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Helen Brown: Visits to the dentist as rare as hen’s teeth

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Inever thought I’d think this, let alone hear myself say it, but I wish I could go to the dentist. I have holes in my teeth where fillings have made a bid for freedom that feel bigger than the Marianas Trench.

Emergency cases are, of course, being dealt with but I know many dentists of my acquaintance are both frustrated at not being able to offer the services they know are necessary, and extremely concerned about what they might find themselves having to deal with once they have got back behind the drill.

Personally, I have always been strict about teeth. I am firmly of the belief that you should do anything and if you can afford it, pay anything to keep your own gums firmly furnished with what nature meant to be there. I have seen the result of not doing so and it is not pretty, let alone cheap. Or even sanitary. Trust me, it is no fun poking about in the detritus of someone else’s existence trying to locate their missing plate.

As a result, I have redoubled my oral hygiene efforts in recent months, to the extent that I think I must be personally responsible for a leap in Colgate’s profits. I probably owe Pam Ayres a shedload of royalties for the number of times I have declaimed: “I wish I’d looked after me teeth!” in a cod rustic accent. Never have I so assiduously applied the interdental probe and I’m sloshing around so much mouthwash that I am allowing myself to believe that this process is solely responsible for the noticeable increase in my alcohol consumption and the incidences of feeling slightly pie-eyed in the morning. Aye, right…

Now, my less-than-cutely criss-crossing front teeth are looking rather like those fetching wooden contraptions allegedly sported by distant royalty, like Elizabeth I and her grandfather, the already somewhat visually challenged Henry VII.

I always thought it might have been a bit of a comfort to Richard III, looking down from above or up from below, depending on which historical viewpoint you take of his life and reign, that when his skeleton was discovered in that now-notorious Leicester car park, it may not have had much of a hump to speak of but was in possession of a full set of more or less decent teeth.

Let’s face it, Henry may have managed to grab one crown at the Battle of Bosworth but the rest of them obviously left much to be desired…

Meanwhile, I am trying not to read, or listen to, or view much of the news these days (in which task of course, being in Scotland, I am being partially assisted by the BBC). But even I have noticed the trumpeting of a new trade deal between Britain and Japan, our first as a “free”, “back in control” nation. It sounds positive, I have to say, even though Japan is the recipient of only 2% of British trade. But it’s a start, I suppose, even if the gist of it seems to consist of them sending us cars and us sending them cheese. Now, call me a naïve, sentimental fool – and I was not, I will freely admit, even before our little local difficulty, a frequenter of Wagamama or even the M&S sushi shelf – but I never thought the Japanese were that keen on the old fromage.

It strikes me that Stilton sashimi or a carefully coated Stinking Bishop tempura might be what anyone, no matter how steeped in fusion cookery, might term somewhat esoteric.

Reading between the lines, however, it appears that this triumphant trade deal commits the UK to stricter rules governing state aid to industry than are currently required by (and are apparently still being discussed with) our wicked stepmother, the EU. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, really, even if you are not a rampant remainer.

It seems to me, as a lay person who understands beggar all about anything any more, to undermine any negotiating position we might still be taking up with the neighbours from hell. Even if that position is one where our backs are visible heading out of the door, with two carefully-placed fingers left just far enough behind to make an impact as we depart.

I just wish, along the lines of what is being preached from certain political viewpoints these days, that clarity would begin at home.

Then people with their fingers on the pulse of who needs a bit of a leg-up and who doesn’t (thank you, Rishi Sunak), might start to aim a little more and better-focused, not to say consistent and creative, state aid at deserving areas of their own nation. Rather than sending it straight into the pockets of those who already have billions to play with.

Helen Brown is a former features writer at The Courier