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A Bridge Too Far

November 1, 2014

Next week throws up for me another of the awful consequences of the input into our lives of Steven’s old social worker, Whistlers Mother.

Back in the summer of 2009 I was having some extensive dental work. I had several teeth removed in preparation for a bridge. It was taking ages, was painful and I became terribly self concious about the large gap in my mouth. And then Whistlers Mother delivered that shocking ultimatum that if we remained together in the family home, she would remove Steven from our care. No other options were on the table. End of our family.

I had to suddenly find two months deposit (£2.5k) for the shithole of a flat we ended up in and had to use the money I’d saved for the treatment to cover it. I was just about to start the treatment again in 2012 when Hillingdon stopped my housing benefit. Having to find the shortfall every month for a year so we didnt end up on the streets put paid to the bridge building for a second time.

On Monday, before the launch of #LBBill, we have a big meeting up in Whitehall. After the meeting, we are doing a broadcast outside the Department of Health. Cameras! Aaaagh! With the launch, there are likely to be a number of media engagements coming up and all trigger off a feeling of dread. I’m reasonably confident in what I’ve got to say but what I will look like, leaves me quaking. It may just be vanity but it matters to me.

In 2010, the first ever interview I gave whilst Steven was away was with Radio 4’s You & Yours. A radio programme, so nice and safe. After the interview, the producer led me to another room for an unplanned interview with BBC London News. TV! I must have looked like a second rate ventriloquist as I tried to do the whole interview without opening my mouth. As time has gone on, Ive got more used to it but I know the gap is there and everyone will see it.

Once the purchase of the flat goes through, I’ll have a bit of money left over and hope to start the dental work again. Five years after Whistlers Mother tore our life apart.

But look on the bright side. For an encore at the public engagements, I can give them a quick chorus of All I Want For Christmas Is My New Front Teeth.

My bite will be back……

From → Social Care

  1. Jayne knight permalink

    All these things just add and add up don’t they? It seems when all the crap starts to come it just comes in shovel fulls until you get literally buried in it. Yet still you are here riding through their shit with a joke and a whistle, which actually is the reaction of many people who have been war wounded and shell shocked or they would just give up.
    Well gaps are fashionable. Gaps like yours also tell a big story. The gap in your teeth is probably not so obvious to others. The fullness of your heart is. I know what I thinks best in a person.
    Hey just think how posh you will feel when you get your new bridge! New lease of smile!

  2. Jayne – its hard to whistle with no front teeth!

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      You are so funny Mark. Keep the black humour going. It is one survival tactic that in my experience numbs the pain from all the shit thrown at you.

  3. The evening before my father’s funeral (end of August this year) I was eating a perfectly normal piece of bread when one of my side teeth cracked in half and decided it would rather stay in the bread than munch it up. No dentist could see me so I went to the funeral where of course in the circumstances there was much hand shaking and kissing – me with a cracked and jagged side tooth. I smiled as little as possible, which seemed to go down well with everyone. However, my dentist is loath to take it out (she says it can’t be saved) and as she isn’t sure how to replace it, I continue to live with a tooth so cracked that small pieces continue to come away most days (nice!). Clearly I sympathise with your situation. There is clearly a need for a new charity “teeth for justice fighters”. I would make a donation to it, but I’m having to save up for more dental work!

  4. Sally permalink

    Mark, my bridge started showing a black metal bit at the front years ago, and I was too tired with various battles and tribunals and too scared about the future of my son to justify the time and expense of the work needed.
    I developed a close- lipped Clint Eastwood style of delivery at all the meetings and hearings and learned not to smile with open mouth or risk revealing all.Embarrassing to fear you look dowdy/shabby/as if you woke up under a bridge when trying to argue and reason.”Teeth for justice fighters” sounds like a wonderful idea.

    Good luck with getting a new smile. From your photos in the media no gap shows so your efforts to conceal have paid off!

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