Magazine article The Spectator

Revealing Yawn

Magazine article The Spectator

Revealing Yawn

Article excerpt

Please excuse my returning to the subject of teeth, but I've had molars on my mind. Since my trip to America where my British teeth were looked upon with horror, I have been examining them day and night. It would be fair to say that this has become an obsession.

In restaurants with friends and colleagues I will lose my train of thought and start thinking of teeth. Instead of asking the waiter for some hollandaise sauce with my asparagus, it will come out as, 'Could you please bring me some hollandaise teeth.' When I excuse myself to go to the loo it is invariably my intention to open my mouth like a hippo and stare into the mirror.

At home I have tried to remove stains with household items varying from kitchen knives to a needle. I did quite well with the needle, actually. I managed to remove a stain of about half a millimetre, after sticking the point in my gum by accident.

My teeth remind me rather of British people. You rub along, not really noticing or caring about things until someone points them out to you or all your teeth fall out - metaphorically speaking. I mean, take the abolition of the Lord Chancellor. I have spent the last few days chatting to that strange creature known as the man on the street. You mention the Lord Chancellor and he yawns - showing his teeth which are, comfortingly, even worse than mine. What does it matter? he sighs. He is only a man in a wig. Then you tell him that the post has been part of our constitution for 1,400 years and he might mutter something along the lines of what a pity it is getting rid of another tradition, etc.

But the point of the Lord Chancellor is not 'tradition' as in providing something jolly for tourists. He is there to help check the power of the prime minister. He is one of the cogs in our constitution which prevents a return to the days of any one man or woman wielding absolute power. So, in that sense, the Lord Chancellor is very modern indeed. …

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