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The tooth will out

I went back to the dentist on Wednesday, still feeling sore and ill. Don’t worry reader, I am not a gore bore – no horrid details will follow.

With one swift look my dentist decided to take the tooth out there and then. Eek! I said. I have never had any dental treatment other than scale and polish and seals, so it was scary. I am lucky to have a fantastic dentist who is also very nice, so he reassured me and swiftly gave me several injections. I went back into the waiting room where I sat nervously shaking. The lady sitting next to me also reassured me that he was a good dentist and it was all worthwhile. “I’d rather have my three bairns again than go through toothache,” she said. I often find advice from strangers oddly reassuring. In Glasgow strangers are often happy to chat and I’ve been given some rare thoughts at bus stops and in waiting rooms.

With my mouth gradually numbing I found myself thinking of Lea, recovering from DVT and a stroke. With my drooping mouth and lack of muscle control, I realised how helpless she must feel. I only had a tiny insight into what she was going through, but I felt ashamed for being so nervous over a temporary ailment. I was still shaking badly, though apparently the shaking is a result of the injections – made worse by my anxiety. I went back in – and it came out with one pull. I am embarrassed to admit I cried, then screamed – but my dentist assured me I squealed a second before the extraction. The thought of getting the tooth out is obviously worse than the process itself!

I felt rather odd for the rest of the day, I am not sure why – perhaps I was slightly shocked about the extraction, or the anaesthetic had left me giddy. A couple of people told me there is a form of cocaine in the injection – I have no idea if this is true. However, I do remember a story my sister told me many years ago….Suzanne was working for a community project interviewing drug addicts about their habits. For taking part in the interviews, the addicts would receive a can of Irn Bru and a Mars Bar. She met many interesting people and heard some amazing stories. One man told her about his experiences at the dentist. He went to get a sore tooth out. Afterwards, he went home and injected some heroin, getting the best hit of his life. He realised the anaesthetic combined with heroin was making him super-high. So, over the next year he kept returning to the dentist, getting teeth removed and going home to get his fix. During the interview with Suzanne, he took out his false teeth and opened his gummy mouth. “See?” he said, smiling.

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Blog goblins

I am so annoyed – I spent an hour writing a blog last night and it vanished. I went to publish and it was gone. I wonder where all the lost posts go? Do the blog goblins steal them away? I imagine a pile of words stacked up in some gloomy den, destined never to be read. Ah well, it means more writing later on today. I’ll try my best to find the lost words- my teeth have silenced me enough this week.

A Day in the Life

Here is Tuesday the 25th of May as nominated by Marceline.

9am Wake up drooling (thanks wisdom tooth) and in pain. Lee kisses my non-puffed up cheek goodbye. I get up and book an appointment with the dentist. I need to take an antibiotic, so cut up strawberries into bite size pieces and squeeze them into my mouth. They taste lovely but it’s an effort. I chat with Claire on MSN for a while, check my favourite blogs, read email and then log off.

10.30am Back to bed. Take laptop and go and cosy up to watch some TV on BBCiplayer. Sip on a lukewarm cup of herbal tea.

11.30am Write blog. Lie in bed until 2.30pm, resting and dozing. Then I go for a long needed shower. I strip the bedsheets and get them in the washing machine. Have a bowl of homemade soup (thanks Mum!) and a chocolate mousse – yummy but I have to shove it into my mouth. Take more antibiotics and painkillers.

4pm Chat to Fiona for five minutes, then to my Mum. Have to give up as it hurts to talk for long. I know, stop laughing!

5pm Hoover the house. It’s hard work, but I feel the need to get moving. I feel all happy and feng-shui about a clean house. Take washing out of machine. Watch some of a terrible TV show on TMF – Living on the Edge – it’s like a UK version of The Hills – basically a fake reality-documentary that follows rich teenagers. The problem is – they can’t manage all the Dawson’s Creek banter very well, so they fall back on big hair and set-up conversations. It’s quite astonishing that it’s called Living on the Edge – what are they on the edge of? Their tennis court? Their swimming pool? Aah, they live in Alderly Edge – it all makes sense now. How clever. I have no problem with wealthy kids or private schools, but get so annoyed with fake drama. Why don’t they do some kind of life swap docu-reality show where they swap for 2 weeks with teenagers from an impoverished area of Glasgow? Now that would be interesting….

