A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Hooptedoodle #236 - Run Around Screaming until You Die

Probably as a result of being a bit under par (British euphemism for “knackered”) I have been suffering for a couple of days with what I believe is termed a gumboil. Not a lot of fun – very painful. Never had one before – my chief recollection of gumboils is of people in comic strip cartoons with distended jaws, usually supported by some kind of crude sling, tied with a knot on top of the head. Extreme gumboils would have drawn lines radiating from them, to indicate the sort of pain which could be felt at some distance. A gumboil, I understand, is like a dental abscess – the chief difference is that it usually doesn’t come from a rotten tooth, it stems from a gum infection.

I’ll spare you the grim details, but I have had an interesting couple of nights before I could get a dental appointment – the roof of my mouth swelled to an astonishing size and shape, and everything hurt – my jaws, my tongue, my nose, my sinuses, my left eye, my head – and my neck became very stiff and I had difficulty swallowing. The one small comfort in all this was that I discovered (once again? – can’t remember) that Nurofen tablets will not only reduce the pain, but also reduce the inflammation and the swelling quite dramatically – but we are speaking here of fairly small calibrations of discomfort, and there is a strict limit to how many Nurofens you can pop in a day.


Once upon a time, when I was 11, Ian Buckley told us that his brother was off school with a gumboil – the reason this was memorable is that Ian explained the treatment – you had to have a tooth removed (which in those days involved being put to sleep with gas – nitrous oxide?) – the only alternative was to stick a needle in the boil, but Ian claimed that there was a very good chance that the patient would then run around screaming until he died. Even at 11 we could see that this didn’t quite ring true, but it had that wonderful gothic whiff of crazed authenticity which schoolboys love, and so I stored away this fact: never prick a gumboil, or you will die horribly and very entertainingly. I stored it along with other well-known folk tales, such as how a disturbed swan will break your arm, and how there is no possibly way of avoiding injury if you run with scissors.

Today I eventually got a dental appointment. The dentist confirmed that it was a gumboil, and that he would have to lance it with a scalpel and drain it. No anaesthetic was possible, I was told, because a needle would simply push the infection deeper into the tissues. The procedure would be very unpleasant, but there was no alternative.

Right.

Clearly it would be unmanly to actually whimper, but my heart sank like a stone, and I very nearly asked – in an exaggeratedly careless manner, of course - whether I would run around screaming until death. Managed not to do that – sometimes we have to be secretly pleased that we do not disgrace ourselves more than necessary.

In fact it was almost disappointing. I wouldn’t recommend it as a way of spending a Tuesday morning, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, and I didn’t scream a bit. Of course, I feel very much better as a result of the procedure – I believe I can stop the painkillers, and I am now on a course of horse-sized antibiotic pills for 5 days (no alcohol, I was warned, or I would become very ill indeed – perhaps that is where the screaming comes in?), and with luck things should calm down. I shall make a point of getting a proper static-bike programme organised for the winter, and I shall make sure I get my oranges, and every day I shall be fitter, and better and wiser.

One final ramble in this tale. I took my prescription for the horse-pills to a rather old-fashioned little pharmacy in Haddington. Had to wait 15 minutes for them to be ready, so went for a quick coffee next door and then browsed around the pharmacy. Well now. They had retro aftershaves on sale – things I haven’t seen or thought about for years. There was Brut (aaargh!), Joop and a few others. I had a good chuckle to see some old friends, but suddenly things became more serious, and I found that my heart was set on buying a bottle of Old Spice Original, which I swear I have not used since I was 17 – at which time, I recall, I used to shave a couple of times a month. I was the height of sophistication in those days, naturally.


So I purchased a bottle. I’m quite pleased to have it, though I have not smelt it yet. Maybe I’ll have to get a vintage corduroy jacket to go with it. No - let’s just stop there. I'm pretty sure that at 17 I was even creepier than I am now.

21 comments:

  1. I feel your pain, and might I say this was a wonderfully presented post which made me wince.

    Point the first - yep. I remember Old Spice too.
    Point, the second - I once had to have a gumboil cut out/removed. Had to sit with my mouth open for what seemed like an hour, and have a student dentist work on it too. At one point the senior dentist, in a rich Irish accent, yelled - 'No...don't cut there!' as I recoiled in horror at the shaky machinations of her 'padawan'.

    After that, it all seemed to become a little more relaxed.

    I believe now, that there is more than a touch of ancient alchemy and the black art to the noble profession of dentistry...but who in their right mind is ever going to tell them this while sitting in 'the chair'?

    (I bet they love re-runs of Marathon Man.)

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    1. Superb - your gumboil story is far better than mine! I am reminded of a friend of mine, Ronnie, who was once shocked to find, when he went in for his consultation, that the hospital specialist was actually crying while looking at his X-Rays. In fact the doctor was suffering with hay fever, but Ronnie had a very bad moment.

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  2. Too funny Tony.

    Run around screaming until you die -- I think it starts when you learn to walk.
    Regards,
    John

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    1. Somehow this brings to mind the current TV debates in the Presidential election - can't think why...

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  3. Don't forget Tabac, still in Boots I think; not only sophisticated but foreign. Though I wouldn't normally place Germany high on the perfumer scale...

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    1. Yes, indeed - also Denim - Paco Rabanne was a bit exotic as well (in a downmarket sort of way). I spent a couple of very fragrant years devoted to Ralph Lauren's green Polo - people could tell where I had passed by, sometimes days afterward. Eventually I decided that understatement has a certain dignity...

