Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Row Left Me Feeling Down in the Mouth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Row Left Me Feeling Down in the Mouth

Article excerpt


THE low point of last week was the blazing row that culminated in the sacking of my dentist. Oddly enough, the argument had nothing to do with my teeth.

It arose because, a month or so ago, I received a demand for pounds 70 for an allegedly overdue bill for dental treatment. There were several reasons why I could not understand this, one of which was that the money was supposedly owed by my wife, who has only visited my dentist once and certainly not on the date claimed in the statement.

But more importantly because I have always paid for our treatment before leaving his surgery, mainly in the belief that I would be rugby tackled to the ground if I tried to do anything else.

So I rang up to query it, forgetting that my dentist has made the business-limiting move of employing a receptionist who can neither speak nor understand English particularly well. After five minutes of mutual incomprehension that seemed more like a long weekend in an offshore call centre, I gave up.

Then I made the critical mistake of thinking that I really ought to put matters straight. So I wrote a nice, clear letter to the dentist himself, foolishly ignoring the near inevitability of its interception by the aforementioned receptionist, who promptly rang me up and began blithering unintelligibly all over again.

I suppose I must have lost my temper. At any rate, an HR lady for the client in whose offices I was working at the time told me that I would have been sacked for the resulting outburst if I had been one of her employees, which luckily I am not.

Interestingly, the objection seemed to be simply to the volume of my comments rather than their content or even to the colourful obscenity with which I rounded them off.

So luckily I did not need to cite our great national treasure, the polymath Stephen Fry, in support of my contention that the hackneyed claim that using bad language denotes a limited vocabulary is complete expletive deleted. …

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