5.45pm Lee rushes into house, grabs his football gear and runs out again.

6pm Baked potatoes go into oven.

6.15pm Something pops in my mouth. I have no idea what it is, but I gulp quickly and hope for the best. I realise there are still three wisdom teeth to come in and feel slightly sick…

7.20pm Lee arrives back from football. I arrange some cottage cheese, smoked salmon and chickpea dahl (all random mushy foods) to eat with the baked potatoes.

7.45pm Yum! Dinner.

8pm Play Animal Crossing on my DS. I am in love with this game. It’s all I ever dreamed of in a computer game – easy, relaxing and cute. The rest of my evening is spent playing the DS, relaxing and watching TV. I go to bed feeling very sick and put a towel on my pillow (comforting childhood habit) and a basin by my bed. I am not looking forward to the dentist.

All in all, a very dull and rather moany day. I am however, constantly reminded that things could be worse, afterall it’s just a tooth.

Word to the wise

Well, today I have a puffy cheek and a lot of pain….thank you wisdom tooth for arriving on Good Friday. Perhaps God’s way of reminding me Easter is not all about eating chocolate? I’m not religious in any way, but I have been saying wee non-religious prayers to request an easing of the ache. I managed to survive quite happily with a little bit of discomfort through the weekend.

Lee’s Mum and stepfather Bill held a family party at their house on Saturday night in honour of Lee’s 30th birthday -it was great fun! It was fantastic to get family and friends together. I think this was the first birthday Lee has celebrated with his father. But it was down to sad circumstances…Lee’s Dad has been in the UK for a few weeks. His wife had been visiting UK on business and collapsed on her arrival. She had DVT and three blood clots raced round her body. Two in her lungs and one in her brain. Sadly, she also suffered a stroke, so she was in intensive care up until last week. On a positive note, she is managing to speak, but it will be a long process before she will have a decent quality of life. It puts all aspects of illness into perspective.

We spent Saturday night eating (on one side of my mouth!), drinking and letting Lee’s younger sister Ashley take pouty photos of us for her Bebo page. Pouting is an art form which must be practised. I’m afraid my lips are just not meaty enough for mega pouts.

Sunday was spent eating soup – (by this point the pain was building up) and driving back to Glasgow where I lay on the sofa. I visited the dental hospital on Easter Monday for an emergency appointment. The dentist was lovely as he thought I was “17, 18?”. On examination he loudly exclaimed, “Oh my God, oh dear!” when he saw my tooth. It was nice to get reassurance that my moaning was justified. I’ve got a large abscess and an ulcer and a wisdom tooth with no space, all fighting in the one spot. So it was a large dose of antibiotics, painkillers and mouthwash for me, along with a trip to M&S food for some mushy foods. I have been eating baby size spoons of mousse, strawberries, macaroni cheese and smoothies. Back home, Lee made me a childhood favourite – egg in a cup. Yes, it’s that fancy…just soft boiled egg mixed with butter, in a cup. It is  soothing and warms the heart when I feel ill.

It’s rather tempting to look up medical ailments on wikipedia when one is ill. I learnt-“In Thailand the wisdom tooth is described fan-khut (ฟันคุด) “huddling tooth” due to its shortage of place.” Wonderful imagery; as wisdom teeth don’t appear like a bolt of sensibility – more like a gnawing inconvenience. The Thai definition is far more accurate – as I huddle up on the sofa and wait for my puffed up cheek to subside. I hope that tomorrow I am talking less like the Godfather and more like myself.

Come back tomorrow for the latest Day in the Life blog, as chosen by Marceline.

