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I Am Barbara Cartland’s Love-Child September 16, 2012

Posted by markswill in About me, Cars and Bikes, Media, Navel Gazing.

It’s not often I claim anything in common with the late Barbara Cartland, but right now I’m writing this in bed… albeit not wearing a pink nightie. This is because having just had eleven teeth removed at one go, I’m drugged close to the eyeballs with industrial-strength painkillers: something else, judging by the rubbish she wrote, I suspect Ms Cartland was also partial to. And the reason for that is that they all had to be extracted in one hit so’s I could immediately start wearing a pair of  horrid if temporary dentures.

This modest revelation is not, I promise you, a prelude to an outburst of self-pity, but rather to a broader treatise on aging… although perhaps that’s almost as bad. Almost as bad, in fact, as the Observer’s price rise this week, but more on that later.

The problem with teeth is part of the problem with aging, inasmuch as like the rest of one’s mind and body, they wear out. Unkind voices have suggested that all the cocaine and speed I took in a past life accelerated my dental decline, but be that as it may, the deterioration of one’s molars is but one of many symptoms we baby-boomers must apparently suffer, sooner or later. Hair-, hearing-, sight-, stamina- and memory-loss, thickening girth, wrinkled faces and flabby limbs are some more of the almost common ones, others such as calcified joints, poisoned livers, loss of muscle tissue and libido, plus of course the Big ‘C’ being less widespread but more serious.

As a reasonably vain man, I try to stave off such deteriorations as I can reasonably afford, so I go to the gym, watch what I eat, avoid alcohol a couple of days a week and so on, but I clearly didn’t look after my teeth carefully enough and when various bridges and crowns collapsed earlier this year I was somehow rather shocked. Moreover after 18 months on an NHS waiting list, I wasn’t best pleased to be told that unless I went private, the best the state could do would be to hoik most of them out and provide me with acrylic dentures for the rest of my days. The thought of plonking a set of false teeth into a glass of Steradent each night after passionate sex with my 24 year-old love goddess frankly appalled me, so with the rigour typical of an aging hypochondriac, I investigated implants and even paid for consultations with specialist clinics both here and in Hungary (where life, and dentistry, are cheaper).  But even when you tot up the cost of airfares, hotels and the lonely nights of painful recovery doing it abroad, I was looking at the price of a brand new Mini to get my mouth looking and working good again. Plus various friends in the know recounted lurid tales of surgery gone wrong and implants having to be removed from infected gums.

Although I won’t elaborate here, my solution was a halfway house between conventional falsies and implants, but the overarching point I want to make is that NO-ONE PREPARES YOU FOR THIS SORT OF THING. Just as kids today aren’t taught how to cook, manage their finances or, it seems, read and write, we weren’t trained how to deal with middle-age. I dunno about you, but with the exception of drug abuse, I still think and try to behave pretty much as I did in my 20s. I still have poor impulse control, still want to dance and drink late into the night, still like fast cars and motorcycles, still like s-e-x, still dress to impress even if it’s only for myself etc., etc. And if I could afford a hair transplant as well as the dental work, I’d do that too.

Is this growing old paranoidly (a word I just invented), embarrassingly or disgracefully? Or should I and my peers, most of whom seem to act to varying degrees as I do, behave more in line with the generation in front of us, swaddled in beige, slowly driving sensible Toyotas, joining the bowling club, shuffling round town with our Zimmers and doting on grandchildren with a passion that transcends our own intellectual and cultural curiosity? Sooner or later we are all going to peg it, but these next couple of decades are uncharted territory for the likes of us who cut our teeth (sic) in the laissez-faire late ‘60s and a lot of us don’t have a nice pension to cushion the blow. Any suggestions?

And talking of pegging it, today’s Observer has just raised its price from £2.20 to £2.50, a hike justified in a pious little editorial by claiming “it is the only way we can hope to continue to invest in the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper… (and provide) excellence in journalism.” This excellence is doubtless exemplified by page three’s main story about a British businesswoman setting up an “erotic website as an antidote to hardcore sexual imagery” and a double-page spread on London’s “opera wars” between Verdi and Wagner (yawn). But worse still is the Observer Magazine which is now little more than a unctuous showcase for expensive fripperies, fancy food and C-list thesps no-one cares a damn about. If the Observer ditched their magazine, had the balls to drop its price by 50% and put some backbone into their editorial offering my guess is that circulation and thence ad. revenues would rise significantly. But we all know that like its Guardian sibling, their management myopically believe that getting everyone, including their core 45-60 year-old readership, to shell out for an iPad and access it online will be their salvation, no matter how much their thus far failed attempts to do so, and make money out of it, costs them.

