Archive for September, 2005

Dental Denial

I went to the Mouth Butcher’s yesterday and had a rather long and decayed tooth removed. Partly a result of my dental history and experience with dentists, it was something I had put off for a long time.

The tooth broke on Wednesday. It broke because of my refusal to confront the consequences – pain, decay, toothlessness – of not going to the dentist. My last visit three years ago had ended in an extraction. For the last few months I had been eating using one side of my mouth, in a ludicrous half-hope that the tooth would magically repair itself, despite the splitting headaches that had come as a consequence of bits of pizza getting stuck inside it.

It was a state of denial – I can’t remember the last time I actually looked inside my mouth lest I would have to countenance scenes of decay and death.

The last time a tooth broke, I had medicated myself with clove oil, nurofen, whiskey and water for a few weeks before finally capitulating and arranging an emergency appointment. The time before that I had to have several teeth reset, without anaesthetic, after a late night incident involving a radiator. I was quite pleased with myself then, when within minutes of this tooth breaking, I had arranged an appointment for the following morning.

The dentist tapped, scraped and scratched a bit at the tooth, uncovering a deathly stench that had been concealed by the remnants of the filling. I was given the choice of extraction or paying 500 Euro for the root canal work and another 500 or so Euro for a crown. A grand seemed awful steep for one tooth, so I opted for the cheaper, more immediate punishment.

The removal of the tooth wasn’t too painful; the anaesthetic worked well and the dentist was as good as a dentist could get without not being a dentist. The problem for me was the psychic trauma that arose from imagining the scenes of destruction inside my mouth.

Perhaps the anaesthetic, combined with the fact that it’s been years since I looked inside my mouth, led me to lose all sense of scale. As I listened, eyes closed, to the sounds of Today FM playing that ‘string me up, stitch me up’ song, punctuated by the occasional crack and crunch from my mouth, my mind’s eye was filled with images of giant mysterious monuments uprooted in awful carnage.

It lasted three quarters of an hour.

“That sounded like an awkward tooth to remove”, I drooled.

“Yeah, it was a big dirty one alright”.

I avoided the mirror for a few hours after that, but such was the sensation in my mouth that I imagined I looked like Nelson from the Simpsons.

Wot no legerdemain?

The BBC Magazine posts some unusual foreign words. Funny enough I can’t think of any unusual foreign words, but plenty of unusual words from Roger Mellie’s Profanisaurus, a true marvel of the English Language.

‘Burbulence’ is my particular favourite, but it turns out, after a bit of googling, that the word exists in fact. Funnily enough, it seems to translate directly into Spanish: burbulencia. That is, I made excuses for my ‘burbulencia’, and people understood perfectly.

Storm of lies

I presume that this is true:

One month after the storm, however, it appears that few, if any, of the most lurid reports breathlessly repeated on American television, echoed in official statements and duly reported in many of the world’s newspapers, had any basis in fact.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar….

I see that pesky Luis Posada Carriles is still in the US. Have I already made the joke about the CIA giving him an exploding cigar? Perhaps they should try a pair of exploding Cuban heels.

Blogging Decommissioning

Following Gerry Adams’s remarks (I can’t find them – they were on TV) about a senior Unionist’s remarks about the IRA committing ‘Harry Carry’ (the Homewrecker?) on the lawns of Stormont, I wondered if there would be any value in committing weblog Harry Carry.

In other words, I am considering putting this weblog completely and verifiably beyond use. I might start another one, but with a bit more structure to its content.

Then again, I mightn’t bother my ass. But I’m blogging the thought anyway.

Decommissioning Jobs

I watched the De Chastelain press conference yesterday.

No doubt members of the press pack will tell you that their questions were rigorously inquisitive, given the day that was in it. Maybe, but I got the feeling that here was a group of people whose days of covering the big stories were ending, and this was reflected in the utter retentiveness of their questioning.

Next stop stories about controversial roundabouts and the ‘new Crazy Frog’, lads and lasses.

Colour Me Bad

I started this writing post yesterday:

Michael McDowell made his case for a bi-chromatic republicanism, and described his family’s historical involvement in republicanism.