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  4. Of course no discussion of ancient aftershaves would be complete without an honourable mention of both Hai Karate and Casablanca....the aftershave that lingers on....

    ....and on...

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. Great stuff - I've also been reminded about Denim, and Pino Silvestre, which came in a green glass bottle shaped a bit like a pine-cone.

      The advertising for these products was always designed to make you believe that women would be queuing up for a sniff. My friend Lawrence read an article in a science magazine about a men's cologne which contained actual male pheromones, which was designed to reduce the ladies to a jelly-like state. He found out where you could get some by mail order, and sent off £25 for a small bottle (this in the days when a good after shave was about £3). He also considered buying a baseball bat, to fight off the hordes of rampant women, but he needn't have worried. The stuff was a scam - no discernible effect - didn't even smell particularly pleasant.

      Interesting marketing - if you sell such a product, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to take you to court because it failed to produce the grotesque results they had hoped for.

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  5. Hope you feel much better soon.
    Don't forget Blue Stratos!
    Alan

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    1. Feeling much better - thanks Alan. Just a rather sore mouth, where some bugger has been sticking a scalpel in it.

      Blue Stratos was actually fairly distinct - i.e. recognisable - wasn't that Boots own brand?

      The trick with all these things was not to mix them. If someone bought you a bottle of this, a jar of that, an aerosol spray of the other, you had a recipe for something appalling. Even the Xmas gift sets (cue Blue Stratos) would get you into trouble when the deodorant ran out, and you started using one from a different range.

      It was very easy to end up smelling, to use my mother-in-law's eloquent phrase, like a pack of weasels.

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  6. My compliments to Prof De Vries, who emailed to ask for clarification of "horse-sized" pills. I must explain that I meant that the pills are of the sort of size I imagine pills for horses must be, not that each pill is as big as a horse. That would be silly.

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  7. Never heard of a gumboil but I have had an abscess, didn't exactly enjoy that. Luckily I don't own a gun or I might have been tempted.

    I confess to a fond attachment to Old Spice despite not being "allowed" to buy it for decades now. Surreptitiously humming or whistling the jingle tune can be managed though.

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    1. Jingle tune? - I don't know any jingle tune...

      I feel a diversionary subproject coming up.

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  8. Excellent post - spluttered all the way through a mouth full of coffee... I am reminded that the Jackal used Old Spice bottles to hold the hair tint used in a couple of his disguises - one, clearly they were considered sophisticated at the time, but two, I can't help thinking the hair tint probably smelt better.... I also remember the look on the French customs man's face when he looked at the bottles and then the urbane Mr Fox... :o) I really must stop watching that film quite as much as I do....

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    1. Thank you, young Steve - you reminded me that a DVD of The Day of the Jackal would probably be a cheap and worthwhile thing to acquire, but when I checked it out I found lots of abusive reviews of a supposedly widescreen film which sits in a letterbox slit in a 4:3 picture, so I held off. Hmmm.

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  9. Glad you're on the mend. Never had a gumboil but in grad school I had an abscess that I treated with oil of cloves to dull the pain. Since said oil did not alleviate my poverty it got worse and worse, and the final treatment was expensive and brutal, far worse than if I had just gone to the dentist at once.
    I was a Tabac man in my youth. Now I favour expensive Italian concoctions. My wife is convinced that men should not use anything but odorless deodorant, and has never, ever, ever bought me aftershave or cologne, which rather supports your point that the myth that this stuff makes us attractive to women is just that, a myth.

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    1. Aha - or it could be that she doesn't want you to be mobbed by other women.

      No - I don't think so, either, but I just thought I'd see how it looked, written down.

      Oil of cloves is odd stuff - I'm not sure that it works, either. Has anyone ever been known to get relief from anything at all by application of Oil of Cloves, or is it just more mumbo-jumbo?

      How would Oil of Cloves with added pheromones sell, do you think?

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  10. Oh the memories.....There's no pleasure more satisfying than sticking my hobby knife into my gumboil......and the taste? Divine!

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    1. Did you put a fresh blade in the hobby knife? No - no, I mean AFTER your lanced the gumboil?

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  11. I always try very hard not to scream at the dentist because it frightens the kids.

    Old spice - it was cool and trendy, then it became a dad thing and now it is retro (i.e. cool again). I am so glad that I kept my parallel kex, 3 star jumper, platforms and duffle coat, surely they must be coming back into fashion any day now.

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    1. Norm - you are my kind of chap.

      I was always bad at the fashion thing - naturally I've got worse as the years have passed. I bought a pair of Joseph Seibel shoes about 10 years ago, and they are the most fantastic shoes I ever had - comfortable, practical, robust, weatherproof, and their shape is so unfashionable that is almost beyond criticism (i.e. people who see them rush home to check whether they should be wearing a pair like this) - but they have worn out (isn't it great when things wear out, rather than becoming a source of shame while you are still wearing them?).

      I have spent about a year trying to get some replacement Seibel shoes - guess what? - I don't like the current range - I prefer the one from 10 years ago. Hmmm.

      Boring tale, but true: when I was young and almost lively I played in a successful local rock band, and I became something of a minor local anti-fashion icon, since I used to make a point of wearing Marks & Spencer's cardigans (the ones with the leather football buttons) and Hush Puppy boots and all that.

      Hang on to that duffle coat, boy.

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