Dear Hugh 8
Monday June 27th 2005
Thank you for your letter asking for a good hang-over cure. Before I apply myself to that, I thought you ought to know that I’ve discovered where the Government has spent all that pension cash that everybody’s been asking them for - the ever-nannying Home Office has used it to buy Morrisons, or Safeways as we used to call it.
Odd, I know, but nonetheless true. And I have proof; I was in there (Safeway/Morrisons) this morning, mooching about with a list and trying to avoid those mums who hang around there bending over deliberately at the bottom shelves so that you can see their cleavage and get the hint that their old man’s at work, when the contents of my trolley were suddenly seized at the check-out.
Now before you start assuming stuff, don’t. Because whilst I realise that it is perfectly possible to buy magic mushrooms in Oxford Street these days (at the jeans store that is opposite Virgin at the Tottenham Court Road end), as far as I’m aware Safeway has yet to get in on that act.
No, my shopping was impounded because it contained aspirin and paracetamol. There on the conveyor belt behind the apples, San Pellegrino and dairy-free ice cream (sic), were four packets of 16 tablets of aspirin and four packets of 16 tablets of paracetamol. Each packet costing 19p.
I was just breaking into that forehead sweat that you get from attempting to keep up with bagging your shopping in tandem with the Mach III speed at which they scan it when the slip of a girl on the check-out said “You can’t have that”.
“Sorry?”, I said, confused.
“You can’t have that. I can only sell you two packets of painkillers”.
“But I want eight”, I protested.
“You can only have two”.
“Why?”, I said, knowing already that I was going to regret asking that.
“It’s the law”, she recited woodenly.
“No it’s not”, I reacted, being something of an authority on the varied legalities of substances (as you know).
The girl was plainly confused by this and appeared reluctant to argue.
“Who told you it’s the law?”, I continued but she didn’t want to answer that either.
“Hang on a sec”, I said and muttering “sorry about this, mate” to the bloke who was now knocked out with delight to be queuing behind this unexpected shopping jam, I belted off to the in-store pharmacy.
“Excuse me”, I mumbled to the chemist who was standing there glaring at me with eyes that said it’s eleven thirty in the morning, why aren’t you at work like proper men? “Your girl on the till tells me that I can only buy two packets of painkillers. Why is that?”
Immediately she clocked the long hair and earrings and, doubtless presuming that I was therefore planning to inject this gear, enquired “Why do you need more?”
“Because I have a wife and three daughters and they all get periods and because my son and I get headaches”, I said, not expecting the interrogation and not willing to disclose the input of hangovers here.
“Well, it’s the law anyway”, she huffed.
“Which law is that? Can you name me the exact Act?”.
Irritated by my retaliation, she changed tack.
“It’s so that you don’t overdose”, she said.
“But I wasn’t planning to overdose”. I admit that this was a bit of a lie; for whilst I had no intentions of suicide before this palaver began, the appeal of that was by now starting to grow on me.
“It’s meant to make it difficult for people to overdose”.
I fixed her with my best “Madam, you are a cretin” look whilst I computed that two-packs-only rule was ludicrous anyway, on account of 2 x 16 aspirin or 2 x 16 paracetamol or an exotic cocktail of one pack of either would kill you anyway.
So what was the rule for? To stop you killing yourself more? To prevent binge-dying?
Besides, what happened to the buy-one-get-one-free philosophy; does that only apply to catering packs of Kotex and other non-requirements like surplus tins of luncheon meat?
I was causing another queue now and the line of pensioners behind me were becoming arsey that I was holding them up from getting their prescriptions for surgical stockings, so I went for the throat.
“Let me get this right; you can only sell me two packets of aspirin in case I kill myself – even though those two packets would kill me anyway?”
“That’s right, only two packets”, she withered.
“OK. So how many bottles of Scotch can you sell me?”
“As many as you’d like, sir”, said the mouthpiece of reason.
I walked away, resisting the temptation to summon the manager for a good castigating on the matter of how dare he sell two-litre bottles of bleach, as that could kill me, or how dare he sell packs of twelve fish-fingers, as that could suffocate me if I crammed them all into my mouth at once and refused to chew or swallow, or how dare he not limit the quantity of Diet Coke I could purchase in case, in a suicidal bid, I filled my bath with it and held my head under the brown froth.
Come to that, how dare they sell bunches of bananas when it is perfectly feasible that I could stand outside the store stripping off the skins and deliberately attempting to slip on one, again and again until I managed to skid beneath a passing bus?
And I was just enumerating the myriad ways in which I suspected that Safeway was stealthily culpable of assisting my death when the reason for all this came to me.
Blunkett, this is his doing. Or else the doing of that fat bogger who stepped in as replacement when dear David got caught bringing a whole new meaning to Blind Man’s Buff, the one who looks like a pederast Father Christmas.
It’s the bloody Home Office, buying up Safeway/Morrisons in order to nanny us again with that restrictionist protestant logic that they never quite manage to think out much beyond the penetrating argument of “just don’t do it, OK?” I expect they’re going to re-name it “Homer’s”, probably in a bid to subliminally appeal to the Simpsons-like intelligence of their average supporter.
Anyway, all of this expansionism by the Home Sweet Home Office is just the tip of the ice-pick. As soon as their spin quacks get on the case we won’t even be allowed two packs of aspirin; not content with printing that “Smoking Kills” graffiti all over my Marlboro packs, the Government PR unit will have a field day with new slogans like “Tense, nervous headache? Deal with it”.
And this brings me to my point – if the Government is now set on preventing the use of pain-killers (either by this alleged “law” that nobody seems capable of detailing or else by state control of supermarketing), how on Earth are decent Englishmen like ourselves expected to cure our hangovers?
Are we to be called upon to do something ridiculous like just ignore the pain? Does Blunkett or Clarke or whatever he calls himself require that we don’t get drunk? Or maybe he’s hoping to fob us off with those herbal “remedies” on which it is impossible to OD for the simple reason that extract of camomile wouldn’t anaesthetise a newly-born ant.
The point is that the writing is on the wall and I seriously advice you to stock up now on all available forms of pain-killer otherwise the cure below will not work. Unless you know of a better cure, in which case send me the recipe.
THE GOOD MORNING-AFTER
* In a pint glass, pour in four fingers of near-frozen vodka.
* Add the juice and zest of one lemon + one finger of Tabasco.
* Add sprinkle of celery salt + one finger of Worcestershire Sauce.
* Add four aspirin or paracetamol + 1 teaspoon of Vitamin C.
* Top up with juice of 1 tin of liquidised plum tomatoes + ice.
* Drink rapidly, followed by chaser of half-pint of pale ale.
* If hang-over remains after 10 minutes, repeat all above.
* Do not bother to decorate with irritating celery stick as it invariably gets in the way and restricts the gulping.