmas song and I thought I'd post the original video here too:

I'm sure you'll agree that he's got quite a talent and will go far.  I wish him all the luck in the world - a lovely young man who shared many happy years with my son at school and I'm sure they will continue to keep in touch.

We were then entertained by my good friend @nurseyjo, who tap-danced to an Olly Murs number.  I'm so jealous and it made me even more determined to master those moves!

Then quite out of the blue, @nurseyjo's beautiful daughter did an impromptu performance of 'Bring it on Home to Me' with Tchengiz accompanying her on guitar - they had literally disappeared upstairs for only a few minutes and then *BAM* they were in to it.  If  Simon Cowell had been at my party he would have been rubbing his hands together with glee at the plethora of talent!  Thank you so much, guys!  I'd love to post the video here but I think the process of doing so would tip hubbie over the edge!

We danced, we laughed, we ate and we drank.  It was even warm enough for people to enjoy sitting outside in our 'Bedouin' tent - mad for February! A great night was had by all and I thank my guests for making it so special.

Being 51 is just fine!

Now ... shall I throw a summer party?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Cold-shouldering Cold-callers

I've chewed up and spat out not one but two cold callers this week.  I’m still not sure what they hope to gain from their scams and I also don’t know why they’re always Asian sounding gentlemen who go by the name of Mike, John, Robert or Dick.

Let me talk you through cold caller #1

MIKE:  (with very heavy accent)  Good morning Madam, I am calling regarding the car accident you had.

ME:  Car accident?

MIKE:  Yes Madam. You have had a road traffic accident?

ME:  Oh!  Yes!  Yes, the cow just came out of nowhere.

MIKE: (confused)  No, madam, not a cow.  A car.

ME:  Yes.  I hit a cow with my car.

MIKE: (in shock)  You hit a cow with your car?

ME:  (innocently) Isn’t that why you were ringing?  Doesn’t it show on your records?

MIKE:  (blatantly lying now) Oh yes, madam, but did you make an insurance claim?

ME:  No.  I didn’t think there was much point in suing a dead cow.

MIKE:  (very confused now)   Have you had any other accidents in the last five years?

ME:  (thinking)   Erm … oh wait … oh yes!  I hit another cow.

MIKE:  (incredulously)  You hit another cow?!

ME:  Yes.  I don’t like cows very much.

CUE husband doing a huge MOOOOOOO in the background and me shouting out:

CUE:  Mike hanging up as he realises he’s been taken for a ride.

Cold caller #2

ROB: (heavy accent again)   Good morning Madam I am calling from ***** *** ** Computer Services. We understand that you are currently experiencing difficulties with your PC and if you follow our instructions we will be able to solve your problems.

ME:  (sounding like a simpleton)  Oh yes, how clever of you.  I have been having problems.  Will you be able to help me?

ROB:  (obviously rubbing his hands together thinking he’s got a right Dumbo)  Yes, Madam.  Now you must follow my instructions very carefully.  Turn on your computer.

ME:  OK.  Erm … how should I do that?  Should I lick it maybe, or stroke it?  Maybe whisper some dirty words?  What do you think would work best?

ROB:  (clearly thinking he’s misheard)  No Madam, turn it on.

ME:  Yes, I heard you.  I asked which method I should use.  Licking?  Stroking?  Which?

ROB:  (realising that he’s being wound up)   You know what, Madam?  If your computer is playing up you should throw it out of the window.  Can you do that?

ME:  Well yes.  I did that this morning.  So does that mean I have to go outside to lick it now?  That’s jolly inconvenient you know.

ROB:  (really warming to it now)   Yes, Madam go outside and smash it up with your legs.

ME:  Oh, Rob!  How saucy! Are you thinking about my legs?  My thighs?

CUE:  Rob hanging up.

Ah yes, fun with cold callers.  My improv days at drama school were clearly not wasted.

You can see my other blog on this subject here.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Katie Hopkins ... Her Stupid Story

Regular followers may be slightly surprised by this post as I’d made a vow never to mention the vile Katie Hopkins ever again - I figured if people stopped giving her a platform she might simply shrivel up and disappear - but, after (foolishly) watching the farce entitled ‘My Fat Story’, I was so incensed by her arrogance and stupidity I felt the need to have another pop at her.

