Obviously the shaving mirror is the most immediate and unforgiving sign of bodily decay, but the six monthly trips to the dentist add to the escalating feeling my best days are behind me.
Still, I console myself as I hurry through the park - most of the drunks and vagrants still swathed in grubby blankets or back copies of the few broadsheets still to go tabloid - at least the Polish lady dentist and I have come to a laboured understanding. Her English isn’t great, and my natural salesman’s verbosity is somewhat curbed by a tubular cotton insert and a suction pump, so she tends not to ask me about the property market any more.
‘You can go and sit outside the surgery.’ Announces the receptionist once I’ve coughed my name but not my profession. She’s a bored looking woman in her fifties. Not a single male to be seen since my old dentist cashed-up and headed for a sunny retirement home. The future is female.
I fiddle with my tie as I wait to be called, dog-eared local magazines ignored after last time when I spotted one of our long defunct property adverts in there. The house is still unsold as far as I’m aware. It’s not ideal lying in a dentist chair prior to office start time, as your jacket ends up as creased as your face, but it still rankles when staff slope-off for an appointment mid-working day when I manage to attend mine on my own time.
‘Hello.’ Says a pretty young blonde girl in starched white uniform, as she exits the surgery carrying a clipboard. The accent is eastern European of course and I realise my dentist is employing- literally – a bit of nationalistic nepotism. Still, she looks quite hot for a dental nurse so I can run with that.
I manage to avoid the gaze of the only other patient waiting, as they look vaguely familiar. He’s a scruffy looking oik in grubby jeans and scuffed trainers and for a moment I wonder if I’ve reposed his flat at some stage. Fortunately another fragrant looking assistant pops her auburn-haired head around the door and calls my name whilst beckoning me in suggestively. The ruffian scowls at me as I pass, possibly in recognition, or perhaps it’s just the default animosity reserved for a businessman in a suit, who on the face of it is doing better than him. How wrong can you be?
As I nod but decide not to smile too overtly at the horny dark-haired girl, the door opens and the nubile blonde returns and invites me into the chair. God, it’s turning into some sort of dodgy late-seventies porn shoot. I just hope I’m not lying there sporting an unwelcome erection by the time my sour-faced, but not remotely sensual, dentist arrives.
‘How are you?’ Asks the blonde donning a mask and bending down. She then gives me an unpronounceable name before announcing. ‘And I shall be you dentist today.’
Shit. Firstly, she’s not old enough to have finished college and secondly if she’s only going to be a dentist today, what the f**k does she do every other day? Trying not to appear judgemental of someone who is about to shove surgical instruments in you mouth, I ask where my normal scale-and-polish Pole is?
Maternity leave? I think woodenly as the steel starts prodding and I gaze semi-hypnotised into a Daray dental light. I mean it’s something every employer has to take into account – without letting the candidate know of course – when they recruit women of childbearing age, but I have this unhelpful internal dialogue running about who was desperate enough to drill the now-pregnant Polish woman. They certainly didn’t have a light on, as bright as the one I’m squinting into.
‘You grind your teeth don’t you? Announces blondie before asking what I do for a living. Then the pain starts.