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4:17pm on Thursday, 2nd July, 2009:

Luncheon of the Boating Party


There's a painting by Renoir called Luncheon of the Boating Party (well, Le Déjeuner des Canotiers) that I know very well. The reason I know it very well is because it's stuck to the ceiling of the dental surgery I go to.

I was there yesterday, having fillings in my two front teeth (with no anaesthetic — no pain either, though, I'm not that brave). I mentioned to the dentist that her painting was getting a little dog-eared, and suggested that she might replace it with, oh, a flat-screen TV. She then launched into a tirade complaining about the costs of dentistry, how she'd bought an upgrade to her dental software that wasn't compatible with the £8,000 worth of mouth cameras she'd got a year ago, and how she couldn't afford it.

Hmm, my other dentist (the one who handles my implant) won't put a flat screen TV on his ceiling either, although admittedly his is 2 metres further away than my regular dentist's because his surgery is in an old Victorian house whereas hers is in something so old it has a half-timbered frame.

Yesterday, though, I had an idea. Dentists could contact local artists and display their work for sale on the surgery ceiling. They would take a cut of any sales made. This would give them (yet) more income, and offer patients something to look at while they're having their incisors subjected to an ultra-violet resin-hardening gun (at least until it slips and tans their gum).

I put this to my dentist, but she didn't like the idea that it might fall down like her Boating Party picture does. I tried to explain that unlike her poster, these would not be held up with aging blu-tack, but then she started to tell me how the procedure she was about to start on my teeth was her favourite of all dental procedures and she'd been looking forward to doing it for days.

Still, it's a basically a sound idea. Maybe I could try something along similar lines with my students? I could hang paintings on the windows when I'm about to give a lecture — it's where they spend most of their time looking.

Ah, there's a flaw, though: they're students, they don't have any money to spend on paintings (just alcohol and, occasionally, food). Oh well...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).