One a Day
I'm no longer sure if it's a feature of lockdown or of retirement, but, whereas I spent a working life juggling office and family commitments, suddenly one appointment a day seems to fill the diary. Actually having anything in the diary during lockdown is a highlight in itself, of course, but when you were always accustomed to fitting a visit to the dentist in and around office hours it is vaguely disheartening to realise that it might be all you achieve in daylight hours at the moment.
To be honest I've been on a bit of a roll following the trip out to Leyburn on Saturday for that first dose of vaccine. We were strangely fatigued on Sunday, a not uncommon side-effect apparently, but Monday morning saw me out on the road bright and early. I'd booked the car in for its annual service and got it there just as the garage was opening its doors for business. I decided to wear an FP2 mask for the occasion but it did make communicating with the receptionist a trifle difficult when she struggled to hear my muffled voice through her plastic screen.
Leaving the car behind, I then proceeded to walk the full length of the town from garage to my mother's home even calling into a shop on the way. It was the first time I'd been in one since the week before Christmas. I've obviously been out of circulation a little too long because it was almost wondrous walking up and down a couple of aisles in my quest for bicarbonate of soda. Even seeing 2 metre spacing lines as you approach the till was a novelty, not to mention making payment itself.
I had to repeat the walk in the opposite direction later in the afternoon, noting that one shop had closed quickly. There was an apology in the window and the briefest of explanations, but clearly the local High Street is not out of the woods yet. I felt seriously chastened and hurried on to collect the car and a substantial bill.
Thank goodness, there now seems to be a school of thought that transmission of this darned virus may be less susceptible to touch than first thought, for how on earth was I to know where it might have been deposited in the vehicle? As for those droplets hanging in unventilated spaces; had they serviced it with doors open, or did I now need to drive along with the windows down, breathing in the cold, damp air? One appointment a day and I can't even develop a strategy for it beforehand!
Today had to be better. I'd booked a dental appointment for mid-February naively believing that lockdown would have brought the virus under control in the neighbouring town I haven't visited since the summer. I'd dressed assuming it would be warm inside but, arriving outside, could see all the casement windows were wide open; plenty of ventilation in there I thought, as I shivered on the pavement, fully masked and queuing at 2 metre intervals waiting to be called.
Inside there was the inevitable question and answer protocol, hand-sanitisation and then a request not to touch the banister as I was led to an upstairs treatment room. If I had any strategy at all it was to ensure that the dentist and assistant were of no risk to me. However, meeting them fully gowned and masked with plastic aprons on top, all I could think, as I lay back horizontally in that chair with my own face mask across my chest, was that I was clearly regarded as the dangerous object in the room. Inspected and probed by masked aliens in visors; bright lights above and the whirring of that saliva suction device; you let your tongue relax and just give yourself up to it.
I did feel cheated, no pink antiseptic liquid (nor even water) to rinse out my mouth. What a strange world when that constant from decades of dentist visits is missing. The charge had increased too (presumably all the cleaning taking place between patients not to mention PPE far outweighs the cost of the mouthwash) but it was still only a fraction of the amount I paid the day before for replacing disk pads and windscreen wipers.
Is it perverse to wonder what the procedure (and cost) would be if I had to go to a garage for my dental check-up and take the car to the dentist for an MOT? Probably not perverse so much as indicative of the fact that if I have time to exercise the grey matter by dreaming, I have time to undertake a multitude of other activities. Thank goodness tomorrow's diary entry is by Zoom.
The truth is I am now truly the living embodiment of Parkinson's law where my appointments will expand to fill the time available, if I let them. If I'm not careful I might even forget how to juggle next!