Agenda: Sugababes; Cariad Lloyd; Andy Murray; restaurant reservations; twerking; flossing


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The Independent Culture

Middle-class problems: Flossing

By Marianne Levy

The dentist straightens her back and lifts her mask. "You do floss, don't you?"

This is tricky.

The infrastructure is in place, the technique mastered, and I can definitely spare the necessary 17 seconds. Nonetheless, I don't.

"I do, yes."

The dentist narrows her eyes. "That's strange, because your gums are quite inflamed."

I make a noise intended to express unguilty concern. As my mouth is packed with cotton wool, I sound like a dying seagull.

"So," she says, "I recommend that you start… I mean, continue flossing. Twice a day. Now sit up and rinse.'

"Yes," I splutter. "I will very much continue doing that. Thank you."

Of course, I won't. Because, like many of my middle-class contemporaries, I nod and smile as highly trained medical professionals tell me how to help myself, then carry on exactly as I always have. I know the benefit of flossing – having teeth that stay painlessly attached to my jaw – far outweighs the microscopic inconvenience of having to do it.

Yet, as with eating fruit and veg and doing any kind of exercise, somehow my good intentions fail to translate into action. Whole government departments have been set up to nag people like me, hell-bent on destroying our bodies with smug inertia. It's embarrassing, or at least, it would be, if only we'd acknowledge that their advice is in any way personal.

Still, at least I never drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. And anyone who says otherwise is, um, right.