Susan Morrison: Even teachers knew the drill when devil dentist visited

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It is fast approaching time when I shall have to take the son to the dentist.

He’s kicking off about it, which is weird, because our dentist is an absolute sweetheart. There’s an endless supply of stickers and badges for brave little boys, and once he even gave me a free toothbrush for being a big grown-up girl and not crying. I was 43 at the time, but everyone likes a pat on the back.

It’s a far cry from the monsters who used to trundle about Scottish schools in the 70s in those sinister white vans.

Our dentist was a strange, white-clad, masked madman, who would materialise in your playground like some sort of supervillain. The sound of the drill would permeate the school, and one by one we’d be seized by his assistant, a lady of magnificent proportions who had been issued with a series of sparkling white uniforms one size too small. She had shoes the size of Clyde tugs. We all remembered the shoes. It was the one thing we looked at as we were marched past the gym hall, towards the screaming of the drills.

Dennis MacIntosh claimed the ever-present mask was because the dentist had no face. He said it had been ripped off during the war. We had a template for this theory. One of the local doctors was a Japanese POW camp survivor, and persisted in diagnosing everyone with a variety of exotic illnesses such as beriberi and malaria, and we couldn’t see his face either, on account of the smoke he exhaled from his daily intake of 40 Embassy Regal. Dennis MacIntosh read a lot of Commando comics.

No-one escaped. You were in that chair, lights in your face, drill at the ready and the strange pink drink at your elbow before you knew what was happening. The grim child restrainer was standing by to assist, although, strangely, never to actually correct the dentist who always got your name wrong. My memories of the next few minutes remained buried for a long time until I saw Marathon Man, when I recall screaming in the cinema.

No stickers, badges or such mad luxuries as pain relief for us. If we were lucky, we’d stagger back into class and be allowed to just sit at the back hugging our aching faces against the radiator. Even Mr Maybury in Latin would leave us alone.

We’ll all deserve medals if taxi rank closes for Olympics

Events involving jumping very high, running very fast or hurling something very far don’t really do much for me. So, as far as I’m concerned, the Olympics are just a huge irritation.

And now they’re planning to move the taxi rank out of Waverley Station for “security reasons” during the Games. The taxi driver told me. I had just battled my way across the war zone that passes for a station with a suitcase roughly the same size as me.

If there is an Olympic event for temper tantrums, then believe me, I would have lifted the gold there and then.

Don’t blame us . . there was nothing wrong when she left

NEXT month in Belfast – a city that knows a thing or two about “security reasons” – there’s a concert to celebrate the RMS Titanic. Its centenary of her sinking.

Now, some folk have pointed out that we shouldn’t be using a word like “celebrate” when so many people died.

Well, yes, but it is fitting that Belfast reclaims her and her sisters. They were magnificent feats of engineering.

Ten years ago, I went to Belfast to make a documentary about her during a convention called Titanic – Bringing Her Home.

I asked the organiser: “Was it not a bit strange to honour a ship that basically sailed straight into an iceberg, and sank with 1517 people still aboard?”

“Ah well,” came the answer, “there was nothing wrong with her when she left.”

Wee man has a fit when tourists spit on the Heart of Midlothian

The young couple walking ahead of us on the High Street were Italian. They were suave, chic and sophisticated. So it was a bit of a shock when they suddenly turned and gobbed great splatters of phlegm on to the ground, well, the Heart of Midlothian . . .

A wee man next to us gave them a gentle “och dearie me” standard of telling off. “We don’t do that now,” he said. “It’s horrible.” However, the tourists battled back. But, they declared, Scots always do this. The wee man blew a gasket. Well, said the now angry wee man, he was a Rangers fan so the next time his team was in Rome, he’d sack it, since that’s what the Huns always did, if you want to stick to historic habits.

Leaving aside the obvious difficulties of Rangers currently affording a day trip to Rothesay never mind Rome, he did have a point. Can we call time on the spitting?