So the Observer now costs more than having my copy of the New Yorker air-mailed to me each week, which is beautifully written, far more interesting and arguably news-worthy. But then it’s aimed pretty much at middle-aged readers who want to, and still can, really get their teeth into something.

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1. hed maginnis - September 16, 2012

Sorry about the gub. I do like the line about no one teaching us how to deal with middle age. I would also be a lot happier if anyone in my family ever lived to be 110.

2. martincraig - September 16, 2012

When I had dental work done under general anaesthetic as a kid, I had a horrible nightmare about guided missiles coming over our house in slow motion, wave after wave, while my mother screamed “Oh no, it’s WAR!” and ran off, leaving me to my dreamtime fate and a lifetime of slight insecurity about the loyalty of people close to me.

I mention this because I felt it wasn’t fair to let you self-disclose whilst under the influence of medication without at least expressing some solidarity. The alternative would have been to say, “Speak for yourself mate, I’m doing fine. Mine’s a double. Yeah, that’s my Maserati 3500GT outside. Cheers!”

Having said that, if you actually DO have a 24 year old love goddess, then YOU’RE DOING FINE AND I TAKE ALL OF THIS BACK.

markswill - September 17, 2012

She not 24.

3. Andy Tribble - September 17, 2012

I am about the same age, Mark, and events in my own life have taught me sharply that time is limited and you should do what you want to do absolutely now. The young can do stuff like staying at school, or in college, or going to work in an office, because they have to build up a career and the rewards for getting their head down will come later. Which is generally true. But as you get over the curve of 50 you must understand that whatever career you were going to have you now have, or had, and there’s no point in waiting for it to turn upwards by magic. So stop wasting time and don’t for gods sake take up golf or gardening or propping up the saloon bar. Also your fitness is going off and if you wait much longer you won’t have the energy to do an epic bike trip or hitch up with that 24 year old (or even a person the same age with a wicked sparkle in his/her eye). As a lifelong biker I used to mock those bods who at the age of 50 suddenly buy a Harley. But now I apologise and I say welcome aboard, you finally did the right thing, should have done it when you were 17 but never mind you’re here now. Of course this carpe diem lightning flash is destructive of social stability and I seem to be surrounded by exploding marriages among my generation, but it seems we refuse to be literally bored to death.

markswill - September 17, 2012

Much of what you say is true Andy, although I am still waiting for “the rewards” of toil and application to materialise. And you’re right about the collapsing marriages, but that always was an institution I found wanting both in theory and practice. Ditto Harleys” not much wrong with turning to machinery in response to a mid-life crisis, but I’d rather have a Ducati or Laverda… a ‘proper’ motorcycle in other words.

4. Linda Stokes - September 17, 2012

Sigh….Its all true.. …and like puberty…there’s no way to prepare, or stave it off..
I’ve been thinking about becoming one of the aging homeless that live cruise-ship to cruise-ship… but its looking
pricey… and have you noticed how time is speeding up, as well..?

That’s one reason I like to shoot sunrise and sunset, so I can convince myself another entire day has passed again, in what seemed like a couple of hours..
. I’m typing in bed, too… a long flight got my sciatica all inflamed…

markswill - September 17, 2012

Thanks for this cosmic reassurance professor, and for those unaware of Linda’s all-round excellence, especially as a photographer, check out her FarceBerk pages (and you know how much it pains me to recommend anything to do with the execrable FB)

markswill - September 19, 2012

Actually professor, I have a couple of friends who are getting dangerously close to living the rest of their lives aboard cruise ships. They seem to love it and claim disassociation from the ignorant blue-rinsed hordes is relatively easy. Personally, if I had the money I’d prefer a modest shack on a Caribbean island, although getting decent healthcare in one’s declining years – like now – would be a problem…

Sciatica, huh? You never told me about that but I had it for a while until acupuncture cured it forever. But as a leading medical practitioner I’m sure you knew that.

