When I visited the dentist last month, I thought it prudent to ask about my wisdom teeth as every so often, one will flare up and become uncomfortable for a day. I was referred to my local NHS Hospital (for the Non-British, free healthcare), where they told me I would be seen in two months. The actual surgery would be another two months later. It's a ridiculously long time, but it's a) free, and b) exactly the same service as going private. As long as you're happy waiting, it's an incredible gift to the public that is haemmoraging money and falling apart at the seams.
Except one wisdom tooth won't wait. I had one of those five times a decade twinges yesterday but this time, it's different. It's real. This fucker wants out, and it's letting me know about it, particularly at 2am this morning, and at 2.30am, and 4am, and 5:25am. At eight o'clock, I phoned my boss and told him not to expect me, as this tooth feels as if the root is made of barbed wire and is trying to burrow unceasingly into my gum like a dog burying a spiky bone. Like a true man, I am finding this excruciatingly unbearable.
So I dared to approach the NHS with an emergency. First call took 12 minutes to be answered. A bored woman told me to call the emergency triage. I did. A recording told me the triage operates from 7pm. I then call Hospital reception. An indifferent lady told me I won't get seen and to call the NHS Direct line. I did. Another woman bombarded me with questions; name, postcode, date of birth, to the point that I had to tell her I was finding it painful to reply. She eventually told me to call the East London Dental School some 30 miles on the other side of town. The School's evil banshee took great pleasure in telling me I could wait all day and not be seen.
'But this needs to come out now!', I said.
'We can't do that today', she said.
'When can you?', I asked.
'Four months', she snapped gleefully.
I am now going to shell out a lot of money to see a private dentist today - that'll be a credit card purchase then. If need be, he will remove the tooth himself for three quarters of a million pounds.
I love this country.