The Beast of Buckingham Palace.  A new book courtesy of David Walliams.  They say timing is everything …

So that was the week that was and, if I ever questioned my dwindling youth, I am certainly in no doubt now!  Firstly, the visit to the hygienist followed by that to the dentist.  Oh, joy/boy!  Thing is, the only constant is the lovely dental nurse, Tricia.  As though a Time Lord, aka Doctor Who, each dentist morphs into another on successive visits.  Come to think of it, the same can be said of the hygienist!  I have drawn my own conclusions but, suffice to say, it is not great for continuity of care.  Growing up, we had the same dentist throughout and the same family doctor.  The fact that the dentist spent his time taking our teeth out after, randomly, knocking us out with gas is neither here nor there.  Obviously no anaesthetist, in hindsight, it does make me question my parents!  Then there was the family doctor – also, friend – who shared the school run.  Always late, and frequently smelling of alcohol at 8am, he would drive at a rate of knots along the country roads, happy as larry, as we were thrown about in the backseat not a seatbelt in sight.  I repeat, my parents were lucky the three of us made it to puberty!

The point is that with each new dentist comes a different approach and, on Tuesday, the latest decided that the progressive chipping of my teeth could be curtailed with braces.  Seriously?  At this stage!  Do I look affluent?  More to the point, do I look stupid?! So, my teeth may be crumbling but they still serve their purpose and I am not, yet, resigned to a diet of soup.  A little whitening would not go amiss but …  For all their flaws, they are my teeth and I think, today, people underestimate how important that is.  One’s teeth, like one’s eyes or one’s nose, are totally individual; part of one’s character; part of what makes one different.  Different?  God forbid!  Crown them, whiten them, give me braces, implants, straighten them just make me look like everybody else …  Dentistry and cosmetic surgery have become, in many ways, one and the same.  Yes, it is imperative that one’s teeth are kept healthy but, always a lucrative profession, dentistry has identified a new niche in this shallow world and, therein, lie the big bucks.  Once again, I smile (an Osmonds’ smile – humour me!) as I think of my parents and our formative years.  There were no electric toothbrushes, nobody flossed that I knew of and as for the obligatory visit to the hygienist …  Funny, though, we all survived and I don’t remember any glasses by the side of the bed.

So, resigned to crumbling teeth in the morning, I, then, met my longtime friend, Struthie!  Well, he just says it as it is and, on the subject of houses and mortgages, in his inimitable jovial style, he reminded me that I have no hope.  According to him, not only am I unemployable but I am too old to boot – no, that’s ‘to boot’ not ‘an old boot! Now, why don’t we just add to that my erststwhile advocate’s personal annihilation in her reference to me as ‘a woman in her fifties with no skills’ and job done.  Get me the phone!

No need.  Water off a duck’s back, as my mother used to say.  What is it about me, however, that enables – nay, encourages – such ‘honesty’ albeit, in Struthie’s case, delivered in fun?  I remember, light years ago, asking a wonderfully sarcastic friend why it was that he had teased me from the get-go?  His reply?  “It’s your face!”  Excellent.  I have never forgotten that but continue to be grateful for the inherent humour which, seemingly, exudes from said face, an indication of that ‘little spark of madness’ without which – I agree with Robin Williams – I would be nothing!

Ah, the power of humour.  Never underestimate it.  For my part, it is fundamental; the spark which ignites my bones …  Sound familiar?  Probably, my least favourite line in a Coldplay song, Fix You, it is, after all, rather evocative.

Some things in this life, however, cannot claim humour as an excuse and the advert for the Tesco Plus card is one of them.  Incensed every time it appears on the screen, I cannot believe anyone could sink Casablanca to such depths?  Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, one of the all-time classics, defiled for a dollar!  Well, The Wizard of Oz has already been sold to the Halifax Building Society so it’s only a matter of time before It’s a Wonderful Life becomes synonymous with … Asda?  Andrex?  Condoms?!  In a world devoid of values and respect, anything is possible.

Only yesterday, I was outside Toppings in St Andrews.  An old-fashioned, independent bookshop and haven for those with a love of words – and escapism on a budget!  Ahead of me were three workmen in their yellow tabards and I couldn’t help but overhear the comments of one: “They like reading here.  I can’t even read!  See these wee ipads?  I used one of them at school … “.  At least he was too old to have had an ipad holder on the side of his potty!  Once again, responsible for our own downfall.  Mankind.  The superior race.  According to whom?

Last Christmas.  That song will live forever.  Poignant on so many levels, the film of the same name came out this week.  Not sure I want to see it.  The video, etched in my memory, could not have lent itself, more perfectly, to a backstory and I, for one, would love to have learnt the history of that brooch!  By all accounts, however, the film pays no heed to the video focusing, rather, on the homeless.  As for the pretty dark-haired girl – the love interest of both George and Andrew who must have been in her early twenties in 1984 – she can be seen, from time-to-time, modelling in the fashion slots on This Morning!  Thirty-five years on, I wouldn’t have recognised her.  Another lifetime.

Before I sign off, I have to mention I’m a Celebrity and Ant & Dec.  Who dresses them?  Honestly, it never ceases to amaze me.  Almost always in black and navy, it is the little – well, they are little – jackets they wear night after night.  Jeans with turn-ups to highlight their short legs and those jackets buttoned up to the neck.  Are they moonlighting as janitors?!  What would be wrong with a nice linen shirt, a polo shirt or just a smidgeon of colour?  I suppose we should just be thankful that we don’t have to suffer Holly and that leg this year …  You know, her Angelina Jolie pose?  No?  Just me, then.

Can’t believe I’m about to sign off without reference to the main focus of news coverage this week.  Might I say, though, that I can’t ever recall seeing a photograph of Prince Andrew on a horse before …

‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’

Man’s Search for Meaning.’, Viktor Frankl. (Auschwitz survivor)
(Excerpt from The Choice, Edith Eger)

This is Trish, signing off.