Thursday, 26 April 2012


Open wide, say ahhhh.” The doctor said. “Ahhhh”, I obediently replied, while she shone a torch into the back of my throat and poked about a bit. Blood pressure and cholesterol checked, both apparently normal. Next stop the dentist. Chair tilted back, the dentist peers into my mouth and continues to talk at me. Why do they do that? I resist the temptation to converse; I wouldn't want to unintentionally bite her. A fine story this would be for the tabloids. The headlines scream:
Dentist Bitten By Patient!
'A dentist lost a finger today after a patient bit back. In a savage attack, the patient chomped off the dentist's index finger. “She just went for me!”The dentist cried, “The nurse had to prise her off me.” The patient claims it was an accident and refuses to accept full responsibility. In a statement read out by her solicitor, the patient said, “She (the dentist) would persevere in making conversation. My jaw clamped around her hand in my attempts not to answer her. It had the desired effect of silencing her.” Unfortunately medics were unable to save the finger.'

I digress, but the above will come true if this examination's not over soon. “All done”, my dentist declares, “On your way out, don't forget to book an appointment with the hygienist.” I check my watch, I have a routine eye test at 1pm, but I'll skip to the point I'm making. Annual health checks put you on spot; you're observed under the critical gaze of a practitioner. Scrutiny is never comfortable, but then it's not meant to be. You may be told you're not brushing your teeth properly or be given advice on diet and smoking. You may take offence or resent this, but ultimately as individuals we all need to take responsibility. Professionals are not there to save us should we choose to ignore their counsel.

These personal MOTs reminded me of how in everyday life we all watch one another. Read each other's body language, examine an individual's appearance and analyse their mode of address. If, as individuals, we are held accountable, shouldn't this be extended to politics, oppressive regimes and, sport? Is it right for prestigious events to be staged if the public strongly protests? When is it right to defy, rather than pacify, scrutineers?