Reading McDowell’s account of his own family, I find myself wondering if I really identify with a republican tradition at all.

That is, I have ancestors who were Irish Republicans in some shape or another, but I identify with their republicanism about as much as I identify with the trades at which they worked. And I find it rather hard to identify with linen bleachers and farm workers. So I’m wary of this whole idea of unbroken tradition, and an idea of ‘pure’ republicanism to which one can somehow return.

Then I came back to the post today and thought: do I really give a shit about this stuff any more? Who cares what Michael McDowell’s family did, or what his vision of republicanism is, or what Sinn Fein’s vision of republicanism is: it’s all a load of contrived crap anyhow.

When I read all this talk of two traditions – the green and the orange – it’s two-fingers-down-the-throat time. Most of the people I have come to know well since I moved here don’t belong to either tradition, nor do they want to. Probably because most of them are foreigners. I am convinced that the best way to live in Ireland is to choose to belong to neither of these ‘traditions’, which are, for the most part, extravagant fictions.

Still Ill

Sadly, my feverish ravings do not translate into good blogging material. I’m taking a few days out to convalesce and await inspiration.

A By-Paso for El Paso

The end of an era as travelling through Dundalk en route to Armagh finally comes to an end. Tonight I shall be having my first go on the new by-pass. I shall be timing myself, in case it still makes sense to go Ardee-Carrickmacross instead.

Any more of this rock and roll lifestyle and Front magazine will be running features on me.

UPDATE: The new by-pass offers a glimpse of another, seldom-seen side of Dundalk, that is, the other side. Not having to look at Atlantic Homecare and All Things Nice is, er, nice. Does it make journey time any shorter? Well, if your final destination is the roundabout at the end of the motorway, then the answer is an emphatic yes. Any further than that and you could be getting into diffs. The speedometer on the journey between the M1 and Newry never rose above 45mph, then it took 15 minutes to travel the length of the Newry bypass. Time of day (1730) probably didn’t help.

The Power and The Glory

Simon Jenkins is having fun at the Guardian. He has a go at the proposed legislation to deal with ‘glorification’ of terrorism. In a piece titled, rather conservatively, This is an act of censorship worthy of Joseph Goebbels he takes a rather dim view of the wording of the bill:

‘The wording recalls the remit of the old House Un-American Activities Committee
in Washington. It is born of Joe McCarthy out of 1066 and All That, with a dash
of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.’

And of the British government’s dubious ability to read history:

‘Are Hiroshima or Dresden to be listed events? If not, how can the no less
terrorist blitz be listed? Conrad was in this sense right: “The terrorist and
the policeman both come from the same basket.” I have no faith in Clarke’s
Stalinist historians. If Whitehall bureaucrats are so otherworldly as to find
village ponds, conker trees and rare steaks awash in human hazard, there is no
telling what they will find in the bloodstained pages of history.’

There is an old story about how when Elvis met Tom Jones, he proudly showed him his Drug Enforcement Agency badge that Richard Nixon had assigned him. The Voice managed to provoke the ire of The King by pointing out to him that his badge meant that he might have to arrest himself. Jenkins points out that ministers could find themselves in a similar situation under the new legislation:

‘Government lawyers may argue that states cannot be terrorists, yet those same
lawyers apply the phrase “state terrorism” to others. Besides, the bill offers
no defence of “good cause”. The Crown Prosecution Service must surely apply the
law impartially.’

And on the British government’s potential difficulties in defending itself:
‘The government’s defenders will argue of terror-bombing from the air that there are distinctions in targeting and collateral damage. But any self-respecting terrorist can find similar excuses for horror. At very least Downing Street is vulnerable to hypocrisy. Its crude attempt to stoke war fever in the winter of 2002/3 with briefings of “new smallpox/ricin/anthrax threat to London” was no less political. It was meant to frighten the public into supporting the rush to war. The effect was to disseminate the same fear as did the supposed terrorists. Bluntly, the government was doing the terrorists’ job for them. I cannot see how this puts ministers above their own law.’
Indeed.

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