Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chip Dale's Leadership Promise No. 1: On The Professionalism of Dentists

The first day of the Lib Dem leadership election campaign didn’t begin well for the early front runner.

Gabby had her knee on my chest and was using her elbow to keep my head still. I could only try my best to keep my mouth shut as the scream of the Black & Decker cracked the tiles which came raining free from the bathroom walls like a scene in The Matrix. I was only glad when the extension cable came loose. Because of some EU ruling regarding electrical sockets in bathrooms, Gabby had been forced to plug in her 2400W power tool by the front door. The cable was an inch too short. As the drill slowed and Gabby spit a curse, I wriggled free of her grip and told her how I was having second thoughts. I might need my teeth fixing ready for all those close ups on Sky News, but saving a hundred pounds by fixing them at home hadn’t been my best idea.

But that’s the problem with real dentists. They’re like the American Army at times of international crisis. You want help but you don’t necessarily want their help. But who else is there to turn to? A Romanian with an indifference to suffering and a huge collection of diamond tipped drills? The Russians? The Chinese? Dentists know that we can’t go elsewhere. It means they have a market with almost untapped potential and it’s there job to tap into it as deep as your teeth run. They’d polish your ankles if they could prove they were a major cause of tooth decay.

They are the most visible part of the creep of professionalism that it ruining this once proudly amateur country of ours. That’s why I’m making this my first manifesto policy. I want to change the way we do things in this country.

A Liberal Democratic party led by The Chipster would be nothing but amateur and I want to reintroduce amatuerism into everything we do.

There are simply no amateurs these days, none of those madcap inventors who changed the world from their garden shed. What has happened to the crazy Englishmen who try to fly to Iceland by pigeon power? At one time, British amateurism was better than anything professional coming out of American, Europe, or Japan. A man with a yard or twine, a few bottle caps, and a steely determination could rule the world. Yet to be described as amateur these days amounts to an insult. I’m not saying that I want to be treated by amateur dentists but what’s wrong with going to see a man in tweed suit, a few hairs up his nostrils, and a dog sitting sniffing its testicles in the corner of the room?

Where have all the unique looks gone? Where is this nation’s personality and our enjoyment of work? With professionalism comes a need to look the part, a growing hegemony of listlessness in everything we do and wear. Newer whiter surgeries, bluer smocks, and eye protectors you’d think would stop a .44 magnum bullet, let alone an errant flake of tooth enamel. Where once the dentist had a receptionist who worked the odd few hours to do his paperwork, they are now assisted by teams of nubile young women whose whole purpose in life is to distract you from the crimes being committed in your mouth. I’m not complaining but, at the same time, why do I feel so dirty?

The only people who are losing their professional status are the very people who at one time you would consider – nay, insist – were professionals. Teachers are making way for teaching assistants and you’re lucky to find a doctor who knows a few words of English. Lawyers are no longer highly esteemed but are injury claims specialists who pop up in the ads during the Bill. Nurses no longer have our respect given they are paid half the yearly income you can expect to earn if you’re a second-rate plumber. University education has become an extension of Further Education, and has less to do with educating a small number of people to a high degree, and more to do with keeping huge numbers of layabout teenagers off the streets and away from the unemployment figures.

If the rise of the dentist marks the decay of our society, it will be left to us amateur revolutionaries in the Liberal Democrats to cleanse the nation’s gums. Cheap modern housing estates surrounded by leisure communities, fast food restaurants, out-of-town shopping centres, multi-screen cinemas, ten pin bowling, Laser Quest: it all adds up to a faux-recreation of 1950s suburban America which those of us with any sense will have to destroy in the next ten years. Pitched battles will be fought in depressingly manicured cul-de-sacs in new towns where we’ll fashion crude bludgeons from plastic fencing, solar garden lamps, decking, outdoor furniture, and barbecues stands.

Our war cry will be heard from one end of the country to the other:

‘Chip Dale is proud to declare himself an amateur in everything he does and he asks that you do the same!’


Richard Madeley said...

I never thought I'd be saying this, Chip, but I'll be supporting you. Your stance on dentists wins my vote.

Jane Henry said...

As I've been banned from Dave Hill's blog, I'd better come over here. The only trouble is Chipster, as I'm married to a dentist you've now lost my vote.

And most of them are Polish. Or Swedish Iranian.

Sadly for my husband at least, he never gets to work with any nubiles. In fact the less said about his dental nurses probably the better.

I think your desire for amateurism to reassert itself might have swung it back a little. So recant on the dentists,and I may be your middle class middleaged woman voter.

Mind you I may not count as I live in Surrey so therefore I must be an alcoholic (though I'm rather guessing the new improved Lib Dems under your leadership may be slightly more tolerant on that score.).

Would that electioneering in this country was as much fun.

love Janex.

PS no wonder you don't like going to the dentist. In the dental trade it's known as a distress purchase....

Big Chip Dale said...

Richard, I'm honoured to have your support. Does this mean you'll come up to Bangor and help me meet the people? I could do with a celebrity endorsement, though, as you might imagine, I would really prefer Bernie Clifton.

Jane, what can I say about Dave? He’s abandoned us to the wolves of cyberspace. I don’t know what I’ll do with my time now.

I’m glad you’re here but I really can’t retract what I’ve said about dentists. A close relative is a dentist, so it’s not as though I’m without pressure here to moderate my stance. Only, I’ve had terrible experiences with my local dentist. To say he’s a sharp operator with an eye for the cash is an understatement. They managed to ‘lose’ my NHS registration, forcing me to go private, despite my terribly low income (if I cleaned for a living, I’d be better off). Then there’s the business of what’s happened in my mouth over the years. You don’t want to know what they’ve done to my root canals. I think it’s everything but dredge them. So, apologies if my generalisations include your nearest and dearest (excuse the use of that word, I’m sure he’s not unreasonably expensive). But perhaps he could have a professional word in my local dentist’s ear. He can usually be found sunbathing on a Caribbean island, 9 months in the year, and laughing like the evil genius he so clearly aspires to be.

Mopsa said...

"Amateur revolutionaries of the Lib Dems" - sign of genius there Chip. Death warrant for the party though.

Jane Henry said...

Oh fair enough, Chip. I shall have to explain to my husband where he is going wrong so that we too can live in the Caribbean.

You've got my vote again.

I am SUCH a floating voter.

Ian Smith said...

Many dentists don't work after 2pm on Fridays. Can they be replaced by Romanians or Bulgarians who have no hangups regarding working all hours?

Big Chip Dale said...

Mopsa, just signs of genius? I think it's more than just signs.

Jane, so glad you're on my side. But if you float so much, how can I be sure of keeping you?

Ian, not many dentists work before 2pm on a Friday. Or any other day for that matter. My own dentist spends more time out of the country than a tax exile. He could well be a tax exile, in fact. The Romanian idea is workable but after consultation with Gabby she informs me that she's busy on Friday but could do your teeth for you first thing on Monday.

Jane Henry said...

Ian in some parts of the country they already have.

My husband must be the only dentist who does work after 2pm on Friday. This is very incovenient as I am going away for the weekend and he should be thinking of me not his patients and picking the children up. Poor little mites will have to not only be home alone but walk home alone...

Chip. Ah. Now here's the thing. It's your job to peg me down and stop me floating...