Frank W - October 23, 2012

It’s true. After a couple of months agloat on said much-derided crooze ships this year I can heartily recommend it. A Tip, though: don’t do the cheap lines and don’t do the cheap seats. Two months on the Staten Island ferry would be groovy in comparison to that. Suites with P&O come with a butler, which is bloody fine and removes all obligation to deal with the ballast … erm … fellow passengers. Cunard do even posher stuff, of course (get them to show you the vast treble-suite on QM2 which is permanantly reserved for the Noo Yawkers who — apparently — own it. It’s usually empty, too. That, Mr Mark is wealth.
Feb next year, then. A month agloat. Will send more irritating postcards from irrlevant places…

5. cyclepalestine - September 17, 2012

Investing in a 24 year old sex goddess would probably have been a more rewarding investment- with the rejuvenating effects well documented. . But a more immediate, and less expensive, means of regaining one’s youth is to spend an evening at the Chelsea Arts Club where everyone is at least 95 years old- or appears to be so. There you can feel pike a youngster again As old folks homes go it’s rather charming and the food is Superior. But there is, I have to say, a distinct lack of 24 year old sex goddesses.

markswill - September 19, 2012

I LOVE Chelsea Arts Club George, especially the cheap wine. Oddly enough the last time I was there so too was Rock God Robert Plant, and he’s nowhere near 95 years-old (is he?). And I was of course lying about my 24 year-old sex goddess: she’s a little older than that.

George Snow - September 19, 2012

We all love the Chelsea Arts Club for the reasons I mention. As for Robert Plant I’ve heard him described as a dinosaur. That surely dates him. (65 million years I believe.) The next time you see him at the Club check his teeth. A real give-away.

6. cyclepalestine - September 17, 2012

A 24 year old sex goddess is probably a more rewarding investment- the rejuvenating effects being well documented. However for a quick fix for feeling young again spend an evening at the Chelsea Arts Club where the average age of members is about 106. As an old people’s home there’s non finer- and the restaurant is outstanding. Give it a try. It’s so envigorating to be the junior in the class. The downside is there are no attractive nurses and 24 year old sex goddesses are in short supply.

7. George Snow - September 17, 2012

The above ‘Cycle palestine’ credit actually belongs to me- George Snow. Bloody technology.

8. paulblez - September 17, 2012

Another great blog Mark (apart from your misuse of “sic.”, in common with hordes of others). Commiserations on the state of your gnashers. Ironically, I wandered the earth for about a decade with a huge gap in my smile because I couldn’t afford a private dentist to do me a new crown, only to find a dentist prepared to do the whole job on the NHS. (Inevitably, she went private soon after!).
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Goodwood Revival for renewing your faith in growing old disgracefully and carrying on riding and driving fast well into old age. The best car racing you will ever see and this year, the stirring sight of ex WSB champ Troy Corser riding the wheels off a 1936 BMW with no rear suspension. The icing on the cake was the tribute to Dan Gurney, still going strong at 81, even if Lord March somehow failed to mention the Gurney Alligator FF motorcycle in his stirring speech about America’s greatest car racer/designer/builder.
I swear I had as much fun riding the 111mph BMW C600Sport superscooter there and back on Saturday and Sunday as I have on any bike I’ve ever ridden down the A283/285 – and quicker too. Far more sensible than a Ducati, or Lord Preserve Us, a denture-rattling Laverda, particularly at your advanced age Mark! Get yourself a test ride ASAP and discover the joys of ton-up twist’n’go excitement! 😉

markswill - September 17, 2012

Oooh you are a caution Blez. Only you would take the venerable Lord to task for failing to mention an obscure vehicle, but then virtually only you would know about it! As for “twist’n’go excitement”, well I’ve had a bit of that on my succession of battered scooters, each of which was stolen and/or vandalised on London’s gold-paved streets. The big Beemer is also simply too rich for me, mainly because I’m not rich.

Paul Blezard - September 18, 2012

I really don’t think the Gurney Alligators count as ‘obscure’ Mark! See: http://www.allamericanracers.com/alligator/alligator_history.html
I know for a fact that you’ve never had the pleasure of exceeding the ton on a T&G, and it’s high time that you did. I didn’t say anything about buying a BMW maxiscoot, just take one for a test ride and be amazed!

