Wednesday, February 10, 2021


This is Dave:

Dave has a thing about serviceable clothing. The other night when we were watching an old Law and Order (one of the few telly progs that we both like) and this lapdancer was being interviewed

he said "That looks as if it shrugs off stains."

Dave also loves teeth. Here, below, is a post from his extinct blog, which tragically he cannot be persuaded to resurrect, so please don't even try.


Dentist tremens


I like teeth.

So sue me.

You will see this is serious if I tell you that watching The Dukes of Hazzard with my kids when they were little, it was her amazing teeth which were Catherine Bach's chief attraction for me. Maybe I should get out more.

My father had no teeth. He had had them all removed as a birthday present. Wow. That guy really knew how to party. 


My mum had no teeth either. No idea what happened to hers. 


She would not be seen out without her dentures, whereas he was seen only twice a year or so with his. They lived in the dark in the sock drawer for the rest of the time. And this was a good thing as they were rather too large, and made him look like a hamster in urgent need of Ritalin. Like all our clothes, they probably came as a job-lot from Blanchards. They must have had an offer on teeth.


Anyway, my father's ill-fitting teeth seemed to be dynamically alive in his mouth, and possibly trying to swap places. They tapped out messages in a kind of sotto voce morse, and he clearly felt enormously uncomfortable in them. They could have been plotting escape.

My grandfather had no teeth. It must have been genetic. He was forever collecting his teeth from the lost property department at the bus depot. They travelled more than he did. Coming home yet again, a quick rinse in Steradent and order was restored.

My grandmother had.... but you know by now. Apparently Hepworths have been dentally challenged since first coming gingerly down from the trees.

I, however, do have teeth. Hah ! And almost a full set. In spite of our family dentist. At the time, it never occurred to me that he was the reason for the toothless generations of Hepworths.

Like so many adults in my childhood, our dentist was one of my dad's wartime contacts. He (the dentist) had had a bad war and appeared to be hellbent on a mission to avenge himself through dentistry. His waiting room was crowded and faintly malodorous, but it was when he called you in that you got the full theatrical effect. His surgery was filled with smoke. Thick smoke. It was as if he had anaesthetised the last patient with a stun grenade. Or perhaps he had been burning something in the waste basket.

No, he was a smoker, and was single-handedly keeping my father's shop in profit. I never saw him without a cigarette dangling from his lower lip. He treated me with a cigarette dangling from his lower lip, and it waggled alarmingly when he talked. The smoke alone, the stench and the fog, made it like walking into the jaws of hell.

And that was just the start.

The dentist had been a bit shattered by the war, and he had very visible shakes. Seated in the chair, you could see this as he lurched towards you, cigarette waggling. After a cursory look around, he might need a probe, a scraper, a needle.... As his trembling hand came towards you, he would invariably bark out "Steady my hand, lad". I was quite eager to cooperate with this command, and would grab his wrist with both my hands, which would allow him to be steady enough to get into your mouth without incident. With a needle in his hand he was just this side of terrifying.

The dentist had two settings. Look around and declare everything fine, and extract. Hence the toothless Hepworths. In my teens I did lose two teeth unnecessarily to him, and that was the turning point, the sudden epiphany that this man was someone who hated teeth, and was on a private mission to eliminate them. By then "Steady my hand, lad" was a family catchphrase which would make us all laugh, most of us toothlessly. After the extractions I could not eat for a week, and it was obvious that while I was out for the count nobody had been guiding his hand.

In spite of his dental depredations I have always enjoyed dentists, and have been very lucky. The two teeth extracted as a lad led to a domino effect of collapsing teeth until I was rescued by a Leonardo of teeth, a tooth-artist so consummate that you almost expected him to sign his work, or maybe send off a few patients to hang in the Tate. He seemed incapable of anything less than brilliant. He did some gold bridgework for me which is as sound today as it was thirty years ago. It always draws gasps of admiration from current dentists, though these days they may be sizing me up for scrap value.


Now old "Steady my hand, lad" seems a zillion years away, and my modern (NHS) dentist has equipment that would have blown SMHL away.

Somehow I have escaped so far my parents' toothlessness, and may avoid it altogether, if I am spared.




Sally said...

Yours/Dave's blog is a great way to start the day! Hope you have a good one. Sally x

Anonymous said...

Laughed till I cried!! Wonderful writing. As a dentists daughter, albeit one who was drawn to teaching and researching preventive dentistry, I have a story of his home dentistry. He extracted my maternal grandmothers remaining teeth in our kitchen in the early 1950’s as a preparation for dentures. Nana was one stoic woman!! His affectionate name for her was “THe Colonel “


Sue Hepworth said...

That’s hilarious, Ana!
I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.

The cat lawyer video has made me laugh more in the last 24 hours than anything ever. My chest hurts from laughing at it.

Anonymous said...

Cat lawyer is brilliant. But I could not read excerpts from Dave’s post to my husband over breakfast because I was cry laughing so hard. He thought I was having a seizure! He reminded me that Australian dentists were apparently
very popular in Britain in fifties and sixties ( many from Sydney educated by my dear Dad ) 😂😂