‘Visit colourful Berber villages, trek through the panoramic Atlas mountains sleep under the stars , climb the highest peak in North Africa’ .
I shut my eyes and am transported to Morocco. Neatly built terraces climb gracefully up into the hills. Dry stone walls enclose a patchwork of little green fields .The snow-capped mountains call me softly. The sun is shining and of course the sky is a deep azure blue. I hear the rustle and munching of cattle and the harrumph of the mule that will carry my luggage. All I need is a small day pack and water bottle. I am climbing up the path into the hills when a Tannoy announcement brings me back to reality with a bump.
“ Mrs Collins please go to room one “
Gosh I hate the dentist! Just the name DENTIST plummets me, a 55 year old grandmother of three cum part time assistant at a insurance company, back to a place of dark wood panelling and a wooden chair that creaked as it was cranked slowly backwards. I become an eight year old child, speechless with terror , as the ominous words “Open Wide” hail the start of the painful probing and tugging of the torture instruments . I always did “Open Wide” in dumb compliance because of my fear that the dentist might drill straight through my tongue if I refused.
Nowadays I keep as far away from the dentist as possible. I prefer to let nature take its course. Unfortunately a week ago a filling fell out of my right back molar, leaving a sharp jagged edge to the tooth
I tried to ignore the inevitable and for a few days managed to chew on the other side, but yesterday I made a fatal error.
I really should have stuck with something that slipped down easily like yoghurt, but a menopausal moment overtook me as I grabbed my lunch from the convenience store. Somehow the Philadelphia light cheese and breadsticks that I picked out of the refrigerated display turned into a crusty chicken and sweet corn wholemeal baguette by the time I got to the checkout. I was far to embarrassed to leave the queue and have the young man on the till laugh at me. So I was stuck with the chewy option .I ate my lunch at my desk rather than in the staffroom when Audrey, my work colleague, who sits at the desk opposite came back to collect something she had forgot.
She stared at me with curious amusement
“Carol what IS wrong with your mouth, you look like a hamster with your cheek all swollen up like that!
I did think for a moment that I could pretend I had lost all the feeling in my left side but realised that she would have me up to the emergency room in a jiffy presuming I had had a stroke so I had to admit to the lost filling. She immediately regaled me with stories of the awful complications that would result if lost filling was not dealt promptly. She was very descriptive about abscesses and root canal fillings and would not rest until I called the dentist for an appointment.
So this is why I am sitting in the waiting room on a wet, damp Wednesday in November at 3 30pm using a travel magazine to try and distract myself from thoughts of terror and instruments of torture and to settle my pounding heart by thinking myself far away in those green patchwork fields
But now it is my turn so I reluctantly put the magazine back on the table and make my way to room one. Of course the reality is nothing like my childhood nightmares. The room is bright and clean and the chair glides without a sound. There is no pain anymore due to the marvels of local anaesthetic and I can continue my dreams of the green fields of the High Atlas without pain intruding. It is over very quickly and I realise what a silly fool I have been.
As I walk back to the waiting room floods of grateful relief wash over me. In a moment of exuberance, I pick up the travel magazine and scribble the website details of the Over 50s adventure holidays. Why not ? It is about time I grew up and did something a bit different! Sleep under the stars, climb the highest mountain in North Africa. Why not indeed!
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