Dry Mouth And Sinking Stomach - Photographer V Dentist

Posted at 10:15am on 29th July 2008

Dry mouth and sinking stomach.

‘Without wishing to cast aspersions on your profession,’ I said to the photographer, ‘I should tell you that as far as I’m concerned, having my photograph taken is akin to having teeth pulled.’

Actually, I’ve never had teeth pulled – but the sensations I experienced as my sitting room was invaded by lights and little white umbrellas, was exactly what I imagined my husband must have been through a month ago when he had to have a tooth extracted. He, needless to say, thought my assumption a gross exaggeration. Which, in turn, I thought showed him to be lacking in sympathy or understanding!

Dry mouth and sinking stomach. The photo shoot was to support a magazine feature about my new book, A Painful Post Mortem, so I could hardly pull a sickie and refuse to take part. Besides, I am not a quitter! I recently went down (into?) the electric mountain – the largest hydro-electric plant in Europe – whilst holidaying with my husband. Despite the fact that I suffer from claustrophobia. Pretty brave, I thought myself as we boarded the bus that would take us deep underground, through a labyrinth of tunnels, into a chamber large enough to house St Paul’s Cathedral.

Pretty stupid, I thought, standing only yards from the giant turbine revolving at high speed with an ear-splitting din. But I refused to allow myself to think of the 1,540 million gallons of water plunging from the lake overhead to drive the plant, the honeycomb effect of 15 kilometres of tunnelling inside the mountain, or the damage that either might inflict on me and my fellow tourists. Pretty stubborn, I thought as my heart raced, my breathing grew fast and shallow, and I felt myself sway.

Dry mouth and sinking stomach. Click, click. Click, click. It’s pathetic, isn’t it? This nice man, face screwed up, eye pressed to a lens, is doing his level best to earn an honest crust; to put me at ease; to make me appear at least half-way human, so that the magazine will employ him again. And what, I ask myselfwith severe tones, is there to put me at ease about? It isn’t a gun he has pointed at me. Nor a spying telescope. Nor a taser. Nor a laser.

Click, click. Click, click. In the end, it’s a doddle. We decide, Mr Nice Photographer, Miss Magazine Editor and I, that soft focus, part obscured shots will add some mystery to the picture. The novel, after all, is something of a mystery: a sort of ‘who-dun-it?’ following a death in suspicious circumstances. I can’t wait to see whether the soft focus will have concealed the double chins that are the result of my uptight, dry-mouthed smile. Or if the obscure angle of the shot has disguised the bat-wing upper arms and cellulite.

Broad grin and happy heart-swell as I wave the photographer goodbye. Now, I think, saliva flooding my mouth as I anticipate lunch, I can change out of my posh frock, and back into my comfortable granny-clothes – just in time to collect the twins from nursery. I told you: I’m no quitter!

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