Friday, 19 November 2010

Nanny Knows Best

Today, I have a cold. I am bunged up and am taking it like a man (skipping work and crying a lot). In a display of frankly superhuman effort, I managed to prise myself from the sofa to do 'the big shop'. I was, of course, very careful not to breathe on anyone or leave my lurgy on assorted fruits and veg.

I stocked up on various things. Firstly there were pizzas and crisps in sufficient quantity to suggest to the cashier that I was off to binge eat until I became morbidly obese. The cashier said nothing. Secondly there was enough wine to keep the town drunk happy for a fortnight, or to drink myself to death in 24 hours. Again, not even a raised eyebrow. Thirdly though, I tried to purchase two packs of 16 tablet Beechams 'Cold & Flu' and a pack of 8 Nurofen.

Klaxons went off. There were flashing lights. Navy Seals rappelled in through skylights. Attack dogs were unleashed from somewhere behind the bakery section. The long arm of the law was stretching for me. I froze, adrenaline pumping, working out how best to make my flight look like fight. Sort of.

Actually I was simply informed by the charming cashier that I was not allowed to purchase all of my drugs. Not allowed. It's the law, I am told. Drugs, it appears, are bad, mmmkay. What the deuce? Before I launch feet first into this one, let me add the crowning turd in the water pipe. If I wanted, I could buy one pack of Beechams and one pack of Nurofen, type in my PIN, pocket them, walk to the medicine section and repeat. Ad infinitum. Yup, as long as each separate transaction only contains a couple of packs in total, I could buy all the cold and flu drugs in the store. Not only is there in existence this ludicrous rule, but it is in practice totally hollow. It doesn't even work in its misguided quest.

Why on earth can I not buy two packs of Beechams? I know that just to get me through my man flu will probably take 4-5 days. That's 8 tablets a day. So, I have to go back to the shop at least once to re-stock. Some people probably take longer to convalesce. Many people will have far larger households than mine and are likely to infect their families with their germs. If we had had this barking rule in place when I was growing up in a house of 8, assuming we all had a cold, someone would have had to pop to the chemist twice a day.

Is there a raging epidemic of slightly poorly men throwing in the towel, succumbing to man flu and deciding to end it all in a hail of phenylephrine and paracetamol? It seems a rather odd way to top yourself, and rather pricey too - Beechams ain't cheap. Perhaps it's the preferred suicidal route for people who don't want to jump off Beachy Head but failed in their bid for the afterlife with a gallon of Junior Calpol.

Either way, what a totally ridiculous rule. If fatties aren't limited to the number of bags of pork scratchings they can buy, or Withnail-esque students limited to the number of cans of cider they can buy (or lighter fluid), why on God's green am I not allowed to buy enough cold medicine in a oner to make me stop dripping snot on my shroud of pyjamas, blanket and despair? I've read the papers and I'm almost entirely sure the Government has more important things to worry about - like declaring Bank Holidays or voting for Wagner.

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