The October Meeting 2019.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
John began his talk by telling us that he had given quite a few talks over the years and the one question which was always asked was why did you want to become a dentist? He always found it a difficult one to answer as he could hardly say that he always wanted to pull peoples teeth out from an early age. It was far easier to say he wanted to become a doctor and heal people or find positive reasons for joining any other body of professional people. In fact he had not given too much thought as a youngster to how he wanted to earn a living, however one life influencing experience did serve as a guide to his future.
At school he was in the naval section of the cadet force and spent time at the annual camp on the submarine depot ship in Devenport Dockyard. He was woken one morning by the Chief Petty Officer at 6.30 am, having spent a restless night sleeping in a hammock, and made to go for a healthy run, in freezing weather, round the dockyard in gym kit. Later in the day, when given cleaning duties, he saw through the porthole his C O relaxing in the wardroom and drinking hot coffee. This life changing experience made him decide, there and then, that if he ever joined the Services he would make sure it would be as an officer.
Later in the sixth form at school his father asked what he planned to do in life and as he had not given the matter much thought his father suggested he became a lawyer or a dentist. Leaving school he went to the Portsmouth Technical College where he completed his O levels and then the required A levels and subsequently read Dentistry at Birmingham University, qualifying in 1959. After a brief spell in general practice on the Isle of Wight he then entered the School Dental Service before gaining a house job at the Royal Dental Hospital where he met his future wife Daphne. Completing a spell of National Service he returned to the navy where he served at the Portsmouth Naval Barracks which required much marching and fire drill and then to the Royal Marines in Deal where he became, at the insistence of the Commanding Officer, a member of the Choir.
While serving in Malta he was held up by Archbishop Gonzi travelling in his car while en route to the Cathedral matins service in Valetta. Cruising in the Adriatic at the fleet regatta he had an accident in Venice and only saw one patient on the ship but ran a clinic for families in Sliema the landlady of his flat being the Most Noble Baroness Testtaforata Moroni Viani.
Leaving the navy he joined, as a partner, a dental practice in Plymouth and later opened a surgery in Liskeard which he ran with his wife. Here he was asked by an inquiring farmer if she was strong enough to take a tooth out and replied that she was capable as she had just pulled the gear lever out of her car! Another item of interest concerned the mother who wondered about the effect of the contraceptive jelly used by her daughter to clean her teeth. He was able to assure the mother that it would do no harm to the daughters teeth but to think about the consequences if she, the mother had inadvertently used the toothpaste instead of the contraceptive jelly.
He subsequently became involved with committee work both at local and national levels, where he met fellow Probus member Michael Frazer, and also with the media appearing on local radio and television.
On retirement he took up sailing and golf and joined the Probus Club in Plymouth and the family has subsequently downsized to Kew. He has since joined the Probus Club of Twickenham.
The Dentures of the Borough Vampire by Courtesy of Barry Buttenshaw
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