Cold comfort

There’s a dreadful cold whipping round Fitton at the moment. I called in to see Urmila at the chemist’s to ask what she recommends. She was very patient. We spent a good ten minutes discussing aspirin, paracetamol, decongestants, cough syrups, nose sprays, antihistamines, Lemsip, Night Nurse, Day Nurse, Strepsils, Vicks, and expectorants. (We may even have touched on essential oils.)

By this point, there was quite a queue building up behind me. Urmila said kindly, ‘Of course, the symptoms will ease by themselves. Just rest, and drink plenty of fluids.’

I said, ‘Rest!’ with what I’d intended to be a hollow laugh, but which came out as more of an explosive cough.

I think Urmila had completely forgotten that I’m the mother of a five-year-old.

I said, ‘What about  – ‘

Urmila said, ‘Some people find hot fruit squash very soothing. With a teaspoon of honey.’

I said, ‘Which – ‘

Urmila said, ‘Lemon,’ very firmly. She was quite sure, I think, from our detailed discussions, that this was the best course of action.

But I also think, in restrospect, that she might have been feeling slightly under the weather herself, because when I looked back as I left the shop she had her head in her hands and everyone was crowding round to comfort her.

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