Teeth and rifles – not a good combination.

blogging a book


This is another episode in the “blogging a book” project where I publish one post a week about my adventures and experiences in Africa. The idea behind the project is that a goal of writing a full length book is a huge task. One that stops most people ever starting. I have been thinking about it for years. When I read in Social Media Examiner, that most bloggers create enough content for at least one book every year, it inspired me to use the system to create my first full length book. Another big advantage is that I do not have to worry about the structure of the book or sequence while I am writing. I can just write posts as individual short stories and then edit them into a book later. The big thing is that every week I am getting words written, instead of still thinking about how to start writing the book.

This episode was motivated by yet another dental appointment yesterday. I have written before how a side effect of the medicines  I take since a heart attack, have caused my teeth to decay rapidly. Rather than spend the equivalent of a new medium-sized car on complicated restoration work, (with no guarantee that it would last) I chose to have most of my teeth extracted and dentures fitted. I am discovering that is a long and complicated process too.

While sitting in the chair having these strange tasting acrylic plates inserted into my mouth, checked for fit, removed, adjusted and re-inserted, I remembered the incident back in the 1970’s when  a fellow soldier broke two teeth in separate but identical incidents.

We were at a bush base camp during the Rhodesian terrorist war, somewhere in the North East of the country, I can no longer remember exactly where. Because of the increasing use of land mines by the terrorists we no longer used Land Rovers, Ford F250 or any small vehicles. We only used our larger Bedford or Mercedes 5 ton trucks. All 4 wheel drive, very strong, very durable and very uncomfortable. But passengers generally survived land mine explosions with a few bruises and damaged eardrums, unlike the more serious and often fatal consequences of driving over a land mine in a lighter vehicle.

Late one afternoon, two of us were sent out as guards on a truck going to collect a patrol a few miles from camp. It was along a very rough, badly eroded track. The truck lurched badly over rocks and through potholes. The other trooper was named Dino, with a long Greek surname, a born comedian and a great guy to have around. He was sitting on the side bench of the truck with his rifle butt on the floor and the barrel vertically in front of his face. The rifle should have been pointing over the side, but the ride was so rough that we struggled to keep our balance.

The truck lurched down one particularly steep drop, we were thrown about in the back. Dino’s head went forward, the gun barrel went backwards with the flash protector making contact with one of his upper teeth and snapping it off at the gum level. He was not impressed and in some pain but had to put up with it until we got back to camp. Once there it was too dark to have him casavacced out so he took some pain killers and spent an uncomfortable night. Next day he was sent back to a bigger base camp and from there back home to have the tooth fixed.

Within two days he was back, cheerful as ever. His section was away on patrol so he did guard duty around camp and was also sent out as a truck guard. Within a week, the inevitable happened. On another rough road, sitting in the same place on the same truck and holding the same rifle, he broke the same tooth on the other side of his mouth when the truck lurched over a rock.

This time it was more a large chip broken off, not the whole tooth, it was not as painful. He had to wait a week for our tour of duty to end before he could get it fixed. I saw him later, the tooth had been repaired and he was determined to be more careful in future.

Strange things happen in life, this was one of the strangest coincidences.


Peter Wright

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  2 comments for “Teeth and rifles – not a good combination.

  1. September 21, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Hi Peter.

    Thanks for sharing the painfull experience. And yes – Unfortunately, for Dino a
    little bit of pain can go a long way in terms of personal growth (and makes for
    great stories to share as well)…

  2. September 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for the comment Anton, yes my army experiences gave me a huge store of stories that I use in my writing and speaking. BTW, I visited your blog, congratulations it is good and I would encourage my readers to put it on their list of blogs to read.

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