For those who haven’t seen the programme, Ms Hopkins (self declared fat hater) decided to educate the masses by gaining 3 stone in weight and then shifting it ASAP.  The phrase ‘eat less, move more’ was rammed down our throats as she rammed meal after meal, snack after snack down her own revolting throat.

Not only was this a ‘No-Sh*t- Sherlock’ approach to diet and exercise but it was also an incredibly naive experiment.  No great surprise there, given who we’re dealing with, but even the doctors who checked her out before her bingeing began said that it was unwise and that they didn’t recommend her going ahead.

But go ahead she did, determined to prove her points.

If you eat a lot and don’t move - you get fat.
When you stop eating and take up exercise - you lose weight.

Really?!  Oh, Ms Hopkins where would we be without your wisdom?

Now … here’s where I have the problem.  I am considered to be a ‘normal, healthy weight’.  I have no issues with food but I’m well aware that there are people who do, and to imply that it’s as simple as ABC to shift weight if you have an eating disorder is ignorant and small-minded.

Of course Ms Hopkins would have no problem going back to her old eating and exercising habits - it’s who she is and she’s clearly also someone with a naturally high metabolism.  Although, as the rugby players pointed out when they first saw her skeletal-bikini-clad bones, she could do with keeping on a few of those gained pounds.  Quite frankly, she looked like an under-nourished ten year old with an old lady’s head glued on top.

We are now all well aware that Ms Hopkins wouldn’t employ a fat person - a statement she’s incredibly proud of.  After learning more about her through this programme, how would she feel if someone told her they wouldn’t offer her employment because she’s epileptic?  Not nice, is it?

And now that we’ve been ‘enlightened’ on weight-loss, I wonder if she’d like to try bulimia or anorexia for a few months - and then oh-so-miraculously snap out of it.  Or how about alcoholism?  Or here’s a good one … pop your dressing gown on and sink into the depths of depression/panic attacks/anxiety and then show all the sufferers how simple it is to shed your gloom and start living again.

Because it’s really that simple, isn’t it Katie?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Because They're Worth It

I had a slightly surreal day yesterday.

Firstly I visited a friend’s elderly mother in the same hospital ward my Mum was in last year.  Bad memories came flooding back as I once again saw the good, the bad and the ugly of the NHS, the hideousness of growing old and the way some members of the caring profession choose to treat the elderly.

From there I took my mum to say goodbye to her hairdresser of forty-five years - the end of an era as she retires.

Picture this … a tiny, slightly tired and dated hair salon which caters to the blue rinse and curly perm brigade - to the ladies of a certain age who like to be coiffed to within an inch of their lives and then attacked with a full tin of hairspray to keep their set in place for the week ahead.  A place where equally tiny and tired great grandmothers go to have their morale boosted as they are made to feel glam again.

As I sat, sipping my dry sherry in a 1920’s glass, I witnessed another side of caring.  My mother’s hairdresser is 72, sprightly and finishing a job she clearly adored.  She treated every lady with the same love and compassion.  As did the lovely and incredibly camp 60 year old shampooist as he shimmied and sashayed his way around the rollers and the 1950’s driers, a camouflaged man bag strapped diagonally across his chest.

I watched them manoeuvre a client of approximately 110 (!) in her wheelchair to the sink and then to the mirror to set her approximately 3 (!) yellow hairs on her head as her orange make-up and clogged mascara dripped down her tiny bird-like face.  They joked with her as her husband (also 110!) sat beside her wearing his wife’s string of pearls around his grubby blazer to keep them safe.  She giggled at their banter like a little girl, her voice sounding like she’d sucked all the helium out of a Minnie Mouse balloon.  She was being made to feel important, fussed over and, in her eyes, she would leave that salon looking like Marilyn Monroe.

I could have sat and watched forever.  She was clearly once a young vibrant woman, attractive in her day, and I began to weave stories of her past life in my head.

But it was the joy of watching people who care so much about what they do and the people they do it for.

I left the salon feeling saddened that my mother has had to say goodbye to her weekly confidante, but buoyed by seeing people doing a job they truly love.

Getting old is a horrible thing but, if we’re fortunate enough, we all go through it.  The nursing staff who don’t do their jobs with love in their hearts would do well to remember that and to take a leaf out of my mother’s hairdresser’s book.  OK, wiping bottoms isn’t as glamorous as titivating someone’s hair but it was the job they chose.

Happy 2015 to all those who care - and to those who don’t, your time will come.