Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dentists and Drivers

Bullet No.1644 (1949)
Tactlessness – Doors marked “Pull”!
The waiting room may have comfy chairs and creased magazines stuffed with celebrities and recipes, but there’s no getting away from the reality. On the other side of the intercom, dentists offer a whole suite of cruelties to their hapless clients involving drills, scrapers, needles and pliers.
This is one of the more accessible Bullets, Bill’s riff being obviously on people arriving at the dentist not wanting to be inadvertently reminded of what they are about to endure. I can’t help thinking, though, that in his mind there may have been another, more direct, relationship between doors and teeth.
Dentistry has always had its amateurs, from the barber surgeons of the 18th century to those who today are priced out of the surgery and into the pound shops for a DIY filling kit. But the classic home remedy has always been the old string door slam.
This is one of those things that makes you wonder if anyone, other than Laurel and Hardy, has ever actually done it. In fact, it seems to be fairly common, especially among youngsters wanting to help a wiggly first tooth on its way. Their orthodontic antics have even become a faintly disturbing YouTube genre with some downright dangerous variations, including a tooth tied to the back of a car.
Family corner:
Did Dad like Laurel and Hardy? 
Is it true that the dentists on Parsonage Street used to deliberately drill holes in our teeth when we were kids so that they could let students practice filling them up again (I think Mum told me this)?
What toothpaste brands did we use? 
Did any of us have braces?

Send me your comments. 
Bullet No.1644 (1949)

Licence costs us “Crown”!
At the time Bill was thinking this one through, the UK had only recently returned to requiring a full licence based on a competence test for drivers. The first licences had been obtainable from 1903 by simply popping along to the Post Office and paying 5 shillings (otherwise known as a Crown), without the need to prove that you knew how to control a car.

Given that in the mid-1890s it was estimated that there were about 15 cars on the roads of Britain, a figure which had risen to about 800 by the turn of that century, this was probably not too much of a problem. But by 1934, the chances of clattering into a fellow motorist had dramatically increased, with 1.5 million cars on the road. In 1935, the first driving tests were introduced as a precondition to getting a licence.
Four years later, the tests were put on hold. Perhaps fearing that apprehensive novices struggling to double declutch on a wet hill would hold up troop movements around country lanes, the only licences issued between 1939 and 1946 were provisional, untested licences. Tests were resumed in 1947, but as Bill’s Bullet suggests, the cost of a full licence seems to have remained one Crown.
Family corner
Did we have a car/cars? 
Could Dad drive/did he ever try to learn? 
How did we get around the country?

Send me your comments.