18-30

It was Lee’s 30th birthday yesterday. I cannot believe he has left his twenties behind! Over the last week I’ve been thinking a lot about the past; how we first met, what we used to do, who we used to hang out with. It’s amazing the memories that pop up: teenage walks in the park, fancy dress parties, nights at the local social club and those awkward moments where you are learning to co-exist with another person. I feel a great comfort knowing someone so well, and we’ve shared some hilarious times together. I’ve known Lee since he was 18 and I teased him that this is the last year he can go on an 18-30 holiday. I think he is missing out on a good time. Maybe….

I baked Lee a birthday cake. It turned out spectacularly bad – sunken and a bit salty tasting. I rushed to bake a lemon sponge – by this point Lee arrived home. It was un-iced and still cooling but he didn’t mind. It’s the thought that counts. So we shared a bottle of champagne (though I’m sure I drank more than he did, I certainly felt it this morning) and a stunning dinner, cooked by the birthday boy himself – fresh mussels in white wine and onion sauce, fried halloumi, smoked salmon and salad. Note the small salt and pepper grinders – they are magnetic and look like wee rabbits! How cool. A birthday treat for Lee, a salt and pepper-a-holic.

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I am starting to realise how much I now blog about food. (Note to self: indulge in other hobbies than just eating. )

After lots of food and drink I found a stylish use for a champagne top – a sovereign ring! Perhaps we are not so grown-up after-all.
ring

This month I’ve been having the strangest and most vivid dreams – last night was a treat…I dreamt I had my teeth whitened. It started with me looking into one of those mirrors you find in theatre dressing rooms, surrounded by beaming lightbulbs. A crowd of my friends and family stood over my shoulder ready for my first smile…and BAM – I smile, my teeth blindingly white, brighter than bright, like some Hollywood doll. Everyone oooohed. Yet I found the effect of smiling or even opening my mouth lead to beams of light streaming from my face. It was un-nerving to say the least. It was like being Tom Cruise, leading the Scientologists, all in awe of my perfect smile. One person commented, “They are so much better than Colleen McLaughlin’s teeth” as if it were proof of my superiority. How random; I wonder what you dreamed about last night reader? I’m tagging anyone that reads this blog to write a blog on ‘What I dreamt about last night’. Just let me know by commenting so I can be nosey!

In a final note, here’s a photo just for Claire, who has been harassing me for blog posts (I’m so glad, it keeps the momentum going!). Her love for sock monkeys knows no bounds, so here’s a towel monkey as found by my parents on a cruise to the Far East.
towel monkey
He was hanging in their room one night.
My father felt something bump into his head and looked up to find this cheeky fiend. What a work of art. I can barely tie a sarong, let alone make a towel animal. At least I know my limits. I wonder if I’d find a towel monkey on an 18-30 holiday?

Snail’s pace

Yesterday I went to Chinatown restaurant with my friends Yeeman, Denis and Aleona. It was my first time experiencing real Chinese food, not the Western versions and with Yeeman to help us choose, we got the best selection of dim sum. We ate dumplings with prawn and chives, beancurd and prawns, sticky rice with pork and two noodle dishes; one with seafood and the other with pork and green beans. The flavours were fantastic. Unlike takeaway food, these dishes were light and fresh – steamed and grilled to perfection.

Denis recently worked in Japan for six months and having sampled some of the most daring sushi (pig brain and monkey brain amongst them – apparently yummy) he was keen to try some more unusual dishes. So Yeeman also ordered satay snails and chickens feet. I was surprised by the feet – they tasted like chicken wings, less meaty but full of flavour. I would be lying if I said I was not a little nervous about eating the snails, I think the image of one moving along the ground can be off-putting. But I gave it a go. I had expected it to have a texture like mussels – but I found it similar to octopus – though slightly more chewy. The sauce was great and I was surprised that I enjoyed the taste.

