Tony Allen: And finally... Moving targets

Feb 19 | 2021

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always cleaned my teeth before going to bed at night. This has always been a semi-religious ritual which I pride myself in never having broken. That is up until now!

Tony Allen: And finally...

Last night, after all of the trials and tribulations of the past year and in order to reward myself for my undoubted resilience, I decided to reward myself by not having to clean my bloody teeth. It was a most exhilarating dental experience. Fulfilling in fact and a brush with blessed relief (puns intended).

In retrospect, now I find that I kind of regret it. I recall a time when most people smoked and the sheer perdition in trying to give up this vile habit. Two weeks without a cigarette. I’ll just have the one. Lovely! Blast! Now I can’t say I’ve gone for two weeks without smoking, I’ve got to start again. Anyway, at least I’ve still got my own teeth.

This reminds me of an aged uncle of mine, who once remarked that he still had all of his own teeth – and then added that they were in a tin which he kept in a draw by the side of his bed.

Having a mind that exists with a waste bin full of recyclable anecdotes, I must tell you a story which relates to the aforementioned late Uncle Charlie who one day departed for the dentist after having been measured for his first full set of false teeth two weeks earlier. Upon his return he seemed to have a rather broad beaming toothy grin on his face and the family naturally put this down to the fact that he was delighted with his sparkling new set of dentures. His look of extreme delight continued throughout the afternoon, but slowly the toothy grin was morphing into a rather disturbing and lecherous grimace. In addition, when he spoke it seemed as if his words were accompanied by a sound rather redolent of water disappearing down a large plug hole.

Finally it was time for tea and it was then that my uncle announced to the family that, not only could he not open his mouth - at least that’s what they thought he said – but also he could not close it either. As a consequence he then ceremoniously removed his teeth and sucked the rest of his meal, resolving to revisit the dentist the next day. Which he duly did.

Yes, you’ve maybe deduced, it turned out that they’d given him somebody else’s teeth and these were far too big for him. The mistake was subsequently rectified and after a few biting comments, life returned to normal. Although I must add that, luckily, Uncle Charlie had a great sense of humour and took great delight in retelling his certainly not apocryphal experience. I’m actually laughing to myself as I write!

The British comedian Tommy Cooper used to say: “Here’s a funny joke, I can’t wait to hear it myself!” and it’s a bit like that when I write one of these articles. Sometimes it’s like heading into the unknown and letting one’s mind travel down a sinuous path. I started off with the intention of talking about targets that we set ourselves and how sometimes we can suffer through our ostensible failure to meet what are no more than arbitrary calculations … and then Uncle Charlie got in the way. Thank goodness for that I hear you say.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with setting targets from a business point of view, in fact they are essential. The same thing applies with sport and personal fitness in general, we have to set personal goals otherwise the whole process becomes somewhat meaningless. Sometimes, however, we can produce unnecessary problems for ourselves:

I’m going to be a Company Director by the time I’m 35 - I’m 36 and I’m not a Company Director, I’ve failed! Who says so? I do! Who set the target? I did!

See what I mean? A totally unnecessary self-induced feeling of having let one’s self down.

All I’m saying is that goals are fine but don’t use them as a means of ‘beating yourself up’. Goals can be essential towards accomplishing the end result, but in my opinion it’s much better to have ambitions. These are important, but just don’t think they are always going to be achievable.

Perhaps the best way is to create a list of things which you would like to achieve during your lifetime. I think this is commonly called a ‘bucket list’. But don’t get upset if you don’t achieve them all and don’t include impossible dreams, these are best left to your imagination.

Thinking about it, I might even have a go at this myself … first item: get myself a bucket!