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Smallville: Toys For Grownups

The last game of the Test series, and instead of watching it on TV from a dentist’s chair Peter B Farrell finds himself staring up at a seemingly endless loop of gyrating females who are cavorting around a group of musicians who should have been in school.


“It’s straightforward enough, there’s one Test match remaining; we’ve won two the Aussies one and one drawn; if England...”

“Don’t forget your check-up with the dental hygienist .” My wife interjected.

My visit to the dentist coincided with the second day of the final Test cricket match of the series and I would miss the first hour. I remembered though that a TV screen was usually placed strategically high above the dentist’s chair, presumably to divert or relax the patient.

Later, in the waiting room, I thumbed my way through a thick magazine devoted to the sale of the latest electronic gadgetry or ‘toys for grown-ups‘..
It seemed that my camera was becoming increasingly out of date, along with the electric cooker and vacuum cleaner. Would I really need a guidance system for my car rather than rely on map-reading?

At the appointed time I was called in for my check-up with the hygienist who is a recent import from Romania.

“Comfortable sir? Open wide.”

“Aargh arf ark.” I signalled to the hygienist who stopped scratching and scraping and asked me to rinse out.

“The TV, you haven’t got the Test match on, you know, the cricket.” I was staring up at a ‘music’ program, a seemingly endless loop of gyrating females cavorting around a group of musicians who should have been at school.

“Oh the cricket game, my husband is very keen but I do not understand although I try; it is important yes?”

“You could say that;“ and rolled my eyes theatrically at her assistant.

“Oh, cricket; who‘s playing?” The assistant knew even less than her colleague.

”It’s the last match and...” I spluttered as the hygienist pushed a device into my mouth ready for the next scrape. I closed my eyes to shut out the gyrating dancers and tried to ignore the noise of the electric grinder. Time drags slowly when you‘re not enjoying yourself but eventually I was rinsing out and mopping the beads of sweat from my brow.

“See you in six months, goodbye.“ They seemed cheerful enough as I left and had an uninterrupted afternoon to look forward to.

“England batting well and the Aussies toiling in the heat...” The commentator droned on as I spent the next few hours glued to the TV.

“Where are we off to tomorrow? You did promise a day out on the coast.”
I hadn‘t forgotten and I would have to make do with the highlights. I could also record at least three hours on the DVD. Not guaranteed, though as I had not mastered the device, which only seemed to work if I was watching it. As play finished for the day England were literally wiping the floor with the opposition.

Sheringham on the North Norfolk coast was our destination the following day and we joined the holidaymakers in the bright sunshine. We made our way to the crowded market with stalls. There’s something about holiday crowds. The atmosphere seems to induce everyone to search out and buy things they would never consider back in the safety of their homes. We were no exception and proceeded to stock up with exotic produce from a delicatessen, second-hand books and videos.

The piece de resistance was an incongruous model of Louis Armstrong, dwarf-like in stature, clad in evening suit and clutching his trumpet. At the touch of a button, grinning with gleaming teeth, head turning from side to side and waving his trumpet, Louis broke into “What a wonderful world’’.

“He also sings Hello Dolly“, the stallholder shouted.

“Buy it for your brother‘s birthday;” my wife enthused, but I needed no encouragement, I was a great fan of Louis and anything so politically incorrect was a must. According to the box, the series also included Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder and was sold as an educational and cultural item.

A late lunch was called for. A review in a national newspaper had listed a particular restaurant which was about a mile out of the town and I decided to give it a try. It proved an inspired choice and I was struck by the quiet ambience. The clientele were all of our generation, if not older. No slovenliness, even the odd cufflink on show, and a man in a pin stripe suit.

The lunch was the best I could ever remember for the UK, and the service was superb.

“We shall definitely come again.” I promised my wife. She agreed with my sentiments and after a drive along the coast we returned home in time to catch the last hour’s play.

“A good day for England, the series is in the bag;“ enthused the commentator. With hopefully three hours of video footage, highlights at 11 p.m. and Louis for company I had a lot to look forward to.

“Batteries not included.” Later that evening my wife was reading the instruction manual. “...And the shop’s closed.” I added.

You can’t win ’em all.



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