I was back in a waiting room again last friday. This time it was at a dentist’s surgery in the main shopping centre. I had arrived earlyish having left home at the crack of dawn to avoid the traffic nightmares that have become a way of life. To be honest I liked going there just a bit earlier than my appointment because I could sit in the warm waiting room take a short time to study my co defendants and then move slowly to the small bookcase and retrieve my favourite book; The Thames: a photographic journey.

In this wonderful book the author goes right to the source of this famous river to map a slow and leisurely boat journey down the river detailing the history of the many towns and cities that the river flows by on its meandering way to the sea. He points to a bridge here or a lock there and even a famous Inn like the Rose Revived; There is a wealth of history here, a fascinating read. I readily confess that I am mad about rivers, lakes and seas and all things maritime so you can imagine my delight when my better half arranged a day trip down the Thames on a steamer boat at the end of August 2 years ago. We would go from Marlow to Henley-on-Thames and we would also be calling at the Queens favourite home, Windsor castle.

The day trips are arranged by her work place and they are very popular. The previous year, 2005 we went to visit Lord Nelson’s battleship HMS Victory at Portsmouth harbour. This was just at the end of the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar. History fans will know that this was the battle in which Lord Nelson defeated Napoleon’s navy but was killed by a sniper.

Our day at Portsmouth was one to remember in several other ways. As we cruised along the harbour front on a guided boat tour just after lunch the skipper announced that it had just come through on the radio that London had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic games. A great cheer went up in our little boat adding to the excitement of the afternoon. The events that would come to unfold only a few hours later were nothing to cheer about. It was of course the very next day that terror struck London in the name of al-Qaida. The bombings of seven-seven claimed the lives of 52 people and injured nearly 800. The longer term consequences are still unfolding.

Hey,…….. back to the dentist’s. As I looked at the beautiful photographs and read about old towns like Abingdon and Maidenhead and a posh school called Eton in “my” book I became aware of some kind of a commotion at the front desk. A very loud woman was swearing quite freely and her anger was directed at the receptionist.

” What the *&%%!£&* do you mean that he has been struck off. You cannot strike off my +”£%&* son. He is only four years old and he has two £$%^&* toothaches. He needs to see his dentist like now!” The little boy did not like being in the limelight now and he was jumping up and down trying to get his mothers attention. Without even looking at him she reached into her hand bag and pulled out a king size mars bar which she handed over to the lad. He sat on the floor and tore it open, aching gums forgotten.

The lady at the reception was all politeness as she explained that the boy was removed from the register for failing to turn up for treatment appointments and checkups despite numerous reminders being sent out to them. The matter was now out of their hands and the mother would have to contact a regional health office.

The furious woman did not look remotely convinced by the receptionist’s explanation. Without saying another word she grabbed her son and marched him out of the surgery. I am sure that I was not alone trying to work that one out. A health professional sending away a patient at their moment of need……but then again strange things always happened in the waiting room.