Oh, I don't know, Laura. Some were very effective - particularly laxatives if you had a blockage, so to speak. In fact, they were so effective that we no longer use them, at least in the same concentrations. And then there were terrific pain-killers, mostly morphine-based, freely available to all and sundry. And if you were a bit low, there were drinks and tonics with cocaine and other stimulants in them. I suppose, in the end, the authorities grew somewhat alarmed at the number of possibly addicted people with huge pupils wandering around, not making much sense. Kill-joys, some would say. My father, a pharmacist in the early 1960s, had to ban an old lady who bought about 3 bottles of Gee's Linctus a day (morphine), which was a bit sad as the poor old girl never caused any trouble, and was in tears at the deprivation. I suppose it's better now, though I do wonder if banning me from buying more than 16 Paracetamol tablets in one shop (in case I try to kill myself) - when I can easily go to no end of other shops to stock up - is really effective. And if a modern treatment is expensive, here in England, you probably won't get it. You might in Scotland, though. I think, on balance, that if you weren't really that ill, you might be able to self-medicate more easily back in 1912, but if you were really ill - you were probably stuffed.
Though it's never on display, you can still buy Gee's Linctus from pharmacies in the UK. You don't need a prescription but you might need to do a lot of coughing to convince the pharmacist that you're not a Gees Junky. The 200ml bottle contains 32mg of morphine - dissolved in squill (vinegar) so it tastes like an Aardvark's armpit. Nevertheless, good news for old ladies everywhere (no offence intended, Mon!)
OK, just tried it out at Boots the Chemist. Was denied the Gee's Linctus, though they wouldn't actually admit they didn't stock it, and got fobbed off with Benilyn. Which I didn't want or need, goodness, the money it costs to do research. Was regarded with considerable suspicion, and they looked up my computer record to satisfy themselves that I didn't usually try to buy substances they regard as dangerous,even if legal. This is quite wrong. If something is legal to be sold over-the-counter, one should not be interrogated by a juvenile pharmacist who's only just passed his/her exams. Or indeed an old one. I got the young one who obviously thought she was saving me from myself. A longer conversation about human rights and the attitude of Boots re OTC medicines made her rather less sure of herself and me rather more so. Still didn't get the Gee's Linctus, though. The other, private, chemist just sells it without any palaver. I don't know what an aardvik's armpit tastes like, so I can only say it's not too good. And, I might say, does not have any happy effects. Obviously not the same stuff now as that dear old lady used to dose herself on. What do you want me to test next?
My sources assure me that nowadays only the Boots product contains enough morphine to deliver a 'recreational' benefit - which is why it's very difficult to get them to serve the stuff. Alternative brands, clearly more easily obtained by old ladies, are diluted with more alcohol (about 4 units, which is quite good value is that's your thing). But you might still get a result if you do the research properly. That means knocking back three bottles, I believe you said?
(Sent from my mobile phone in a holding cell, Colchester Police Station):
I just tried buying three bottles at Boots, so they called in reinforcements. It's really crowded in here - me and five old ladies. Noisy too. We're having a contest to see who can cough loudest and longest.
I haven't had a chance to stop by in quite some time, and so it was quite pleasant to see that Bob and Monica are still going at it, in what is surely one of the prettiest romances since Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and Richard deVere.
Rather restful, really. Some things should always stay the same.
Years ago, Sandy, Mon and I were often mistaken for Harry Morgan and Slim Browning (for the unitiated, that's Bogie and Bacall). Over the years I've matured into Walter Brennan, but Mon's better preserved. I put it down to those three bottles of Gee's Linctus every day.
Sandy. Glad that Bob and I can reassure you that the world is not going to hell in a handcart, and that some things stay the same. He rang this morning to see if I'd make bail for him, but I said no. He can't just leave those old ladies banged up, it wouldn't be right. Re Cher .... sort of .... when I hit 40, my husband bought me a button saying "Younger than Joan Collins". I was very pleased, particularly as I am still younger than her. I get it out every birthday, but the husband is divorced now.
Never drink coffee whilst at the laptop, Sandy, just multi-task instead. I always quaff white wine and then, on the very rare occasions when Godfrey manages to make me laugh, a quick wipe cleans the monitor a treat.
Monica: It is not possible for Americans to do without coffee. The actions of our Congress leave us constantly shaking with anger, and we need something socially acceptable on which to blame the tremor. The British habit of softening the edges a bit with white wine would have us in a constant stupor.
Sandy, if at a certain turning point in your history you'd remained loyal to tea instead of throwing it into the harbour you wouldn't now need to be drinking coffee - or getting uptight about the actions of Congress. You'd all be waving Union Jacks and cheering the Queen, speaking and spelling English proper like what we do, watching the BBC, driving on the right (ie the left) side of the road, eating jellied eels, drinking warm beer, getting high on Gee's Linctus and relieving yourselves in toilets rather than bathrooms. You had your chance and you blew it. But we might take you back into the empire if you ask nicely. And give us back a few of the things you've purloined over the years, like London Bridge. But we must insist that you keep Simon Cowell.
Don't believe all this rubbish of Bob's, Americans. None of us eats jellied eels or drinks warm beer any more, and I drink coffee (better than yours) every morning. He's tried to get me doing this sort of stuff, including sending me a Union flag in the post for waving purposes, but I ignored it, and the Gee's Linctus experiment didn't work out too well, either. Bob's favourite toilet / bathroom is one in an Edwardian pub in London where there is a bee depicted in the porcelain in the urinals in the Gents. To encourage accuracy. You guys just can't resist a target. I think this is excellent - do you have this sort of innovation Stateside?
>>You'd all be waving Union Jacks and cheering the Queen, speaking and spelling English proper like what we do, watching the BBC, driving on the right (ie the left) side of the road, eating jellied eels, drinking warm beer, getting high on Gee's Linctus and relieving yourselves in toilets rather than bathrooms.<<
That or like some of the people on your side of the pond, we would be either screaming for the abolition of the monarchy or just as passionately endorsing it.
Here are the 'Gent's' (toilets - or bathrooms if you like) in the Princess Louise pub near the British Museum, in all their tiled and marble splendour little changed from late Victorian times - some of the fittings aren't entirely original, but those massive urinals certainly are. Can't remember, Mon, whether they have aiming targets but if so the locals weren't making best use of them! Or they hadn't been cleaned since 1912.