Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Accidental Gardener

Perhaps 'haphazard' would serve better than 'accidental': I certainly don't seem to mind where I fling soil, weeds, and the occasional poor little earthworm (I did apologise). I have no plan, no grand design, but plant little shrubs where whim takes me and sow seeds where fancy leads me. Or when given orders.

Sun shining, its tendrils bathing the garden in sublime aureity, I brought out the big guns to plant a quince tree - quince! I thought it belonged only in fridges, The Owl and the Pussycat, and Renaissance recipes! - and herbs. As I strode to the battleground I had a sudden thought which demostrates a clear over-watching of Poirot, a thought after which I had to reason with myself that just because I had left the door to the garden shed open it did not mean someone was going to opportunely murder me with a hoe.

While I worked, I mentally named the birds around me I could see and hear from all sides: robin, blackbird, swallow, greenfinch, helicopter... Helicopter? That's not a British bird. Pah.

I moved on to the next task of weeding. Odious little growths. I declare I hold quite a Lady Macbethian murd'rous loathing towards weeds: "Out, damned weeds; out, I say!" I feel she would have made a formidable horticulturalist. Replace the blood with soil and there you have it. Greenfingers. Although surely brownfingers would be a more appropriate appellation in such circumstances?

Behind the garden gate runs a lane, a public path for walkers, but I've not seen anybody go down there for years. Today, however, I did: a man with a backpack carefully wasing himself over the stile. He must have been making for the river; a beautiful day for it. Warm, tranquil, cows on the rolling hills, the sweet song of birds, the melodious voice of a startled gardener crying "Aargh! Bumblebee! Bumblebee!" One does what one can.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Existential Dentistry

Eduard Punset, a Catalan man who is considerably well-known, once quoted an American scientist who was only convinced of the difference between animals and humans when social network sites started popping up.

Although I agree with him that the probability of giraffes tweeting about their defence mechanism ('Kicked a lion in the face today#downkitty'), or penguins updating their Facebook status: 'Have just seen an orca stuck on an ice floe - mega LOLz!', is unlikey, I beg to differ from the scientist. I believe the difference between animals and human beings are dentists. Now, I know what you're thinking - you're thinking: "Well, actually, there are animals out there that perform a sort of dental service on others. Look at those birds that nimbly peck the titbits from the teeth of a crocodile. Or those little fish that clean the gums of larger fish." True, true, true. However, I bet they don't speak the Code.

For this, the Code, is the difference: our homo sapien dentist fellows speak in a foreign language, for what purpose, I know not. I can only conjecture that when they say 'upper left 7 amalgam filling, slight crumbling' this is a code red alert for 'the tooth is about to disintegrate in a matter of seconds; get behind the screen and notify the Tooth Fairy'. (They're definitely in league.) Bill Bailey says much on the subject and he gives very good advice: say odd things back. Things that will totally confuse the mouth-marauder. "The pheasant has its own agenda..." is a good example.

Either the dentists are sadists and enjoy bamboozling their patients, convincing them that their teeth are going to be extracted and fashioned into chess pieces, or they're playing Battleships, enamel style: "Lower right 4 present; lower right 3, 2, 1 present - I've sunk the submarine!"

More terrifyingly, are the words: "Lower right 8, no sign". What do you mean 'no sign'? Is this good? Is Tooth Number 8 supposed to stay hidden beneath the gum, a harmless, bony, oral Atlantis never to surface and yet encourage deluded dentists to poke at it from time to time, convinced it exists? Or is it a bad thing? Am I supposed to have Tooth Number 8? Has it remained hitherto unseen for a purpose of its own, plotting to erupt in a style akin to the eponymous creature in Alien and take over my mouth in a splenetic protest over buccal hygiene until I am forced to send in the troops to drill it into submission? Or, quite possibly, am I in possession of a rare tooth; a tooth in existential denial (what is a tooth?)?

I, for one, have no idea. But I will be keeping a watchful eye out for tentacles...