By habit, my wife and I take a short holiday each year between Christmas and New Year. As we live in Switzerland we are spoilt by close locations where we can spend 3 or 4 days. Paris, Milan, Zurich, Vienna or Venice. An endless and enviable choice for sure.
However for some reason that can only be related to Murphy and Sod, each year between 26th and 31st December, something happens to throw a spanner in our holiday festivity and enjoyment. A cold, winter flu, lost luggage or one of a hundred other little annoyances that can spoil a holiday. This year though has been the crème de la crème of spoilt holidays. A simple three days of cultural delights in Basel started before it began with my wife launching into a full blown attack of vomiting, diarrhea, shivers, sweating and trembling the morning before we were due to leave.
My caring and sympathy lasted only until I was attacked with the symptoms that evening. The following day we dragged our limp excuses for bodies off to Basel in the hope that things could only improve. Things did improve. For a very short while unfortunately. During dinner, my wife announced to me that she had experienced a sudden cracking sound from the region of a lower molar. On a quick tongue inspection, she was able to confirm that indeed her tooth had split neatly into two dangling pieces. Wobbling rather irritatingly in her gum.
The waiter must have thought we did not like the food by the rush we made to get the bill, pay and flea the restaurant for our hotel. As it was now 9.30 pm we felt there was little hope of finding an all night dentist in Basel, so we returned to the hotel and asked at the desk. By sheer good luck, he informed us that there was indeed a dentist in the railway station opposite our hotel and it would be open in the morning at 9.00 am. My wife only need endure one very painful night. Another stoke of luck came the next morning. The dentist’s receptionist insisted that without an appointment there was no chance of seeing the dentist. But my wife is made of tougher stuff than that. She stood her ground, made a lot of whimpering noises and painful pointing at her tooth.
As the receptionist only spoke German and my wife only French and English, you can imaging the effort that was needed to throw a tantrum in a language not understood by the receiving end of the tantrum. Finally the receptionist retreated to find someone who spoke English. It was the dentist! Who immediately took my wife to his chair for a check. That was the good news. The bad news was the long and painful extraction that was necessary. Two hours later, bloodied, bruised, traumatised and numb, my wife emerged from the surgery. Very pale. Somehow, and don’t ask me from where, my wife summoned up the courage to want to visit our prime target of our holiday later in the afternoon. The Beyeler Foundation. An incredible collection of Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Pollock, Warhol and Picasso, among others.
Truly sore and sorry by the time we returned to our hotel, but she had used all her courage by then. Time for soup and a quiet night in. It is late evening as I write, and we are hoping for better luck tomorrow. I am not so sure though. At the moment there is a nasty cold sore festering its way into existence on the right side of my bottom lip. Irritatingly just under the first hairs of my beard. It is obviously in communication with what would normally be a rather small and insignificant gland in my neck, but is now a painful lump inhibiting by ability to swallow. Unless our luck changes dramatically tomorrow, I think we might cancel our ritualistic annual festive holiday from hell from here on in.