9. paulblez - September 17, 2012

PS I tried searching FaceBerk for Linda Stokes and there don’t appear to be any. What is Prof Stokes’ nom-de-visage-livre?

10. RussellH - September 17, 2012

Certain Martin Amiss characters have a lot to say about sex and teeth, and your own anxieties are entirely understandable, if probably unfounded. Of course, there was a time when a suitor’s gift to his prospective bride could be a trip to the dentist for her to have them all out and replaced with removable replacements – no doubt this was a nudge to a more accommodating arrangement for his own gratification, but one can only wonder about the spirit in which this generous gesture was received.

markswill - September 17, 2012

Yeah, but Amis is (a lot) richer than thee and me Russ. As for the “accommodating arrangements” for one’s own gratification, well if I was gay….? And of course you’re right about the drugs, but those of my choice are no longer good for me, or even tolerable, sadly.

11. RussellH - September 17, 2012

. . . . and I do urge you not to neglect the drug abuse altogether

markswill - September 19, 2012

At the moment I AM embracing drug abuse wholeheartedly Russell, mainly to try and assuage the bloody oral pain after the tooth extractions. But you just can’t get DF118s anymore so I’m having to make do with Co-Codomol – prescription strength.

12. WTK - September 17, 2012

I’ve read the comments and Mark I think you have it all wrong. Live your life in reverse as I am doing. I’ll be 65 in January and I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, and I hope more to come. Get your teeth replaced so you can eat painlessly, keep trim, and chase after women. That’s about all you need. You see, living in reverse order is like a reverse mortgage—I am in the process of losing all my money and will just have to start something new to replace it. As W.C. Fields said, “I spent half my money on whisky, women, and gambling, and the other half I wasted.”

13. RussellH - September 17, 2012

They were never good for us Mark, as the chickens currently coming roost ways are testament, but the fun (and the occasional heartbreak) can’t be untangled from our lives at this point, so they deserve the occasional respectful nod even now. And the addiction that will ultimately kill me – bloody cigarettes! How terribly banal is that, after all our flings with the big bad boys. But hey, what you gonna do . . . (as WTK says getting your teeth fixed whatever way you can is definitely worth it).

14. Linda Stokes - September 17, 2012

thanks much for the thumbs up babe, hope you’re way better today.
this usually werks better than FB The comments here are as much a hoot as the blog… well, almost…


Paul Blezard - September 18, 2012

Great photos, Prof! Thanks for the link.

Linda Stokes - September 19, 2012

Paul Blezard ,Thank you much…and your stuff is very interesting… love to hang out of that Eco and shoot!

15. Prosper Keating - September 18, 2012

Lethally accurate remarks about The Observer, that apply to the majority of broadsheets in general. And don’t worry about the dentures: some of the sexiest male icons in history had them.

markswill - September 19, 2012

Really Prosper – who? Middle-age needs to know?

16. julesbollocks - September 18, 2012

There is a direct correlation to age and how much conversation is dedicated to illness- by the time we hit old age 80% of all conversation is health related or about who has died. A new study is looking into how many posts on a blog dedicated to health is a guide to the bloggers age.

markswill - September 19, 2012

And which “new study” would that be, Jules? One undertaken by yrgdslf. perhaps?! (You’re probably right in your assumption though). I of course am 79 years-old… but you suspected that, didn’t you?

17. Prosper Keating - September 19, 2012

Um…Clark Gable, Winston Churchill, Dennis Waterman, Roger Livesey, Paul Newman, Lou Reed, David Bowie. Probably.

18. Prosper Keating - September 19, 2012

As an aside, I was broken in by one of the last women to see Glenn Miller alive. She had dentures, which she plopped into a glass of Steradent by the bedside, and she was sexy. You just have to keep them clean – unlike Clark Gable who was said to wither dandelions at ten feet – and glue them in. Otherwise you risk losing them down the lavatory, like my uncle Paddy, whose chompers flew out as he was shouting back at my aunt whilst trying to do up his buttons and pull the chain at the same time. We got them back by opening the drain cover at the end of their street and stretching one of auntie’s stockings across the conduit. A quick rub on his shirt tail and Uncle Paddy’s three-guinea smile was restored. Auntie was busting his balls because he had an eye for the girls and they had an eye for him, even though he was over eighty. But then, he taught me the first rule of staying sharp: avoid the need for a mirror to see your family jewels. Dentures are irrelevant. Staying in shape is relevant.

markswill - September 19, 2012

Fascinating! Even if not true (but I rather hope it is/was).

