Saturday, December 08, 2007

Things that happened this week


A student said to me, “I can’t speak French. Funny thing is, though, I can speak it when I go to France.” Handy.


On Wednesdays I usually walk home from work – it’s about 3 miles – just to stretch my legs properly. This Wednesday, it was, as we say in Scotland, stotting down – pouring with rain that bounced off the pavements and up again in straight lines with little balls of water on the top. Some of the rain stotted up the backs of my legs, soaked into my trousers and gradually trickled down into my socks. My jacket is kind-of-showerproof – it might repel a gentle summer drizzle - and so water soon soaked through my hood and started to run down my neck and back. After a while, I was so wet that it became almost enjoyable – I couldn’t get any wetter so I became part of the shower, a big lump of weather splashing and squelching along. Just as I got home, the rain stopped. The cats were glad to see me. But why didn't you just stay at home today? they enquired.


I had a dental check-up at 8 am and arrived before the dentist. Our current dentist is very young, but normally he wears his white dentist’s top and appears reasonably… dental. However, he arrived looking like a sixteen-year-old: woolly hat pulled down over his ears, scruffy jacket, black jeans. Taking off his jacket, he then revealed a crumpled yellow t-shirt emblazoned with the name of some band. And I thought… this is what it’s going to be for the rest of my life. As I approach retirement and for ever after, all my dealings with professionals will feel as if I’m putting my faith, my health, my life in the hands of children. Strange. I once vaguely thought that I might do a PhD or something when I retired, but in fact I won’t. How embarrassing it would be to be told by a smooth-faced youth that my ideas were foolish.

Still, of course, the world belongs to the young, and why shouldn’t it? It belonged to us when we were young. Anyway, I suppose I’m better having a youngster tending my teeth than an arthritic 60-year-old with failing eyesight.

And once he put on his dentist’s uniform he looked more convincing.


  1. It's amazing how getting drenched turns rain into fun. I'd have written that remark in French but I'm not in France!

    I so relate to your comment about putting your faith in children. I'm off to see a sports doctor on Thursday. He's older and well-reknowned in Canberra. Apparently if I needed surgery (not likely in my case) he would 'assist' rather than doing it himself. Best of both worlds really.

  2. I'm 27 and have now trained medical students (only 1-2 years younger that myself) on their lab rotation through the pathology's frightening how STUPID a lot of them seem when it comes to lab work.

    What does it say about me that doctors started seeming surprisingly young when I was still an undergraduate?

  3. I love the rain experience! Like a big lump of weather...
    we have had so much rain, I too have been soaked a few times, and it has been lovely when dry clothes are on the horizon.

    My dentist is a beautiful Korean girl, with the sweetest happiest face...she apologises the whole time she has to do anything awful to me.
    I enjoy looking at her young face. So pretty!

  4. Policemen too... they look like babies. Now why do I seem to remember my grandparents and parents saying the same thing???

    But strike one for the oldies.... I have been asked to teach maths. When I mentioned to the head of the Maths department, that the last time I did Maths was in 1971, and quite possibly before he was born, he said... but you were taught so well, and at least you know what you are doing. Hmmmm. Nothing of the genius level, you understand, but converting fractions to percentages type of stuff. Vacant startes from 16 year olds. Give me strength.

  5. I was always hoping one of my children would become a dentist to look after my disintegrating teeth in my old age....but so far I've got:

    - a sociologist-historian (hmmm...I see a long future of unemployment)

    - a musician (well, he'll not only be unemployed but living at home)

    - a 16 year old who isn't academically inclined

    Bring on the dentures.

  6. I've got to the age where some of our politicians are contemporaries of mine, which I find depressing - politicians in my mind are old.

  7. If it's any consolation, my Shakespeare tutor in my final year of my BA was younger than me, and I was 22. And I've had a boss younger than me (which I suppose is only going to get worse, too!)

  8. My husband speaks excellent fluent french. When drunk. Many confused tourists on buses during the Festival can attest to this.

    And my son's primary 5 teacher looks young enough to be my son.

  9. Having been at my job for 15 years now, I'm still amazed when people look to me as the expert. Me? Oh yeah, me.

    My poor dh (age 39) went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and ran into his brother (age 29) in the stairway. When he got into the chair, the hygenist (looks about 17) asked him, "We just had M_____ E______ in here -- is he your son?"

  10. Oh yes, everyone is younger than me. I can tell, they have something besides an ear pierced and at least one visible tattoo.

    Love the cat profile.


  11. Great writing. Love the rain story and I too know your feelings about the young taking care of us!! and best of all it all made me smile and feel good!! thanks!!

  12. Well your very own "child" is taking care of peoples' eyes. And I'm sure he is extremely competent, even if he looks sixteenish without his lab coat!

  13. Great observations.

    I'm a creature of the rain. I relish getting soaked. The rains in Scotland sound like stern stuff, though.

    I know your tongue was in your cheek a bit, but please don't let the theoretical chidings of smooth-faced youth keep you apart from your PhD, if you have the desire to get one. You don't seem like the sort to have foolish ideas, so if someone says you do, you can safely disregard their opinions.

    I'm 15-20 years older than the mothers of similarly-aged children at my son's preschool. I find that it leads to a bit of a disconnect as far as life experiences, but it's also immensely freeing. The additional age gives one perspective about what is and isn't important. You might find that advantageous if you went back to school. It's also the case that going to school as an older adult can be a purer, more enjoyable experience. One goes largely for the sheer joy of learning, as opposed to the pressure and grind of getting a degree when one is very young.

    Right. That's probably more in the way of opinions out of me than you needed!

  14. Grinning at everything here as usual, Isabelle! And that includes the comments - your readers are as funny as must be catching!
    I'm printing some more of your blog on to paper to show Helen. The Girls are taking a Christmas dinner in to her tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
    The sad thing I've found about people younger than me doing the things we used to expect 'older' people to do, is that in dealing with MUCH older people (as in 80+) the younger ones don't have the same respect for them that we used to at their age. >:(

  15. I can speak no foreign languages- which works, as I can't understand any either.
    I can't even speak cat- or dog.

    I have noticed how the youngsters they pass off as police & doctors are amazingly forward for their ages!

    Once you resign yourself to being soaked, it doesn't seem so bad.

  16. What a fun week you've had LOL! I love just being able to let go and not care about getting wet. That's the beauty of walking home and not to work -- it would never do to be sopping wet at work all day. Funny, I notice the same things now as I'm getting older -- my Dr. and dentist are younger than I am. Kind of sad, but you're right -- the world belongs to the young!

  17. I'm back! I just wanted to add my two cents to Tanya's about going for your PhD. I have a friend who is a year or two older than me who just finished hers in English Lit. It took her a while, but what satisfaction she got from the whole process. And is now teaching at university and loving it...So, you're not too old----go for it!