Image via WikipediaI was talking to mother on the 'phone and she was telling me that one of her friends was having dreadful pain in her hands.
'Do you remember what it was that I took for that all those years ago?' She asked. 'I'd like to be able to help Dolly, but I don't want to get the wrong name.'
At that time in question I was a teenager but I remembered the remedy without any problem.
Our G.P. at the time was a German chap who believed in self help and natural remedies.I have absolutely no idea how he came to be practicing medicine in England, at a time when the EU was only a gleam in the eye of the European Iron and Steel Community, but there he was. Practicing.
Scrimshankers got short shrift in his waiting room.
He would cross the garden from his house to the annexe where he held surgery, hurl open the door and shout
'Malingerers, go home! This surgery is for people who are sick!'
And on that rousing note the surgery began.
Occasionally a malingerer stood his or her ground - probably not realising that they fell into the 'strang verboten' category - and the noise from behind the surgery door would rise in volume until the unfortunate victim would pop out as if blown from a cannon.
It was all most enjoyable and certainly beat 'collapse of stout party' cartoons in Punch when it came to waiting one's turn.
He used to mix his own medicines and, unlike the chemist, refused to wrap the bottles in paper...
'People will think you are drinking...'
These being the days when grocers wrapped your bottle of sherry in paper to preserve your reputation, with the result that anyone seen carrying a bottle wrapped in paper was automatically suspected of secret drinking behind the curtains.
Mother was having terrible pain in her hands....the joints seemed to be seized up...so she risked going to the surgery, with me in attendance.
Herr doctor looked, manipulated and announced
'I have just the thing!'
Now, since he had recently given me an arsenic tonic as he felt I was outgrowing my strength I waited with keen anticipation to see what mother would receive...strychnine, perhaps? Could I be so lucky?
No, I could not.
'You are to take a glass of white burgundy once a day and come back to see me in three months.'
Then, fixing mother with a commanding eye
'Nothing else will do. No substitutes. White burgundy will have the correct dose of minerals to correct the problem with your joints. Take your daughter to buy it...she has a brain.'
And on this happy note we were ejected to make room for the next patient.
So where on earth were we to buy white burgundy? This was an era where there were wine merchants...posh and expensive....and off licences...dubious and not cheap.
Father had the answer.
'I'll get old Blodge to put me up for the Wine Society.'
A wonderful British institution run by the members for the members to provide good quality drinking.
Old Blodge obliged, father was accepted as a member and the white burgundy made its appearance.
Mother's joints ceased to pain her...or she was anaesthetised....and we all got a taste for the stuff.
So I knew what to recommend to Dolly...sincerely hoping that she had a pension in the stratosphere to allow her to buy white burgundy at today's prices.
By coincidence, just before ringing mother I had received an e mail from a French friend entitled
'Alcohol before 1900'
replete with images of beer drinking mothers whose babies were bursting with health, toddlers proving their manly qualities by attacking father's bottle of absinthe, the merits of a Cointreau 'for the road' being vaunted while train drivers swore by Ricard's true Marseilles pastis and a most engaging list of ailments and their vinous remedies.
You will be delighted to know that for problems with the menopause you have only to take four glasses of St..Emilion a day for your troubles to be forgotten....while for nervous depression it is four glasses of Medoc.
For fever you have to drink a bottle of dry champagne a day, for high blood pressure four glasses of either Alsace or Sancerre, for high cholesterol four glasses of Muscadet, while for obesity, that modern obsession, four glasses of red burgundy are prescribed.
Should, however, you suffer 'important obesity', you will be obliged to take a daily bottle of rose de Provence.
Sounds a lot better than the products of Bayer and GlaxoSmithKlein to me....