This week’s word is…
No, not that delightful fizzy liquid that you mix with gin to cure-all the world’s ills, (is that just me?).
I am talking about a tonic of a different kind altogether.
We are at that time of year now where all Irish Mammies fret about the health and well-being of their little ones. Eager to avoid the coughs and sniffles, and of course to prevent that most dreaded of all curses… being “run down”, they will inevitably look at their darling offspring and declare them in need of a “tonic”.
Off to the chemist the Mammies will march in search of the magic elixir.
I recall the sinking feeling when the giant glass bottle of dark, murky liquid was produced from the paper bag.
Despite protestations that I felt absolutely fine, fit as a butcher’s dog, on top of the world – resistance was, as the Borg Queen, (who, freakily had a passing resemblance to my Mam; great bone structure!), would say, futile. A generous glob of the sinister fluid was deposited into a wee plastic measuring cup which was held out for me to drink.
No amount of downturned mouth or puppy dog eyes could save me now.
“Come on now, down the hatch. It’ll do you the world of good!” she remained firm, resolute. Mamma was not to be messed with on this one.
Squeezing closed my eyes, I would bring the cup to my lips, recoiling at the sharp metallic pong of said tincture and take a tiny sip.
“Down with it all in one go now. It’s better than drawing it out.”
Jaysus! Was this woman trained by the KGB!? Tough love at it’s finest.
With a whimper I would swallow the entire cupful, trying not to gag, knowing there was only a short respite… there would be another dose later that day.
I know there were branded versions, but certainly here in Ireland several chemists sold their own concoctions, ( I imagine using a secret recipe, much like KFC), which goes to show the level of trust Mammies had in their local pharmacist.
I wonder was this an Irish custom or did mothers around the world believe in the power of a “tonic”?
Incidentally… the word came to me this morning as I showered, feeling very rough indeed and quite under the weather. I thought to myself, “God I am so run down… maybe I need a tonic…” before managing a smile at the thought that, yep, I have turned into my Mother!
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