Why I went to the Fish Shop for Choc and Beetroot Muffins

It’s strange how the oddness of 2020 has changed our perception on what is important in life.  This week I found myself in the car, very excited for a trip…to the dentist!

Now in my pre ‘Corona Virus’ life I would have told you that I hated going to the dentist.  It’s a legacy of growing up in the sixties.  Back then a trip to the dentist was like a visit to a high tech torture chamber.  Yes, my dentist was a lovely guy and yes, the nurse was always very kind, but every visit came with the panic of maybe having a filling or worse still an extraction. 

I’m not really sure why kids born in the sixties had such bad teeth.  We did all the same things as kids do these days. We liked our sweets and ice cream, but so did my children and I’m glad to say some of mine, now in the 30’s, and are still waiting to have their first filling.

Maybe it was the decision to put fluoride in the water that saved later generations teeth from decay.  The USA started adding fluoride in the 1940’s but sadly fluoride was only introduced into UK water for a trial run in Midlands in the 60’s.  Here in Wales we must have missed out and whatever the reason fluoride or no fluoride, I feel my teeth are a disaster.  I often say I don’t get toothache, because I have so many fillings I get metal fatigue.

I mentioned this to the children who greeted me at the dentist.  I say children, my dentist looked as if she should have been back in school studying for her GCSE’s and her assistant didn’t appear to be much older.  I explained I had a phobia about visiting the dentist and they understood, they had seen it many times before from people of my age. 

The dental nurse told me that when she started work her grandfather couldn’t believe she had gone into such a ‘terror filled’ occupation.  She had tried to explain to him that these days dentistry was painless and that children actually enjoyed their regular check-ups. It was then I realised if it was her grandfather that was obviously drawing on his dental horror history I must have been old enough to be these ladies’ Grandfather too!

They do say ‘if you remember the 60’s you weren’t really there’ but I would say if you went to the dentist in the 60’s you will never forget! In those days they didn’t give you a little injection to take out a troublesome tooth. No, back in the sixties they used to put you out with a general anaesthetic.  I can still remember the smell from the rubber mask being placed over my face and waking up some time later knowing that something was missing from my mouth. 

I mentioned this on my BBC Radio Wales Late night show and I soon found I wasn’t alone.  Having said that, my experience in the 60’s appeared to be a lot better than the dental experiences of the generation before me.  One lady rang up to say her dentist had extracted all of their teeth at the age of 13.  For the past 60 years she has worn dentures.  Another told me that she didn’t have any of her own teeth anymore, but she didn’t like her dentures.  It wasn’t a problem, she kept them in a drawer somewhere and stayed away from apples.

Anyway, after all of that mental trauma I carry with me I must say my dental experience this week was painless, informative and I can’t wait to go back!!!

Wednesday was very exciting as I had to go to the tip. The garden has needed attention for some time and a break in the weather meant I could put it off no longer.  The trouble is once you start digging, chopping, pruning and sawing in no time at all those white council garden waste bags are soon overflowing.  So, I loaded up the trimmings and weeds and toddled off to the tip in Clyne. 

It’s odd, in years gone by I’ve tramped around the world carrying a guitar; from Prague to New York, from Amsterdam to Rome. There I was on Wednesday morning, in a car full of rubbish, smiling with excitement as for the second time in 2 days I had a reason to leave the house.  In total I made 3 visits and I have to say the warm welcome from the lads working there warmed my cockles.  If the weather holds I’ll be a regular visitor again this week.  I wonder if they’ll invite me to their Christmas party.

Whilst I was at the tip on Wednesday inadvertently I was also letting someone down badly.  As a result, I spent most of the Late Show that night apologising. The Late Show is a place of safety where anyone can ring in for a chat.  Sometimes they tell me a funny story about a cat, dog or hamster; sometimes they want to share some sadness in their life like losing a loved one or the struggles they have faced with loneliness during the pandemic.

On Tuesday night I had been joined by ‘Liz the Dolls’ from Morriston.  Liz often calls in when she is cooking.  With Liz being a nocturnal creature, this usually happens after midnight. Liz has been threatening to cook some cakes for me but with lockdown I wasn’t sure how she would get them to me.  I happened to mention that I wanted to go for a run along the Mumbles front on Wednesday morning.  Liz said she would pop down with some Chocolate and Beetroot muffins.  I assumed she was joking.

Come Wednesday morning I was rudely awakened by my granddaughter banging on the door.  We had a very special time listening to the tolling of the bell from All Saints Church at 11am for Remembrance Day. As I wanted to make the most of our time together I decided to knock the running on the head and made for the kitchen to warm up some croissants. After that I went into the garden with a shears before taking those trips to the tip.

Unbeknown to me ‘Liz the Dolls’ was in Mumbles looking out for me, armed with a Tupperware box full of muffins.  She has also brought Rhydian. Just to explain, Liz was given her nickname by Mr Go Compare, Wynne Evans, when she told him on air that she shared her house with 2 blow up dolls.  For some reason as well as the muffins Liz had brought the one named Rhydian with her to help dispense cake.

When it became apparent that I wasn’t running she decided to start visiting various shops offering her cakes, collecting money for charity and asking if anyone knew where I lived.  In the end she decided to leave a bag of muffins for me at Coakleys Fishmonger on Newton Road.

When I got to the studio that night and opened up my emails I found about half a dozen emails from Liz telling me her precise whereabouts throughout the afternoon.  That night she called in. I tried to explain the reason I had let her down but in the end I spent most of the evening apologising.  Some people rang in to say it was good to hear a man grovel to a lady on air.  I told them I was really good at it because I had had so much practice!

On Thursday I went straight to Coakleys.  When I got there, I asked them had a lady with a blow up doll left some cakes for me the day before.  They looked at me for a moment before heading into the back of the shop where they had stored them in the fridge. I thanked them and took a picture for posterity.

Thursday night and Liz rang in again.  We had a tasting session on air, and I thanked her once again.  As I said at the beginning, it’s strange how the oddness of 2020 has changed our perception of what is important in life!