19. mikki rain - September 28, 2012

Eleven teeth!!! basing my calculations on my recent dental work that will cost you £33,000 and thats presuming you don’t require a sinus lift like I did which bumps it up further. Looking forward to comparing dental work and swopping tales of suffering! but its worth considering what else 33k would buy you before you commit!!!!

markswill - October 1, 2012

Well Ms. M, I’m not having implants and even if I was, three grand each is a LOT more than I was quoted, especially in Hungary. (£995 apiece at the Brighton implant Centre, £675 in Hungary). As for exactly what I have and am having done, well that’s more of a private conversation… unless I really run out of ideas for my next blog, which of course is entirely likely.

20. Steve Summerell - October 20, 2012

Mark – I love your prose, man – and have done ever since those first Bike magazines. Your writing has a timeless quality – truly brilliant. I hope by now the pain has passed re. the dental extractions. P.S. – I know you love the Dukes and the Laverdas, but can I suggest a daughter of the Rising Sun – my Yam Fazer Thou’ puts a smile on my face every time I ride it! Intoxicating rev-happy engine and a sweet chassis.

All the best!

markswill - October 22, 2012

Thanks for the undue flattery Mr Summererell, and yes, the dental pain has passed and now I’m just living with what feels like someone else’s (Very) loose teeth in my gob. As for the Fazer, well if it puts a smile on your face, who am I to question its shortcomings…? Oh, and I’m still scribbling, mainly a column and features in Classic Mechanics.

21. Dave F - October 29, 2012

Watch out for gum recession once the teeth have been whipped out, you could have had implants whacked in as soon as they were pulled (though doing one or two at a time would have been more civilised) but would have to wait for them to bond before putting teeth atop them but your gums would not have shrunk. NHS is useless for anything modern, won’t even do bridges. And some of the cheap UK implant clinics are cowboys who will insist on doing more work than necessary.

All your own fault for enjoying all those drugs with little thought to the future.

markswill - October 29, 2012

Hi Dave,
I take all your points – except the last one! – but I’m not actually having implants, just hi-tech cobalt steel mini-dentures which clip onto remaining teeth. Horrid business nonetheless.

22. Paul Blezard - October 29, 2012

I can give a supporting vote for the Fazer 1,000, Mark, having thrashed one round the Brno GP circuit with great enjoyment a couple of years ago. Likewise the Fazer 600. The late, great Keith Duckworth (of Cosworth fame) liked his friend’s FZ600 so much that he swapped it for one of his own bikes; the GTS 1000 IIRC. To me, the Fazer 600 was like a little jewel of a thing; so fast to rev, so easy to ride fast.

markswill - October 29, 2012

Fair point Blez, or at least you’re entitled to your informed opinion – something that’s never bothered me. And personally, I’d swop a pair of roller skates for a GTS1000…! Mind you, my CBX750F is “so fast to rev, so easy to ride fast”, and it’s 27 years-old !

Paul Blezard - October 29, 2012

FWIW I was a big fan of the GTS 1000. One of the best bikes I’ve ever ridden for braking into corners; just needed a bit less weight and a bit more power (and a lower price, natch). I’ll bet you Jorge Lorenzo’s MotoGP championship winner to a bent Kwakazappi 500 triple that a Fazer 600 would ride rings around your CBX 750 on a twisty road, with far better brakes to boot. Almost certainly faster in a straight line too! 😉 I would like to see you roller skating, mind!

martincraig - October 29, 2012

Steady on boys. You’d have to factor in rider skills, condition of the older bike’s brakes & suspension etc. Now put your willies away before this becomes a chicken run – and THERE’S a mixed metaphor for you.

23. Round rock dentist - November 6, 2012

Great blog sharing useful information about dentistry.

24. Drmysse - December 13, 2012

It’s a Very informative article , all the information’s are given very clearly.I really appreciated with it, I will bookmark this site.Thanks for sharing.

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