In for a drilling

28th September 2012 at 01:00

One moment I am drifting helplessly backwards while the world slowly tilts. The next I am being lifted upwards, driven by an inexorable force towards a bright light. My breathing quickens as my heart begins to race. At the last moment I open my mouth as wide as it will go. But no terrible, heart-rending scream rings out; at least, not yet.

"Right, Mr Eddison, let's take a look shall we?" says the dentist, but even as he begins the unenviable task of examining my oral cavity something unexpected happens. A mysterious object slips out of my trouser pocket and clatters on to the tiled floor. It rolls for a few seconds, then comes to a stop.

There are many embarrassing things that can fall out of a teacher's pocket while he is lying in a dentist's chair. My first thought is that it might be a Zooble. I confiscated one earlier in the day after it literally popped out (it's what Zoobles do) for the third time during our "phonics is fun" session. Believe me, there are few things more humiliating than a pink Zooble falling out of your trousers.

The dental assistant retrieves whatever it is from the floor. As though she can read my mind and wants to reassure me, she wiggles it where I can see it. It's a blessed relief to discover that it's only my interactive whiteboard pen. The relief does not last long, however.

Even as the dentist stabs his periodontal probe into that sensitive area between my upper right fourth and fifth bicuspids (where apparently I haven't been flossing) I remember my teaching assistant, Mrs Himmler.

Mrs Himmler is looking after my class until I get back. I left her a nice and easy interactive whiteboard activity to do in my absence. At least, it would have been nice and easy if she'd had an interactive whiteboard pen with which to do it.

Unlike me, Mrs Himmler is the sort of person who puts things in their right place and expects to find things in their right place. She is not the kind of person who takes kindly to being required to search for things that aren't where they should be.

Mrs Eddison was once like this, but years of living with me have tempered her. She has learned to cohabit with the contents of my teacher pockets. Every other weekend she tidies our dressing table, separating school equipment (markers, pencils and sharpeners) from confiscated toys (stretchy aliens, articulated superheroes and glittery lipstick) and puts them into sandwich bags. These she puts into my school bag and says no more about it.

Saying no more about things is not Mrs Himmler's way. Having got what we up t'north call "a gob" on her, she often feels compelled to articulate her feelings in a way that is best described as emphatic and intimidating. But as I contemplate how she will articulate her feelings to me when I get back to school, I am saved by the dentist.

It seems I have developed a small cavity where a receding gum has exposed poor brushing technique. Fortunately for me, the dentist has developed a free half-hour where a cancellation has exposed an empty appointment slot. It means I will have to text school to say I won't be back this afternoon, but it's not my fault I'm in need of emergency treatment, is it?

"Open wide," says the dentist, preparing to inject local anaesthetic into my jaw. "Now just a little prick, Mr Eddison," which I suspect is exactly what Mrs Himmler is thinking.

Steve Eddison is a key stage 2 teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield.

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