My daughter Shannon was 14 on Friday and suggested to an appalled family circle that she would like a tongue piercing. Saying a direct no to a teenager is never a good strategy, so I found a video of the tongue piercing process on You Tube and showed it to her. Blood, saliva, pain and harpoon-sized needles. It was truly horrific and clearly should be banned under the Geneva Convention. If the US or UK troops had indulged in a little light tongue piercing at Abu Ghraib there would have been worldwide condemnation. The outrage would have toppled governments. But teenage girls are an altogether a tougher bunch. Shannon didn't bat an eyelid, just asked when she could make an appointment to have it done. I confess that the sticking of a needle into my own flesh is so far down my bucket list I would have to live for another hundred years for it to become a even remote possibility. I made the usual excuses to my daughter: what does your mother say?, your great-aunt in Australia wouldn't approve, let me sleep on it, we'll see, etc.
Then a dentist did me a huge favour. And how many of us can claim that? Shannon lost her only filling recently and had an appointment yesterday for a replacement. She was the last patient of the day and somehow the dentist did not allow enough time for the Novocaine to take effect before he went to work with his drill. The screams could be heard for miles. Back home, a very chastened daughter announced that she had had second thoughts about having her tongue pierced. And for once I'm not the bad guy.