Budgies Don’t Have Teeth But…

In a perfect example of ‘great minds think alike’ this rant, much like the esteemed Mr Chapman’s, will be dental-centric, the actual, totally real and definitive word to use when talking about gnashers. Unlike poor Adam’s plight, this is an answer to a dental hygiene problem that is sweeping the nation. The instances of tooth decay in minors (possibly miners; it was on the radio I heard the stats) has reached an epidemic level with even milk teeth having to be extracted to prevent the little darlings suffering. Sugar is the culprit, be it in solid or liquid form, which is eating its way through the nation’s youthful enamel.

Obviously, the way to stop this is to cut down the intake of sugar, simple. Not simple. Sugar is sweet, in both senses of the word, and thus highly addictive to the human palate and not an easy habit to kick. Add feckless parents and evil food producers to the recipe and you’ve got a menu for disaster; likkle wikkle pearly whites rotted black littering the bins of dentists the country over.

I have a plan.

It will be controversial with some but it comes from a place of kindness as sometimes tough love is the most beneficial form and also this system will be an instant hit with medieval information extraction re-enactment enthusiasts without a doubt. But before we get to this revolutionary system that I am already in talks with Colgate over, we need to start with a budgie.

Joey* was a budgie. A charming little yellow fellow who chirped happily as it sharpened its beak on a cuttlefish bone. Butter wouldn’t melt. You get the picture. The truth behind the façade was that Joey was a dyed in the feather psycho. We should have called him Hannibal Pecktor as he would attack like a UFC fighter on PCP at every opportunity. (Is PCP still a thing?) Funny thing was you could put your hand into his cage and he would readily hop onto your outstretched index finger, even let you pull him free of the confines of his cell…then he would commence to try and tunnel into your flesh with his recently honed facial weapon. He would dig away like a 49er who could smell a vein of gold beneath the now raw and bleeding skin.

My sisters and I were only young and obviously (or maybe not to some of you weirdos reading this) it could be quite distressing to have our pet trying to eat us every time we tried to bond with the nutter. So Dad took it upon himself to tame the savage heart by the use of pain aversion therapy, much the same way he and Mum had brought us up…actually, now I think of it, it could be down to their parenting skills I have come up with this new, brilliant idea.

Dad would let Joey jump on his finger, take the numpty out of his cage but as soon as the assault started on his digit, Dad would gently flick the back of the budgie’s head. This had the effect of making Joey pause hammering his face up and down like he had an internal soundtrack of heavy metal, and it did look like he was thinking ‘WTF?!’ for a split second. Joey would give one of those high-speed weird-ass head shakes birds do as if they’re rebooting and then commence in attack mode again. Dad would flick again. Pause. Budgie thought. Attack. Flick. Pause. Budgie thought. And so this pattern carried on, on a regular basis, until one day the unbelievable happened. Dad reached into the cage, retrieved Joey and the budgie stood calmly on the finger before fecking off as fast as his wings could carry him into the wild blue yonder. We never saw the violent avian loony again but in quiet times as I sift through my childhood memories I like to think, and I know it’s sentimental, that a cat got him. What?! You should have seen the mess the ‘should have been a duster in the first place’ bastard made of our fingers.

It could be argued that the above is not an airtight defence for the effectiveness of pain aversion therapy but if that is the case why are there still speed cameras? See, I knew that would throw you.

Pain is an effective deterrent. I once grabbed hold of the downpipe of a motorcycle’s exhaust system just after it had been on a long run…that hurt, big time. I didn’t mean to, I was pissed and trying to disconnect an HT lead but missed. However, I learnt my lesson and have never done that again…the grabbing the hot exhaust, I mean, not the getting pissed; anyone who has listened to TBP’s third podcast will know that.

I guess you all know where I’m going with this and some of you might be saying: ‘No, Sif, you can’t do this,’ and it worries me a little that you’re not all saying that. I’m not suggesting we use pain levels akin to those I felt grabbing the steaming, exquisitely blued exhaust, nor even those accompanied by a flick on the head, I wish to aim for the chewing tin foil when you’ve got fillings level of pain. Sharp, gone in an instant but clearly demonstrates a point that lodges in the subconscious.

Once a month every primary school in the land will hold an assembly and a dental practitioner will give a talk on oral hygiene on how to keep teeth clean and in good health. There could even be an informative app the kids could download and refer to at their leisure or at ‘do your teeth’ time. Then every child will come to the front of the gathering and have a brace of some kind fitted in their mouth and an electric shock administered to give them an idea what a bad tooth feels like and that would solve the problem within…actually, I’m having a better idea as I type. One that would not involve the squeamish snowflakes knitting angry lentil dreamcatchers of complaint about what could possibly be seen, by the over-sensitive, as, though totally well-meant and beneficial, torture.

Oh, yes, this is way better.

We still have the assembly and the talk and app etc. but instead of demonstrating on the pupils we use a teacher. A different one every month, though PE teachers will hit the rotation twice as often for the obvious ‘being too handy with the slipper’ reason. (Have I ever mentioned I went to school in the 70s?) Again I’m not suggesting a lot of electricity is used, somewhere between the static belt you get off a car door occasionally and ‘The Green Mile’ dry sponge spark-a-thon scene. Yes, that’s perfect. No children will feel any actual pain but the screaming, twitching adults would be a deep psychological deterrent against lazy brushing and too much sugar for sure. There will be the odd ‘wetter’, every school has them (it was never me whatever you hear) but the tarp that had been put down prior to the assembly to soak up the inevitable hysterical tears will cope with that too.

Now that I’ve taken the minors out of the equation, which I will admit even I was a little uncomfortable with, there is absolutely no reason this system isn’t put in place forthwith. And if you’re still not 100% convinced bear in mind it will save the NHS, according to my infallible calculations, £350M a week.

Sorry, the phone’s ringing, that’ll be Colgate. Can’t wait to tell them about the new tweaks they’ll bite my hand off…actually now I think about it, the bloke I’m dealing with is called Joseph. You don’t think…nah, it can’t be…but budgies can learn to talk, can’t they? Maybe I’ll ignore it…I’ll speak to Sensodyne in the morning.


*Joey was not his real name, I have used that to protect his identity because as far as I know he’s still out there and may have turned over a new leaf and become a different, more mentally balanced, bird. That or he ate someone’s face with a nice Chianti and I have no desire to get involved in anything like that.