A Quest for Calpol

A sunny bank holiday Monday. The plan had been to take a drive to Foxley Wood which would be blanketed in bluebells. How wonderful! 

Things didn’t go to plan. (Do they ever?)

Boo spent the day feeling unwell. Lethargic, nauseous and running a temperature, she stayed in bed.

All day she refused any medicine though. But I don’t tend to panic at the first sign of a temperature though. Not like Teflon Man, who seemed to time travel back to the 1950s demanding that we get a doctor to make a house call. He wasn’t impressed when I pointed out that doctors don’t do that any more and our options were a) to go through NHS Direct/Choices that will just tell us that due to her running a temperature she has a fever and to self-manage, b) to drag her to an out-of-hours surgery and wait interminably with other people who dare to fall ill on a bank holiday, only to be told that it’s a fever and to go home and self-manage or c) wait til our own surgery opens and get a callback from her GP. Who’ll say that there’s zip they can do.

Boo’s not ill very often, but when she is she manages to pull off a look not too far off Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rogue – all delicate waif that is; not so much the tight corsets and singing.

She wasn’t well, but she was fine sleeping it off. I kept a bedside vigil as much as I could. (A blessing as the night before had definitely caught up with me. Long gone are the days when a hangover can be shaken off, especially when there’s no bacon in the house.)

But the first rule of childhood illness is that things always get worse after dark.

At 7.40pm her temperature went up some more. The digital thermometer was missing, but an out-of-date forehead thermometer put her at around 39 degrees.  She agreed to have some Calpol. 

There wasn’t any.

There was an empty box in the cupboard, but no actual medicine.

On a normal day this wouldn’t be a problem. Sainsbury’s is 5 minutes away in one direction and shuts at 8.00pm. Morrisons is 5 minutes in the opposite direction and shuts at 9.00pm. But a bank holiday is NOT a normal day – they were both closed. (A fact I only discovered after walking first to Morrisons and then Sainsbury’s.)

Not to panic, there’d be a chemist open somewhere. I hopped in the car and headed to the one we’d always go to when I was a kid.

Yes, it’s been a while, apparently. It’s now a tattoo parlour. I kept driving.

(And by ‘kept driving’ what I mean is that I sat at every set of traffic lights on the way out of town.)

The small supermarkets were shut, but there are two big supermarkets on the outskirts of town. Both open til late – Tesco is 24 hours – and both have a pharmacy. Both were also closed.

Who decided bank holidays were ever a good idea?!?!

For that matter, who decided massive supermarkets were a good idea? Without them and their umbrella of convenience, chances are that the small pharmacy wouldn’t have shut down and I could’ve actually got what I needed. Gah! Damn and blast big-name commercialism.

I drove back into town. There was one more chemist to try. As a last resort I decided I’d knock on a friend’s door and ask if I could borrow some Calpol from her. (Because surely I’m the only mum who doesn’t have a perpetual supply, even though I only use about 20ml of every bottle I buy. Do Calpol fairies then steal them back? Or do they disappear into the same black hole that sucks up one sock from every other pair and the very important piece of paper that you need RIGHT NOW, instead leaving behind a surfeit of pre-school scribblings. 

But then, as I drove by, I noticed the Spar was open!

Ok, the chances were I’d only be able to get hold of instant coffee, gossip mags and a Subway roll, but it was worth a shot. 


An hour after I’d set off on my 5-minute errand I was heading back home. Wouldn’t you guess it: more red lights.

Boo took a dose and slept, her temperature heading back to normal. Phew. 

I’m chaining the Calpol to the medicine cabinet for next time though. Those pesky fairies can keep their hands off. This time it’s staying as mine! 


5 thoughts on “A Quest for Calpol”

  1. God, of course this has to happen on bank holiday. It’s the only way it could happen. And of course now you’ll have a box in-house and of course you won’t need it for a long long time and when you do need it you’ll see it’s expiration date has passed. This is how it goes round here too! But glad you’re through the crisis for now……your persistence and ability to put up with frustration is amazing!

    1. I really should have anticipated it all happening whilst I was actually in Sainsbury’s. But with 3 kids in the house I stupidly assumed the presence of Calpol in the house was a given.
      God alone only knows where the digital thermometer is too. That’ll show up only when I’ve bought a new one. Just as happened with the expensive not comb.
      Ah, the ‘joys’ of living with too many people.

  2. Is that like our version of Tylenol? Poor little thing. And I’m with your husband…. House calls would be Soooo Great! Except I’d have to clean the entire entry of our place so the doctor could find a pathway to walk. Didn’t they also used to have pharmacies that delivered too? Those were the days. Feel better Boo. You’re funny even when you’re a concerned mama!

  3. Awwww bless her, noooo!!!! You should have gone to Lidl, we stay open until 8pm even on Bank holiday Mondays (I cant believe I said “we” I’ve been there too long) I was working Monday too, luckily it was dead by 5 as people assumed we’d shut haha. Hope Boo is feeling much better now!

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