"Does the dentist speak English well?" I asked of a man as hairless as Patrick Stewart of Star Wars. Looked like him too.
"Not at all," said Pierre Blanchard, gripping my hand like a lumberjack. Thus I started work as observer/translator to the dental travails of OS, my younger daughter
I decided to get on Blanchard's better side. I complimented his baroque background music even though it might have issued from a tape loop. "It's necessary to calm the teeth," he said and we both laughed at that. OS, a rock/pop fan now prone on the table of pain, wagged a sandal in disagreement.
Blanchard poked around and concluded it was the last tooth on the left-hand end of the maxillar. That I could translate. Then came something more difficult: did it make a noise when OS chewed with it? This was so alarming (What kind of noise? A squeak? A bellow?) I had difficulty conveying it to OS. Who was in any case unhelpful since the pain discouraged her from using it to chew.
The tooth was further interrogated with several power tools, one of which emitted a brilliant white light which would, I felt sure, have illuminated OS's socks - from the inside! During this session Blanchard summarised his discoveries: (a) a problem with the tooth (Bien entendu!), (b) a more general problem. I didn't fully translate the latter since it contained the word purulence - never one of my favourites.
More dentistry would be needed on OS's return to the UK, complicated by the fact that she is due at Glastonbury within forty-eight hours.
I complimented Blanchard on the well-chosen logistics of his one-man cabinet (everything neatly to hand without rising from his stool) and received his hand more cautiously. The fish tank I ignored.