Updated: Jan 23
In a previous post, I talked briefly about comparisons (or not) with previous pandemics in medieval Europe. I talked loftily about our increased understanding and treatment of such diseases and by such means did attempt to placate our nerves about the whole sorry business.
Then I came across a story from early last month about how new and wonderful remedies and preventions for Coronavirus were being touted in various parts of the world and went crashing back to the dark ages.
Because during those days of long ago, when the Black Death was gorging on the populace, the remedies for easing the symptoms of and reducing one's chances of getting infected were not wildly different from some of those now being considered.
In India, authorities have been struggling to break up 'cow urine parties' (three words that never belonged together) where revellers drink small shot glasses of the substance in the vain hope that it prevents Coronavirus whilst simultaneously swallowing potential pathogens and getting close to crowds of people...
This may sound strange but is not so different from the things our medieval cousins did to prevent and treat their 'disease of the day' - Plague.
Apparently, rubbing the infected boils plague victims suffered with onions, herbs, snakes and chopped up pigeons was as good advice as one was likely to receive from the medical world back then (no-one mentions if the snake was to be used alive or dead). Strapping a live chicken to the affected areas was also considered to be advanced medicine as was having a long hot steep in the local sewer and/or bloodletting. And whilst I have yet to see a news report of a local man being found sitting in his cesspit with a hysterical chicken strapped to his chest, I did find some reports of unusual preventions being considered such as a sheep's head soup and boiled garlic cloves, which are clearly not going to work. but the strangest was the idea that drinking horses urine will prevent you from succumbing to Coronavirus and this represents an interesting hypothetical discussion at your local pharmacy.
"So that's two packs of aspirin and a bottle of cough syrup. Will there be anything else Sir?"
"Er, yes, actually. I would like a pint of fresh horse urine please."
A slight pause may ensue.
"Horse urine, Sir?"
"Fresh horse urine, yes." Another pause and then...
"How fresh, Sir?"
"Well, how fresh can you do?"
"Could be a problem there. Old Dobby out the back hasn't been feeling up to his old self recently so were're down to a trickle."
"Oh, I see..."
"But we can do you a pre- bottled product."
"Really? What have you got?"
Three bottles marked 'Equineg' are placed surreptitiously on the counter.
"We've got horse urine with cherry, horse urine with strawberry and..." peering at the label, "original."
"What's the original like?"
"Quite frankly, Sir, it tastes like horse-piss."
"Great, that must mean it really works - I'll take half a dozen please - and one live chicken."
"Thank you Sir. Would you like a bag for the chicken?"
"No thanks - I'll wear it now."
We have apparently moved on a great deal since the 1300's. Great strides have been made in all areas of life, but no matter what advances we make over the aeons, the one thing you can't remove from people is their innate ability to do really daft things.
©2020 Nick MacIneskar