I’m checked in by the hasty ‘no time to smile’ receptionist.
“We’re still at lunch, there’s the waiting room, it won’t be long…”
Twenty minutes after the appointed time the new Hygienist appears;
“We met at the door didn’t we ?” she says, wiping crumbs from her chin and ushering me into her room; the locum nurse, a big, flapping girl, galumphs across to the computer.
“Can’t turn it on – oh yes here it is…” she giggles.
“Where’s Ruth?” I ask anxiously, really wishing her here instead.
” Funeral I think,” comes the flat reply.
“Oh, date of birth? Ooops, nearly forgot – Just checking. Yes they’re all there, upper, lower… Oh no, sorry, start again…”
My confidence had just gone running out the door; This is not a comforting experience, but by now they’re leaning in to the task, chatting and giggling about their domestic goings on all the while.
” I missed my lunch,” said the nurse. “All I had was two slices of bread – forgot the tin of beans ! My kids distracted me…”
“You’ll maybe lose a bit of weight then?”
“Oh I wish! ”
” Are you electric or manual?” inquires the hygienist. “I brought a brioche and an egg for the microwave… You’ve got some evidence of gum disease here – pocketing at the back… Shame I had to rush it though; I usually I get something from Lidl, they’re really good.”
“Yes, me too. When I was working in Oxford, the chef there always recommended their wines and the meat.”
” I like their cheese selection too, but the veg go off quickly so you’re best to avoid those… Open wide and I’ll have a tickle round with the polish… Right, all done then.”
She looks down at me as if she’s seeing me for the first time, while I’m deciding this is definitely the last as I leave the clowns to their gossip.