Upset at the dentist’s

We both went out today but not together.

I had – so I believed (and still believe) – an appointment at the dentist’s at 3:30 this afternoon. Also we needed some shopping. If possible, as well as shopping and dentists, we would like to fit in our daily coffee as well! Working out how to arrange all that – and lunch – into a practicable pattern posed something of a conundrum.

We started with Tigger on her own making a mid-morning dash to fetch coffee from a coffee shop in Pentonville Road called Saint Espresso. Having coffee in the morning for once doesn’t hurt. In fact, it makes a change. The coffee is quite good, too.

Next came lunch and then I prepared for my trip to the dentist. This is where it all went wrong and left me feeling frustrated and annoyed.

Let me say that when the dentist’s appointments were arranged by phone, I wrote them down on my notepad and read them back to the receptionist for her to confirm. I say that so you will understand that I am not delusional, that the appointments were actually set.

As I hate to be late for appointments and as at the dentist’s they sometimes ask me to fill in a health form, I arrived 10 minutes early. I found the door locked. The receptionists (three if them), sitting behind a counter at the back of the reception area, made hand gestures – what was I supposed to make of that? – but made no move to admit me.

Eventually, one of them deigned to approach the door but did not open it. Instead she shouted through the crack in the door. Wearing hearing aids as I do, I find it hard enough to follow normal face to face conversation, never mind conversation through a door.

I said I had come for an appointment at 3:30 to which my interlocutor replied “You’re much too early, Come back at half-past.” Much too early? Ten minutes?

Somewhat irritated, I did go away and then I returned at exactly half-past.

Somewhat reluctantly, I thought, they let me in and asked my name and business. Then came the killer: You do not have an appointment today!

So there it was. Having been shouted at through the door and been turned away for a paltry ten minutes and having to come back, I was now told there was no appointment at all! All that coming and going was for nothing.

I was somewhat upset and resentful, to put it mildly.

I returned home, where Tigger helped me calm down, and tried to relax over a cup of tea. We will wait and see what happens next Monday when I supposedly have another appointment. I must remember not to be early!

That left the shopping. For this, rather than Tigger going to the shop in person, we fired up the trusty Chop Chop app and entered our list of 20 items. Within 30 minutes or so, came a ring on the door bell and there they were, our two bags of groceries. Shopping by remote control – it’s the modern way, don’t you know!

Isn’t it nice when things work as they’re supposed to?

Ant day

It is very warm today with hardly so much as a breeze to cool the air. This made for a somewhat oppressive atmosphere for us though it proved to be suitable conditions for another group of creatures, as we shall see.

Today was the turn of Myddelton’s to supply our coffee and as they close at 3pm on Sundays, we had to look sharp.

On the way there, I spied a familiar figure.

Man with hat
Man with hat
Photo by Tigger

We saw this gentleman and his hat on a previous occasion (see Give-away day) when I remarked favourably on his hat.

Today was rendered notable, however, by creatures other than homo sapiens, as indicated by the title. Yes, all the way to the shop and back we had to tread carefully because of the flying ants.

Winged ants, called alates, appear once a year in July or August. During a short period, when conditions are suitable, as they were today, the flying ants appear. There are both males and females, and they mingle for mating. They have only a brief time for this, hence the swarming in numbers and their seeming lack of caution around humans.

Once mating has taken place, the females chew off their wings and look for a suitable place to found their own colonies. This single mating, perhaps with several males, provides sperm for the rest of their lives.

The males, however, their job done, die within a few days.

For a more academic account of flying ants, see here.

Ant without wings
Ant without wings

The ant in the photo has already lost her wings and is therefore a mated queen. As you can imagine, photographing them is quite difficult because even though alates are larger than ordinary worker ants (and the queens are larger than the males), they are still very small from the human point of view! Not to mention fast moving!

Ant still with wings
Ant still with wings

Tigger was able to photograph this winged ant because it obligingly landed in my jacket! (Judging by its size, I think it’s a female.) Having photographed it, Tigger put it carefully on the ground so it could continue doung whatever it should do next.

Strange object in the window
Strange object in the window

Treading carefully (avoiding both people and ants!), we reached Myddelton’s. While Tigger was buying the coffee, I glanced across at Lloyd’s on the opposite corner and saw something strange in the window. I couldn’t investigate further becsuse the coffee was ready and we had to make for home.

What is it? It looks like an inflated object in the shape of a bird, perhaps a gull. What’s this doing in a hairdresser’s salon?

We may never know…


Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) 1694-1778

Voltaire was a member of the group known as les philosophes (“the philosophers”) who supported the Enlightenment. Jean Fréron was a reactionary critic who thereby attracted Voltaire’s ire.

  • Sur Fréron
  • L’autre jour, au fond d’un vallon,
  • Un serpent piqua Jean Fréron ;
  • Que pensez-vous qu’il arriva ?
  • Ce fut le serpent qui creva.
  • On Fréron
  • The other day down in a valley,
  • A snake bit Jean Fréron ;
  • What do you think happened?
  • It was the snake that snuffed it.