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Smallville: Digest This

Peter B Farrell goes on a trip to town to buy indigestion tablets. But was his journey really necessary?

Growing old has focused my mind on the importance of good health. I have become an avid reader of the weekend newspapers which regularly carry articles offering advice on diet and exercise.

Conversely, my wife Margaret has never shared my enthusiasm and possesses rare healing qualities. A slight nick caused while shaving, would result in me bleeding like a stuck pig; I would then spend the rest of the day with bits of tissue paper glued to my lip/cheek/ear.

“Watch that new bread knife it’s lethal.“ I had been known to utter. No matter, a few minutes later her offending cut would stop bleeding and a small sticking plaster would suffice.

“Teddible code in the nose,” I would splutter and sneeze; enough to cause a nose bleed resulting in more tissue paper stuffed up my nostrils.

“I never have colds, I wonder why?” She would ponder.

She showed little interest in the shelf containing my Brewer’s yeast and black molasses; ignoring the supply of green and camomile teas. The organic yoghurt and cholesterol-reducing drinks in the fridge sometimes got in the way of the chilled sauvignon, but along with her weekly task of grinding and mixing the pumpkin/sunflower/sesame seeds she took it in good part with “I prefer sugar on my cornflakes.“

I was therefore surprised one morning to find her rummaging through my supply of glucosamine tablets which together with the cod liver oil was necessary to promote supple joints and play a role in mobility - though I was still waiting.

“Have we got any indigestion tablets?“

“You, indigestion?” I was so startled you could have knocked me down with a copy of Vegetarian Weekly; I tried to recall the name of a particular herbal remedy, was it St. John’s wort or Echinacea?. I couldn’t remember.

“Just plain old-fashioned indigestion tablets, like Rennies.” She sounded exasperated and suggested we call at the pharmacist’s in town.

“We could also call in at the new library;” I offered; the library service had been closed for a couple of weeks while the contents were being moved to new premises which would provide more up to date facilities. Included would be increased Internet access and a drop in centre for advice on practically everything.

Being market day the town was packed which necessitated ua parking at a Store - New Stock Every Week, the banner proclaimed - just outside the town centre.

“We’ll just have a quick look.” It seemed fair. We were after all using their car-park.

“I’ll just browse through the DVD’s if you want to look at the clothes.“ I had noticed a Bela Lugosi series amid The Sound of Music and Oklahoma. They had an interesting display of recordings of old films.

“Just stay put, I need a top to go with those new track-suit trousers.“ Margaret’s most recent purchase was just a token gesture to physical fitness. She found the sports wear warm and comfortable while watching Columbo on Channel 5.

There was a also a Bulldog Drummond series and I was still deciding when... “Quick, look what I’ve found, just the thing.” I was soon staring at a stylish clock, redolent of the Edwardian era, battery-powered but finely crafted in gleaming plastic. This apparently would do nicely as a Christmas gift for our son, an IT specialist who had all the latest electronic gadgetry.

“Are you sure?” I was dubious but...

“It’s half price, we can’t miss it. Anyway it‘ll be from me. You can always buy him a book or something.” I could see the logic and I had recently bought 16 long-life batteries at Bargains Galore (Everything under Ł1).

Forgetting about the DVDs I was soon left holding the shopping basket while Margaret tried on her sports top.

“Amazing prices, and it fits perfectly.” This splurge of retail therapy was catching. Within minutes I was trying on a pair of cut-price casual shoes very similar to a pair I bought in Ruislip in 1967.

“And you’ll be able to ditch those awful down-at-heel loafers.“ There was no answer to this. I decided against the DVDs, being content to try out the new library and after passing through the check-out we made our way to the car-park.

Margaret was content to wait while I walked into town; I needed to hurry as I hoped to get back home in time to catch the latest news of the Test Cricket in Pakistan. The portents were not good, Michael Vaughan the England captain and arch strategist had damaged an ankle while practising and would be out of the action. It happens to us all, I mused. Rennies, I remembered just in time and made a short detour to the pharmacist’s.

A box of 24 tablets seemed the ideal size, but I could buy a box containing 96 for only twice the price. The shop’s marketing ploy worked. I congratulated myself on spotting such a bargain as I hurried on my way.

Making my way quickly to the library I was surprised to find that the surrounds were redolent of a building site, ringed by a steel fence, with no visible activity inside. It was obvious that the notice board announcing ‘Your New Library - Ready Autumn 2005’ was way off the mark.

Back at the car park , I regaled Margaret with news of the library. “They’ve probably got all the books in and just waiting for the pot-plants to arrive, but I remembered your indigestion tablets.“

“What indigestion?“

I should have known.

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