Budapest. I’ve been here a week now. Travel home today. Between 9am this morning in Budapest and 9am in London tomorrow morning I must write two poems, the first lasting twenty seconds and the second lasting one minute. At 9am tomorrow morning I will broadcast them to the nation on BBC Radio four’s Saturday Live. But first I make an hour long tram journey from my hotel in Buda to VitalEurope the dentist in Pest. The city is split into two halves (Buda and Pest) by the Danube. The number six tram traverses the two.
I arrive and receive the obligatory Jabs as introduction to the day. Good Morning! Lay back. NyaaaAghhh. Four jabs in total or was it five. I lost all count after the first. My bridges are added over the next hour and half to the back upper left and back upper right but the dentist noticed a wisdom tooth that had to come out. This was the most stressful job of all. It took fifteen to twenty minutes and two different plyers. His winching and wincing heavy breathing and huffing and puffing surrounded me as my head yanked from side to side. It was my top left wisdom tooth. It was medieval. The plyers stretched my mouth and cut the skin beneath my lip. All part of the service. Nice.
After the three hours I leave the dentists feeling battered bruised and traumatised . It is 1pm and I have two poems to write between now and 9am. Plus a flight, packing at the hotel and all this with the distracting backdrop of excruciating pain as the numbness wears off. Fortunately last night I got the main ideas for the poems . So at a cafe in The West
End shopping Mall in Buda I get to expand on them. No tthe teeth, the poems.
The first poem will be about the politics of football. The second poem is not as accessible… It’s about Heather Piercey a guest on the programme and daughter of William Joyce, Lord Haw Haw, the broadcaster of propaganda for The Nazis
throughout the war. He was hanged for treason in the 40’s. So my poem shall be about the deceitfulness of charming fathers and the awakening of their daughters.
Writing the poems is not unlike taking out the wisdom tooth. It hurts at times. But you got to work it and work it. Slowly the poem comes. It’s petulant. It is rooted. I don’t think about length just write it at this stage . It’s unwieldy and unclear… I have six pages of text and I can feel the poem in there waiting to be extracted…. I fold them away. I realise the tooth comparison is plain wrong. By 4pm I am back at the hotel and by six I am at the airport. The painkiller’s have worn off and the pain has truly arrived
By 8pm I am on the plane home. The cabin pressure as the flight leaves makes my gums inflame… pure pain. I arrive home at 12.30am. The messy poems are flying around my head in… in alternate rhythm to the messy pain. I am so tired I could fall down. But there is so much pain I can not sleep. I have put my alarm on for 5.30am which gives me two
and an half hours before the taxi will pick me up to take me to the bbc . . I am asleep by 2am. That’s an almost twenty hour day, two countries, 1,000 miles traversed, The beginnings of two poems, insertion of five teeth, extraction of one. Done.
Just a note here. The dentists are state of the art and brilliant. But pain is universal. The staff were brilliant and the job excellent.