Stranger things have happened

Friday May 12 2006

It happened today as I was waiting in a long queue of traffic at Washford, where they’re re-thatching a cottage right in the narrowest section of the main road, necessitating temporary traffic signals and causing chaos on the busy minor highway from Williton to Minehead.

Might have been a half-remembered tree, or a bit of a building, or a sky-shaping combination of the two. Might have been something completely mundane, like a familiar patch of road surface with an odd drain cover, stuck in my auto-pilot’s memory as a hazard to be manouvred with care. Or it might have been something entirely more spiritual, like passing over a conjunction of ley lines, actual or fancied, slowly enough to flip a switch in my muddled brain.

Whatever, it caused me to shout aloud when I came to the sudden realization: “Bloody hell,” I yelled. “I’m home.”

It wasn’t fancy, or wishful thinking. It was real. And it only took three weeks. Or thereabouts.

Now, it may be a silly thing, but I was cheered to my very core by the experience. I’ve tended to a daft smile all day since. Even woke from my afternoon siesta smiling, despite the cough.

The funny thing was that I hadn’t really planned to be there at all, and wouldn’t have been out and about at all if it hadn’t been for a tip-off from the local network that there’s a decent house to be had over at Donniford. I’d done the drive-by thing, nipped into the agent in Watchet, grabbed the details along with those of a similar house for comparison, and made an appointment to view both of them on Monday afternoon. Then, feeling peckish, I wandered down to the Harbour Café (that used to be Molly’s and isn’t now) for lunch. Decent meal, hot, and well-cooked, but strangely lacking in style. Sadly, I can’t recommend the Harbour Café any more. Try Chives. I intend to.

Then, after a saunter in the sunshine along the harbour, I piled into the car and drove off to the Minehead Tesco’s. Which is how I happened to be stuck in traffic just outside Washford.

Fortuitous, huh?

My pass by the pharmacy wasn’t too successful. The qualified pharmacist was too timid to let me have a powerful bronchial mixture in case it interfered with my statin and diuretic medications. Tried to fob me off with a low-grade expectorant.

“I can buy that in the supermarket,” I said. “And at half the price. Can’t you let me have something a bit more powerful?”

“Well,” she said. “I can give you this more traditional linctus. It has squill in it, and doesn’t taste very good, but a lot of people swear by it.”

“I’ll take it,” I said. “It’ll see me through the weekend and then, like as not, I’ll have to go see the doctor.”

Now, I know she was right. Under the timid rule system that operates these days, she was operating with perfect correctness. Except. There was a time when you could visit the local pharmacy, explain your symptoms, and obtain a specific that would almost always hit the spot. Hey ho. Might be something to do with the change of name from “chemist” to “pharmacist”, and “chemist’s shop” to “pharmacy”. Who knows?

Not all change is for the best.

No matter. The good old-fashioned squill-based linctus seems to be tackling the bronchial condition pretty well and, you never know, it might work out that it’ll help my system to clear the darned wheezy chest condition and save me, and the doctor, some time on Monday. Stranger things have happened.



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