Throughout the meal we drank tea in little cups. Yeeman was in charge of re-filling our cups and added more tea after nearly every sip. This means our cup is never half-full; a nice sentiment and a constant feeling of being looked after. Yeeman showed us the traditional way of thanking the server; set three fingers on the table and tap the middle finger. This comes from a traditional tale of a King who served tea to his guards – the guards couldn’t bow to the King, so they tapped their fingers instead. The middle finger is bowing to the server. It’s a gesture that stops a constant “thank you” being said. (Please feel free to correct me if I’ve got this custom wrong – I’m still learning!)

I always enjoy meeting up with this crowd. Denis and Aleona come from Russia, and enjoy travelling, so they always have great stories, often involving food – my favourite subject. Yeeman is visiting Hong Kong soon, so I look forward to hearing her culinary adventures. And whilst I’m on the subject of world cuisine, my friend Claire recently moved to Bankok for a six month stay (missing you Claire!) and I have made it clear I want plenty of photos of her stay, especially the food…..

It was a relaxing lunch after a tiring week. There has been plenty of drama and stresses this month, with some sad family news. But along with the sad, there have been happy moments; so I’ve been taking my time, plodding along slowly. Life is good when you are with friends, being reminded that life is full of beautiful gestures.

Sweet

pacman

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Whilst the rain battered down on Glasgow, I spent Friday afternoon baking. I’ve had a low month so it was comforting to have a small goal to work towards. The task was a random cake commission for a 40th birthday – a pair of old-skool classics: Pacman and Ghostie. I used the classic sponge recipe and made a lemon cake for the Pacman and a chocolate cake for the Ghostie.

Cake mix

Cream 6oz of butter with 6oz of castor sugar. Blend in 6oz self raising flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 3 beaten eggs. Spoon mixture between two 8inch cake tins.

Lemon cake – add grated rind of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Chocolate cake – add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon warm water.

Bake at gas mark 3 for 25 minutes. It’s ready when springy.

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House artist Lee helped me to carve and ice the cakes. I used lemon butter icing (yum!) for the inside of the Pacman cake: beat together 8oz icing sugar, 4oz butter and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. I sandwiched the two cakes together with the lemon butter icing and a layer of jam. To the butter icing I added some yellow food colouring and blended well. (Had to make extra icing to cover the cake) Lee cut the Pacman mouth and iced the cake. A chocolate button was used for his cheeky eye.

For the Ghostie cake, I made chocolate butter icing: blend together 8oz icing sugar, 4oz butter and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Add some warm water if the mix is too stiff. This icing sandwiched the cakes together along with a thin layer of jam. Lee carefully cut the Ghostie shape. He iced the top with plain butter icing with added blue food colouring. I love Ghostie’s eyes – marshmallows and chocolate buttons give him a cool look.

I am rather proud of these guys. They were fun to make and reminded me of those wet afternoons stuck indoors playing the ZX Spectrum or an Atari. I wonder if today I’d have the patience to sit and wait for a game to load while the screen flickers and the sound ‘bing bongs’?

I once read an interesting pop-psychology piece that examined the use of retro in adult culture. It suggested our love of retro comes from a need to find a piece of stability in an ever-changing, seemingly violent world. Retro objects and art gives us a reminder of the past – a safe, happy time, free from modern pressures. I’m sure that every generation feels that fear of the world – that mankind is on the edge of meltdown between wars and moral chaos. It’s been felt as far back as the Romans. Once in a uni class we read excerpts from diaries where Romans bemoan the decline of moral order amidst violence and littering. 

Retro has been around for longer than the 1980s. During the 18th and 19th century, ancient Greek and Roman culture became an inspiration for art, architecture, fashion and literature. OK, it’s vague to compare 1980s retro and 1890s classical antiquity, but it shows looking to the past gives us imagery to influence our current styles. Retro reminds us how far we’ve come; from playing Pong in our bedrooms where we dreamed of a future with limitless technology, to a world in which these dreams are coming true. I love retro – the past is full of design classics that deserve a place in the future.