For years, we have been hearing that we don’t take advantage enough of our pharmacists.
I recently discovered what that means is that your local chemist is rather good at giving advice about over-the-counter medications for many ailments, which could mean we do not have to see our GPs. I’m not sure about that.
I told a pharmacist a few years ago that I was having night shivers. I walked out of there having been persuaded to buy a hot water bottle.
Now we hear that chemists on the high street are going to be doing more diagnosing and prescribing. I am sure they will all get extra qualifications to do that, but I am still a tad worried.
There are no private areas in chemists, as far as I can see. There are no heavy curtains to slip behind for private consultations. I have piles of things that I don’t want others to hear me discussing, including my piles.
A while back, I had a few skin tags – only I didn’t realise they were just skin tags; I thought they were warts. It was about a week before an appointment was available at the surgery. Someone suggested I ask a chemist.
Apparently there are all kinds of skin blemishes you can have, so when I asked what they had for warts, the chemist asked where they were, if I was sure they were warts, and what kind they were. I was mortified.
“Er, well, you know. They are on the side of my neck and under my arm, you know. You know, places like that. Anyway, you probably have an ointment, you know? Yes?” I blush just thinking about that now. I couldn’t even speak properly.
Too many opportunities for embarrassment
And I don’t think I could discuss anything with a pharmacist here in Stornoway that involved any kind of yucky smell. Imagine that. Whether they knew me or not, it would just be too much for me to bear. That would include bad breath, foot odour, and sweating.
What put me off was hearing a soft-spoken lady ahead of me in the queue asking for something quietly. The staff in there were behind Perspex screens and she needed to raise her voice to be heard. After a few failed attempts, she just had to shout. “Have you got anything for wind?” She boomed.
The staff were very professional and unflustered. However, all the other customers, including myself, were doubled up, trying to stifle the giggles. It was so sudden and unexpected to hear anyone shout – and about that particular condition.
Then some joker in the supplements aisle shouted: “I could loan you my kite.” We all just snorted.
Politicians are changing their tunes
Am I flying a kite to suggest something strange is happening in Scottish politics? I was stunned to hear former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale admitting she voted SNP because she was angry that her own party was not strongly anti-Brexit. She used to lead Labour in Scotland.
Mind you, there is a bit of this Kezia thing going on. For the last week, as revelations about how busy the SNP leadership was deleting conversations on WhatsApp, as if they had something to hide, many of the SNP people I know now want to vote Labour, Loony Party, or any party. Anything but SNP. Amazing.
As was Kate Forbes on Question Time last week. She admitted she had no clue there was a policy on deleting messages. So, she deleted nothing. She was only the finance minister. Katag wouldn’t fib because she’s a Free Church member and they don’t tell porkies.
Hmm, was there an actual policy? I just wish the others had directly answered what they were asked.
Also amazing was news that former Tory minister Rory Stewart, who has just had First Minister Humza Yousaf on his podcast thingummy with Alastair Campbell, now declares himself charmed and “a fanboy”, whatever that means. Where is all this lovey-doveyness towards rival parties coming from?
How to cure the hiccups
Yet, I am not sure I love pharmacists, or whether they will provide the level of service we are used to from a GP. How clued-up can they actually be?
For instance, I heard about a man who went to a chemist’s and asked if the pharmacist could give him something for hiccups. The pharmacist promptly leaned forward across the counter and beckoned him closer. Then he slapped the man’s face really hard.
“What the…? What did you do that for?” The man stammered, holding his red face. The pharmacist just grinned from ear to ear. He said: “That’s my special cure. A proper fright works best. See? You don’t have the hiccups anymore, do you?”
The man replied: “I don’t have hiccups, you amadan, but my wife out in the car still does.”
Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides