Thursday 2 September 2010

Common cures for the common cold

Barry is sneezing heartily again. He says it's hay-fever but I think he's developed an allergy to me. All through the night he is fine, sleeping soundly, snoring loudly, separated from me by a couple of dogs. In the morning as soon as he comes anywhere near me the sneezing starts. It subsides when he goes into another room and resumes when he rejoins me. I suppose it's a new angle on familiarity breeding contempt. It's all right though - I'd rather be an irritant than contemptible.

If he were afflicted by the common cold there are many remedies I might apply. Analgesics, patent cold cures – well, they're not cures, of course. Only time cures colds; the old saying, 'Three days coming, three days staying, three days going' holds true today as much as it ever did. Colds are not fashionable or serious enough to be called by such a common name – today everyone has 'flu. That's so much more impressive – it can kill! – so it's pretty amazing how many people contract it and recover in less than a week. Really tough cookies, obviously. Some people have 'flu several times a year – they vary mainly in which part of the body they attack. No-one is ever sick from over-indulgence or a dodgy curry – it's always 'gastric 'flu'. 
Image courtesy of Ingram Publishing
The Grim Reaper must get really weary of hauling his scythe round to these stalwart serial sufferers. I can just hear him muttering, ''Flu's not what it used to be. Bring back the 1918 Spanish 'flu. I'll be out of a job soon, condemned to wander the lonely realm of the has-beens.' (He tends to exaggerate, poor ghoul.)

Lewes Bonfire Night, Grim Reaper and Devil on parade!
Photo courtesy of Andrew Dunn 

Nonetheless, cold or 'flu, simple medication may help to stave off or at least alleviate the worst of the symptoms. Beecham's powders and Lemsip spring readily to mind, though Barry favours a hot toddy of hot milk, whisky and honey. He doesn't even have to have a cold!

My son-in-law usually doses himself with Lemsip. He was staying with us one Christmas and a cold was threatening. I usually have a pharmacy of medicines, both human and animal, but on this occasion there were no Lemsips to be found, nor even a Beecham's powder. Considering myself reasonably resourceful I decided to concoct my own remedy. I didn't take time to squeeze a lemon because I'm lazy I was in a hurry. Boiled water and honey were mixed together with lemon juice. It smelt wonderful! When it had cooled sufficiently I gave Paul some paracetamol tablets and handed the home-made treatment to him and he obediently took a draught. We watched in alarm as he started spluttering and coughing and his face turned red. When he was able to draw breath again he said, 'What did you put in that?'

I went through the ingredients and only when I reached the lemon juice did I realise my mistake. For a start, the amount I put in was probably equivalent to the juice of two lemons – or it would have been, but I had used concentrated juice. No wonder the poor man choked. After many grovelling apologies – I do good grovelling, lots of practice, you see – I made him a nice cup of tea! The mere mention of Lemsip now is enough to send me into convulsions of giggles.

Kill or cure, that's my motto!


  1. Poor son in law - hope he recovered quickly from both his ailment and your nursing! I agree with you that folk seem to get the 'flu much more these days. I am lucky in that I rarely get a cold, much to the chagrin of my husband who DOES SUFFER, frequently! A

  2. "Seven days with treatment or a week without" is what we always say about colds. However, I have used it as an excuse for a hot toddy (or two) myself on occasions! I skip the milk, just Whisky, hot water and a dash of lemon juice. I have even been known to skip the water and lemon juice...teehee!
    Parhaps Barry should try wearing a mask for a trial period, and see if it makes any difference?

    Best wishes to you all, Sylvia x

  3. Last year suddenly everyone who sneezed had 'Mexican flu'. How do you know? Does your phlegm taste like guacamole?

    I'm going to make you rich! I'm going to click on one of the advertisements below. There is one that says 'Lyme Treatment Failure', and as a (hopefully former) Lyme-sufferer, I have to check that out. So I hope there is a big cheque coming your way ;-)

    Hope your sneezer has a speedy recovery, even without your lemon-drinks.

  4. Honey and lemon was what we were told as children. I still use it on occasion. It may not do any good but it's delicious and therefore comforting.

  5. I have heard that colds take seven days to end and it doesn't matter if you are taking medicine or not. Not sure I think it is true because some colds are serious and not colds at all but things like pneumonia. I wouldn't want to wait too long on that to end on its own.

  6. OOPS! I'm glad he didn't drink too much of it! You were smart to make him a good cup of tea afterward or he might have thought you were trying to do him in! Your tale made me chuckle. :)

  7. I am new here! Would love for you to come visit me too :)

    Have a great day!


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