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Smallville: An Eastern Premise

“I left the premises armed with a bottle of Wong To Yick’s Wood Lock to rub into the affected parts and a fortnight’s supply of Zhuang Gu Guan Jie Wan to be taken twice a day after meals…’’ Chuckle along with Peter B Farrell as he gets more than he bargained for after entering a Chinese herbal remedies shop.

A recent holiday encounter with an 85 year old Yoga teacher had inspired me to revisit my copy of ‘Yoga for the Over Fifties - Illustrated’.

“You could be a bit late.” Margaret - my wife - intoned from the comfort of her armchair as I attempted to execute some of the easier positions. On the premise of ‘No pain, no gain’ I was making remarkable progress. In fact after a week of assiduous practise my body was racked with it...

“You’re not wearing those down-at-heel shoes, are you?” My wife looked aghast at my favourite loafers, well worn but comfortable. We were about to embark on a morning’s Christmas shopping in the City.

“Mm, I thought they just might see me through the winter.”

“...And you’ll need some new trousers after last week’s escapade.” She hadn’t forgotten how I had tripped over a low wall, leaving the tattered garment beyond repair, not to mention shredding the skin off my knees.

“I seem to be spending a fortune on clothes lately.“ I recalled the 10 pairs of white socks, not to mention the handkerchiefs, a bulk-buy last Christmas.

“Not from where I’m standing you haven’t.”

“I don‘t want to look too prosperous. Might get mugged.” I ran out of excuses and changed the shoes.

Later we joined the early Christmas shoppers and admired the store displays in the City centre. A downpour of rain drove us into the recently opened shopping mall, a new development which had replaced a rundown factory. We were pleased to find ourselves in the largest book shop I had ever seen, not only books, but also all manner of films and music.

“You can buy me this.” I picked out a DVD of ‘Space Soldiers‘, a Flash Gordon epic from the 1930s featuring the downfall of Emperor Ming. I selected the latest John Le Carré for Margaret. After a pleasant hour browsing the shelves we had managed to find suitable gifts for each other and for our family.

I had hoped to visit the health food store in the City. We needed to top up my green tea supply, also a recent article in a weekend magazine had mentioned a calcium supplement which might possibly help to ease aching and creaking joints.

“The Chinese, they must know a thing or two about green tea.” I was drawn to a bright modern shop specialising in herbal remedies. The staff were extremely courteous and helpful; I soon had sufficient tea bags to see us into the New Year and a leaflet extolling the success of 4,000 years of medical practise. Impressed by the variety of potions and remedies on view I made a tentative enquiry regarding calcium supplements.

“You must see doctor here; free consultation.“ The young attractive assistant gestured to a curtained area at the rear of the shop.

“Well, I only want enquire...”

“You can see doctor, only few minutes.” Well, with 4,000 years of experience, and if the shape of the staff was anything to go by...

While waiting, I filled in my personal details and congratulated myself on my apparent lack of the listed ailments and diseases. Soon I took my place behind the curtain and discussed the aches and pains with the good doctor. It transpired that much of my current discomfort was possibly due to an imbalance of Yin and Yang - whatever that was - resulting in energy blockages within the body. A course of acupuncture may be beneficial.

“Mm not sure, I’ll have to give it some thought.“ I baulked at the idea, but the good doctor hadn’t finished.

“You need first to detoxify, a three month course;“ and led me back into the shop. I couldn’t follow his conversation with his young assistant; but suffice to say I left the premises armed with a bottle of Wong To Yick’s Wood Lock to rub into the affected parts and a fortnight’s supply of Zhuang Gu Guan Jie Wan to be taken twice a day after meals. I assured the staff that I would return for more should there be a marked improvement and left in a hurry.

“Look a sale, just the thing;“ A few yards along the shopping mall Margaret had spotted a shop specialising in the latest thing in menswear. While she had been amused by my introduction to Chinese medicine, I was still in a confused state and allowed myself to be propelled into the shop. Greeted by a courteous young man sporting a blue and white spotted bandana over his hair, it quickly dawned on me that the styles on view were not for me. Nevertheless I went through the motions and picked out a pair.

“What size sir?,”

“Er medium length, 34 inch waist please;“ I mumbled. Taking the proffered garment I was ushered into a changing cubicle. I was relieved that the trousers were too long, apparently that being the latest style. The young man did offer to send away especially for my size but I declined, thanking him for his help, especially as he had fetched a chair for Margaret.

“No, we don’t come into town very often.” And managed to leave with my dignity intact.

“Take care sir, madam.” I was impressed by the politeness we had encountered, not the usual thing you hear at the supermarket check-out.

Time was now getting on and my suggestion of calling for lunch on the way home met with Margaret ‘s approval. the trousers could wait for another day.

“I could always have another look, when I need more Chinese medicine.” The ambivalence of this remark was not lost on my wife.

“You’ll put up with the aches and pains then?”


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