Friday, 7 January 2011

Old fashioned remedies

I have been ill for several weeks now, which is very boring. It started with the flu and progressed to a chest infection. Now, as I come out of my ‘fug’, I feel as if my ribs have been punched by someone with very sharp knuckles.

I have of course tried a range of remedies, but have discovered that Baileys is the best. I think that the Irish cream marketing team should stop trying to sell it as a sophisticated after dinner treat (as we all know it is the Babycham of liqueurs) and place it on shelves next to cough mixture. I’m convinced they would make lots more money. It should have a similar advert to Calpol but with adults sleeping instead of babies and then running around feeling much better afterwards. The voice-over could say: “Mrs T, a proper rural wife, recommends Baileys for those nasty chesty coughs.”

During my remedy seeking time I recalled some of my late Granny’s. She was born at the turn of the 1900s, came from a family of 12 siblings and was the first married woman teacher in Cheshire (she only had one child herself!)

Apparently if you had an earache then her mother would boil an onion and put it in a sock for one to hold against their head. She washed her teeth with bicarbonate of soda, used lavender for headaches and considered a warm vest to be essential.
“Eeeh, you’ll get crompus on the mar,” she’d say if she caught you without one in winter.

“Feed a cold and starve a fever”, she’d say.

Every morning she ate porridge, every evening she had a bottle of stout (for iron). For those times when she had a ‘funny turn’ she would take a sip from a flask of brandy in her handbag. The handbag was the size of a small suitcase and made long car journeys more pleasurable for me as I was allowed to tidy it. Inside there were:
Hairnets, hair pins, a plastic rain bonnet in a plastic pot, eau-de-cologne, bright red lipstick, face powder in a compact case with mirror, white cotton hankies, diary, leather purse, Parker pen, toffees, silk headscarf , sewing kit, silver brandy flask, horn-rimmed sunglasses and her crochet.

I was allowed to watch her get dressed in the morning, which involved a lot of huffing and puffing. She wore an amazing bra that had about half a dozen hooks at the back and was built like armour. Her thermal vest went over the top. Her French knickers were made out of a similar fabric to airtex and on top she wore a girdle. Attached to this, with metal clips, were her suspenders, which held up support stockings. They simply don’t make underwear like it anymore.
Then came a full-length petticoat and then finally a smart easy-care dress or a two-piece suit, leather brogues and then her jewellery (gold watch and necklace).

Finally, a top tip for those who are on a tight budget after Christmas, she would exfoliate by using a rough towel.

My dearest has a really bad topical remedy for acne – turmeric. It is effective, but stains the skin for a few days and has unfortunately been tried out on one of daughters!!

My favourite remedy of all (for every kind of illness) is a pair of baggy pyjamas along with a duvet, hot Ribenna and the kind of book that you would never tell anyone you had read for fear they would think you half illiterate (these can be found in most supermarkets). I have read the most naff books imaginable over the last few weeks. My granny would be dismayed, no doubt. I have her collection of Dickens and Thomas Hardy but somehow they aren’t quite the balsam for a fevered brain.

So having beaten the bug with Baileys, I am going to attempt my first braising walk in the morning and in memory of my granny I shall wear a vest.

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