My dentist’s office is in Possil (officially called ‘Possilpark’, generally pronounced ‘Poa-sil’, often spraypainted as ‘Posso’). Possil has a lot of scumbags (like the Mos Eisley cantina). There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to criticism of places like Possil (i.e. a place with lots of poor people). You’re not allowed to slag it unless you lived there. I lived in Possil for eight years. It’s a shithole.
Even in the nice, plush confines of the dentist’s new offices, there are still signs that you are unmistakably in Possil. Half the men who come in for appointments are wearing Old Firm football tops. People communicate in grunts, or in that ‘Hawww’ way of hardcore neds.
As I sit in the waiting room a car with roof down parks outside. That’s not a very Possil thing to happen. That the driver—who’s going into the newsagents right across the street for a bottle of Pepsi, who’ll be away from his car for all of one minute—waits for the car’s roof to reattach before he even thinks of getting out, that’s someone who recognises where he is.
A Possilite walks in and to reception. He utters the phrase many here do, “I’ve been told to come in”. None of these people feel the need to expand on that statement. Who told you to come? Did you phone to book an appointment? Did your mum tell you to get your teeth checked out? After taking his name, the receptionist tries for a little more information.
“What dentist do you normally see, Andy or Robbie?”, the receptionist asks.
“Dunno”, the Possilite responds.
“Is it the tall, dark-haired one, or the smaller, blonde one?”
“Right. Okay, we’ll put you in with Lynne, she’s the new dentist”
“Lynne? Who’s that?”
“She’s the new dentist”
“Don’t know her”
Another man/boy walks in. He’s wearing a Rangers top. A tattoo runs down his forearm which reads, “Not even God can judge me”. I don’t know what to make of it. At least it’s not on his face.
At least watching Possil people go back and forth is fun. What isn’t fun is being reminded how many of them get their treatment for free. On almost every visit my dentist finds a way to mention how I’m ‘one of our few paying customers’. That’s never rung more true than on this visit, where I’m there for 90 minutes, spending most of that time in the waiting room. Around a dozen people come in while I’m there. Not one is paying for their treatment. Income support or benefits, there’s always some way that the NHS will pay for the work these people get done. Now, I’m not mean, if someone’s in pain and can’t afford to pay, then they should get the treatment done. But my dentist discusses fixing my crowns because my gums are receding and showing a dark line above my teeth. This will cost me a few hundred pounds, so I decline. Then he cheerily mentions that, if I was on the dole, I could have that done for free. Really? Minor cosmetic work? That’s what my taxes would pay for?
I’ve become the average Radio 2 listener.