|On the left, this post gestating|
Vicks VapoRub, well over a hundred years old, now has a new label. As with many modernised product names the marketeers have over-elaborated: two type faces plus an impressionistic cloud over the lower-case a. Floating above in a white cloud is the company logo.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not nostalgic for the past. The new jar, still blue but plastic instead of glass, is probably easier to spot on the pharmacy shelves. And that matters to the customer as well as to the manufacturer. I didn't buy our present jar. I was coughing my head off with a chronic lung irritation and daughter PB, acting as my nurse, gathered a whole range of specifics in the hope that one would reduce my explosions.
I didn't read the instructions (yes, I know you should) I did what I've always done: smeared the unguent on my chest and then inhaled. Well aware that this would not cure anything but that the powerful smell of menthol would provide the sensation of healing. A kind of searing yet helpful rush up the nostrils, taking me back to the days of my extreme youth when everyone said I was suffering from one of my regular attacks of bronchitis, except, retrospectively, VR, who says more likely it was asthma.
I was most ill when I was young – ie, during WW2. These occasions had a ritualistic quality. I was moved from my bed into my mother’s, and a fire was lit in the bedroom grate. I lay there weak, weedy and inert; wanting nothing, not even a book to read. On one occasion I was attacked by a normally fatal malady which could easily have killed me off.
Suppose that had happened. Would this post have been written, or even imagined? I’ll ponder that.