Thursday, 15 July 2010

Victorian Pharmacy

In a week dominated by the past in the form of a Take That reunion which finally incorporated Robbie Williams, you may remember, between tear-soaked heartbreak of Take That's initial collapse, and the pure ecstacy they surely brought to your life, that in the dark and distant past, I wrote about the spectacular "Victorian Farm Christmas". Well, if you're sitting there eager with delight, going "I love that show, but I'm not sure how much more we can examine the farming process from the Victorian era, having covered hay to the fullest possible extent", I have some tremendous news for you! There's a spin-off show, "Victorian Farm..acy", about, surprisingly, a Victorian Pharmacy.

This show follows the adventures of, and I fear you may have leapt ahead of me and worked out what this is already, but in the interests of stragglers, I'll continue. It's about a Victorian pharmacy, opened by Patrick Stewart lookalike and sometime television presenter Professor of pharmacology, Nick Barber, and his able and willing assistant, Tom Quick. Also featuring loosely is someone called Ruth, whom, I must admit, I took a pretty bitter dislike to after about ten seconds, pretty much solely for her love of inane chitter chatter. Thus, I spent the whole show making callous jokes about her appearance to myself, but people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and all that malarkey. But you're pondering to yourself, pontificating as follows, no doubt "The name Ruth rings a very faint bell somewhere in the deepest recesses of my nightmares. Ruth...Ruth...Good LORD!" you exclaim internally, only letting a single gasp indicate your true emotion to the world at large. "Could this be the very same Ruth from the initial Victorian Farm, brought in to make the change utterly seamless?" you doubtless wonder. Well, I have some simply stellar news for you, curiously avid Ruth-fans, she's back!

I jest, of course, there's no way you could possibly remember Ruth from that long ago, but perhaps, just PERHAPS, you're thinking "What I really loved about Victorian Farm was that everyone, regardless of location or pifflingly tiny role in the show, was fully clad in period dress. I think the show as a whole would suffer if they were to even let the facade that this were not reality fall for even the briefest of moments, and the magical element of suspense would surely have been cast asunder like a wax-plaster stuck to an elderly gentleman's chest". You may possibly be reminiscing about those great times of elaborate outfits. Luckily, they're still consistently in place, so you may stop reminiscing and savour their glory in televisual magnificence once more.

Anyways, onto the actual documentary element of the show, which seemed to focus on "Person A comes into shop exhibiting symptoms. Pharmacist recommends treatment, but then says "We can't use that, obviously, because it has opium in it". Interesting alternative treatment is made up on camera. It is given to the patient. The patient is then largely unhealed at the end of the show.", which was repeated for four people, all with varying degrees of cough. What I really ended up with in terms of knowledge from the show was "Victorians all had coughs, and as a cure, they all took opium. Also, they thought cold water was good for you".

That said, I alarmingly really enjoyed it. Perhaps it was Ruth having cold water poured down her back by a delightfully malicious old man, who was practically giggling as he did it. Maybe it was the vague seeping in of weird little facts and knowledge (Worcester Sauce is fermented and was initially a medicine, for example) that I now have in my head for Victorian-era medicine based dinner party anecdotes. "That's a funny story about Leeches, Dave, but you know they were used as medicine in the 19th century? So was Worcester sauce! No, really!" and, from there, inevitably, the dinner party is a roaring success.

Anyways, drink from the bowl of documentaries. It might taste horrible, but unlike most of the medicines on display in the show, it really is good for you.

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