Monday, 22 March 2010

Life extraction

About four years ago I had some major root canal work done on (under?) one of my back teeth. Bear with me, I’m going to try and make this interesting. It was when my baby boys were teeny, and having some time to myself – albeit in a dentist’s chair with a high level of anxiety, and some – was actually pretty intoxicating, and the fact that it took six visits to finish the job seemed well worth the dollar and the pain.

Anyway, the bad news was that it was never truly a finished job, and it’s taken a course of serious antibiotics every six months ever since to keep things under the intrusive-pain threshold. But now the dentist will take it no longer, and has given me an ultimatum: extraction or he closes the pharmacy.

However, despite the fact that I’m now facing a 90-minute dentist appointment in less than a fortnight, I’m suddenly really looking forward to an end to the constant fuggy achey hungover feeling that I now realise the infection has inflicted on me for far too long. And it’s also occurred to me that a lack of these constant feelings might significantly alter my behaviour? How many of my personality traits are infection-fugg induced? How long is my fuse? How much nicer is the real me?

And what if this whole improvement-though-extraction exercise works in other areas of life, not just aural enhancement. I sacked my cleaner this week after weeks of irritation about the fact that I was paying her to do very little for far fewer hours than she was billing. (I know it’s a minefield to mention I have a cleaner after witnessing the storm of anti-staff protest Tim Dowling received by admitting he employed someone to hoover his floors. I don’t have quite as many readers as his Guardian column though, so by the laws of proportional representation, the worst that can happen is that one of you might be feeling a twitch of irritation in the tip of your little finger. Bummer if it’s you. What’s the chances!)

Anyway, life is definitely better for having extracted the cleaner. So what’s next? Are there other things that need to go? Other people…? I’ll get back to that one when I’m feeling braver.

But how about an extraction of expectation? I generally hold a fairly high level of it with regards to both me and the world, and hence live with the persistant low-level pain of disappointment. However, on Friday I sat happily though an evening that, on paper, should come in way under expectations: the school quiz night. My team contained an unfeasibly large number of broadsheet journos, who knew pretty much everything (in fact, everything) while I have to be honest and admit to genuinely knowing almost nothing. And, thanks to the final dose of anti-biotics generously prescribed by my dentist, there was no alcohol in my glass to disguise my almost complete lack of knowledge.

But I had a great evening. Turns out some of my closest friends also know nothing, and sparkling grape juice isn’t so bad if combine it with your body weight in gherkins. And I was the one who recognised the theme to ET when everyone else thought it was Star Wars. You can’t extract a wasted youth.