Susan Morrison: Gnashers to ashes

School dentists were strange souls. Picture: Getty

School dentists were strange souls. Picture: Getty

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There was a time when the state sent dentists round Scottish schools in strange white caravans that would suddenly materialise in the playground. In my memory, they emitted a faint sinister glow, like some sort of twisted Tardis.

You knew where the caravan was, because no bird sang and no child frolicked in that part of the playground. That corner was shunned.

The school dentist was a strange, lost soul, forever drifting from school to school. Why, we never even got to see his face, just his eyes, above his mask.

The oddest thing about our school dentist was the fact that he was genuinely dreadful at his job, and this was apparently admired by the adults.

Kids lurched back into classes glassy-eyed with the shock of having those sharp pointy things shoved into cavities, or clutching at blood-drenched paper towels where teeth had either been drilled to a depth where you could reasonably expect to find a couple of trapped Chilean miners, or even hoicked out.

The teachers would make approving noises about dealing with tooth decay and dental hygiene, when they were the self-same adults who proffered their nephews and nieces Scotland’s finest tooth-wrecking 
confections. Pear drop? Why not. Crack, there goes another molar.

Soor Plooms had – indeed, still have – enough weight, heft and resilience to be loaded into cannons at Trafalgar to destroy the entire French/Spanish fleet.

McCowan’s Highland Toffee? Now there was a substance that could meld with an entire filling and remove it with one chew. A penny toffee, complete with Hielan’ Coo on the wrapper, was just the right length to take out an entire row of ten-year-old molars. And along with its sticky stablemate, the Wham Bar, it could sneakily resist the most ardent toothbrushing at night to lurk corrosively against the enamel until the Tooth Fairy called. What chance did the teeth of Scotland’s children stand against the might of the hardboiled Scottish confectionary industry, I ask you?

The second odd thing about the whole rolling dentist programme was that you’d think that Scotland would boast teeth like American teen idols, given the attention being lavished on them by the band of homeless 
tooth-drillers.

And yet, as we know, that’s just not true. I suspect it’s to do with the fact that people of my generation were traumatised by the screaming of the drills, and the howling of the second year.

Is canal work still the root of all evil?

So, you will see why I am not looking forward to the trauma ahead. Apparently, I require root canal work. For ages I was under the impression this was some sort of American gimcrack nonsense.

They always seemed to be boasting this sort of thing in movies, along with fitting braces big enough to make their kids targets for scrap metal thieves. But it’s a real thing, and I need it. But, to be fair, dentists have changed now. They really do believe that pain relief is a Good Thing and that soothing music is a much better accompaniment to their work than sobbing children.

They still give you lectures about sweeties, though, and ask questions when you have your mouth full of metal stuff and drool running down your face.

Boy oh boy, is he not too old?

It’s an old joke, but it makes me smile – what would you call Postman Pat if he lost his job? Pat, of course.

So how come, now that he claims to be all grown up, do we still refer to Boy George. Shouldn’t he just be George?

Have a Mary old time at museum

Who fancies a night at the museum? Next Friday is the November Museum Lates Night. These are tremendous events – you get into the museum after dark, with no kids skidding along the floors screaming “look at me, mummy!” Yes, alright, I admit, my two were floor-sliding, fish-botherers on a wet Sunday as well.

Anyway, on November 8,

it’s just us grown-ups rampaging about the galleries. It’s a great send-off to the fantastic Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition, and this is a great last chance to see it.

And to join me and some very special guests to take a hard – and entertaining – look at Scotland’s most infamous double murder.

Who did kill Lord Darnley? Oh, and his poor wee servant as well, who always gets overlooked.

The doyen of Scottish history, Dr Jenny Wormald, will introduce you to the life and times of our regal femme fatale and her possibly murderous beau. Let’s not forget the firecracker James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, a man whose pint you did not want to spill.

Professor Sue Black, internationally famous forensic anthropologist, will examine possibly the first crime scene image, and then . . . well, you’ll have to be there to find out what happens next.

Now do hurry, the tickets are nearly sold out!