This week Susan faces the dentist’s drill and observes some Olympian sell-outs…
What sort of a person becomes a dentist? I was pondering on this, whilst my hands gripped tighter and tighter around the arms of the dentist’s chair (the only other time I do this is when a plane takes off).
Mine’s a gruff northerner with a no-nonsense approach that some would classify as positively brutal. I much prefer him to my previous Chinese dentist, who was constantly asking me if I was okay – “am I hurting you,” “can you feel that,” “let me know if you want me to stop,” and so on. I’d rather bear the momentary pain of the drill than suffer a face-numbing injection and spend the rest of the day drooling from the corner of my mouth. The Chinese chap replaced wonderful Mr Weir, my favourite dentist of all time. Weir wore white clogs, was curiously camp, and spoke with a lilting Scottish accent – not unlike Stanley Baxter’s.
I actually count a couple of dentists among my friends. One is a cat loving ‘celebrity dentist’, who once appeared in an episode of Mr Bean. The other enjoys shooting defenseless birds in his spare time. Though, of course, modern dentistry is all clinical and computerized. It’s not at all like dentistry of my youth, which was more gas masks and spattered blood. On one occasion, when a couple of teeth were removed, I suffered nightmarish hallucinations – the dental nurse became a witch, and the dentist a clown. I must have screamed an awful lot, because my mother bought me a Barbie Doll on the way home…
Visiting the Design Museum’s latest exhibition made me wonder about contemporary design. Has everything already been created – the doll, the toothbrush, the chair, the wheel and the phone? Are there any totally new designs? And will future inventions continue to be pretty useless – by that I mean not really adding any functional significance. Do we need a device (like the ‘pop phone’ by Native Union, pictured above) that turns our mobile into a retro looking, analogue-style phone? Do we need a nail varnish vending machine?
Everywhere I went last week Louis Smith’s face stared out at me from giant posters. He towers above the Wandsworth roundabout and envelopes the IMAX cinema. Are these locations above a subway – or perhaps near a Subway – a place Where Winners Eat? Is this the branding designed to inspire a generation? (A generation of lard-arses perhaps?) My local branch boasts a smashed window with an eviction notice and bailiffs’ details posted on the door. However, Tom Daley’s poolside posing pouch seems to still be pulling in the crowds. Thank goodness Jessica Ennis hasn’t sold her soul to the fast food eating, celebrity worshipping masses – at least we still have a female role model.