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Boaty McBoatface

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Always be careful of what you wish for; you may get it.  A warning nicely illustrated by a recent item on various news media.

It seems that some British outfit called the National Environmental Research Council, preparing to launch a brand-new $287 million—aw, let’s call it $300 even, like all of those government project go—polar(south) research vessel, thought it would be a nice, tech-savvy touch to ask followers on the internet to suggest names for the craft.

Did they get suggestions?

Yes, they did, though not exactly what they had been hoping for.  See, they were sort of hoping to have the public offer names referencing   such explorers as Henry Worsley,  who recently perished in Antarctica while attempting a solo, unassisted crossing of the continent, or maybe Sir Ernest Shackleton, who had more than one ill-fated expedition to the continent and was, ultimately, buried there.  But, noooooo, these two worthy gentlemen got lost in the shuffle somehow and the name that was, at last counting, polling the most votes was R.R.S. (for Royal Research Ship)Boaty McBoatface.  How do ya like them apples?

Could have been one of the other suggestions : It’s Bloody Cold Here, What Iceburg?, Captain Haddock, Ice, Baby, Ice, Big Shipinnit?  But Boaty McBoatface seems to be running pretty strong so far.  The agency did leave itself a little wiggle room, in that it only asked for “suggestions” and is, technically, free to ignore the “suggestions” and choose something much more august and dignified.  The internet outcry would surely be loud and long.

The one radio program that I heard commenting upon this situation was mentioning the attitude of the crew which might be on said ship.  You know how they often have shirts and caps and such stuff with the name of their vessel embroidered on the front?  Think many of the scientific sailors—it is a research ship, after all–on this one would be thrilled to have “Boaty McBoatface” riding above their foreheads or over their hearts?  Would they get tattoos?  Would other captains contacting the ship on the radio be able to muffle their giggles when asking for the commander of “Boaty McBoatface”?  Might radio and radar operators be in the same pickle calling out co-ordinates for the location of “Boaty McBoatface”?

Not as bad as the “HMS Pinafore” or for the good ship “Lollipop”, perhaps, but bad enough.

And speaking of “bad enough”, the weather, in all its variety, must surely be the source of some of the health issues popping up lately.  The flu seems to be making a return visit to the unvaccinated; a CDC report the other day said that influenza was having its latest peak in several seasons and was, indeed, still peaking, with schools closing in some locales not already on spring break.  What a crummy way to spend a vacation, in bed with the flu!

I had a brush with a common, garden variety cold recently, probably not the flu—runny nose, red, sore throat, froggy voice, aches and pains (partly attributable to the arthritis sensitive to  high and low pressure movement) but was able to overcome the malady through application of my sovereign remedy for colds : Pelsue’s Chest Rub.

Pelsue Drug was a fixture in Garrettsville for ages.  Famous for miles around, it had friendly, helpful, staff, knowledgeable, professional pharmacists who could help out in an emergency…and the last 5-cent Coke bar this side of the Mississippi.  What a place!

It also had Pelsue’s Chest Rub.  Unknown whether or not it was compounded by the original Pelsue of Pelsue Drug, it was a throwback to the days when pharmacists whomped up their own recipes for  all sorts of things.  Sulfa drugs, used as  antimicrobial agents did not appear until the 1930’s.  Penicillin hit the market in 1942.  Before that, it was “catch as catch can”, whatever works and the Wild West of pharmacy was  everywhere.  Those medicine shows in the old movies were not too far off the mark.  The best sellers, of course, were the ones with the highest alcohol percentages.  They pretty much faded into the background with the arrival of the Pure Food and Drug Act.

However, non-alcoholic nostrums are still around.  Anybody remember Lydia Pinkham’s  “Pink Pills for Pale People”?  She’s still out there, not physically, of course, she died in 1883, but the herbal concoction she concocted( some versions of the origin had it coming from a recipe handed over in settlement of a debt)and shrewdly marketed is with us yet.  Echoes can be found in many of the herbal remedies lining shelves everywhere.

Whatever the origin of Pelsue’s Chest Rub, the ingredients are Camphor, Menthol, Pine Oil and Creosote.  Camphor, menthol and pine oil are all recognizable by their scents—the combination is powerful—but creosote?…creosote is/was used to preserve fenceposts, for goodness sake!  Whatever.  I have a dwindling stash of the miracle ointment that I pull out when the situation, coldwise, is dire.  That stuff will cure what ails you, put hair on your chest (or take it off, if need be), knock loose the congestion in your chest, make your whole house smell funky…and you with it.  Works for me.  I’m hoping that Gary Benes, the last of the Fantastic Pharmacists of Pelsue Drug, has got a cache of the stuff somewhere that will tide me over until colds are the least of my worries.  Until then, of course, anyone will be able to tell if I’ve had to resort to using my remaining supply just by standing downwind.