Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why I love the UK

Bad breath has been good to me. I write these words in the lobby of the Thistle Marble Arch, near Oxford Street right next to Marble Arch and Hyde Park. I'm on my way home in a few minutes, after five days dedicated to the two-phase mouthwash which I invented and help develop, first in Israel, then in the UK. As I write, the invention (Dentyl pH) has become a hit here. One out of every five (!) mouthwash bottles sold in the UK is Dentyl pH.

I walk into drug stores all along Oxford Street, and stand beside my mouthwash bottles, admiring them as if they were some kind of progeny. No matter that I don't own the patent (the university does). No matter that the millions of people using it have no idea who invented it. The important thing is that they are improving their oral hygiene, self esteem, and social lives, rinsing and gargling with a product that I nutured for so many years, in the face of criticism and nay sayers.

The mouthwash story is one of pure luck, happenstance and chance. Louis Pasteur, one of my scientific heroes of all time, said that "Chance favors the prepared mind". If that's the case, then the only credit I can take is cherishing the unexpected. Most of the turning points in the development of this product were born out of accidents and flukey experimental results. Only very few inventions succeed in becoming products, and among those few products, most fail commercially. So the success of the mouthwash is rare indeed. And as someone with quite a few patents, and less-than-successful products, I know just how lucky I am.

I'm attaching a picture I took this afternoon of the 'baby' at a Boots store on Oxford Street.

The UK success has made me even more of an Anglophile. I love London, the Queen, the royal family (I've heard that the Queen may have a breath problem, I'd love to help her out, why doesn't she just ask me?). After all, I grew up as a British commonwealth subject in Ottawa, I collected coins displaying the Queen and her predecessors. I sang the British anthem at movies and football games. Actually as a child, I got the words wrong, thinking that the second part went:

"Send her Victoria, Happy and Gloria…"

I thought that these were the Queen's children, missing during the Second World War.

I've had a good trip, meeting reporters, explaining how the mouthwash works (at least how I think it works). This included a fancy Japanese lunch overlooking the Thames, and tea at Claridge's (including, inter alia, lavender flavored chocolate sweets, in honour of the Chelsea flower show). And an overnight train trip to Harrogate, an enchanting spa resort in Northern England.

Most important of course, as always, is meeting up with the friends I've made here over the past decade. A lovely island.

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