Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Single malt bottles are guarded in all manner of secret ways  in our local supermarket but the Ferret treats them with contempt because she is a closet whisky hater.

It was in a moment of rare tolerance she agreed to get my weekly bottle of  'The Balvenie'. When she came home I could see she was in the nearest she ever gets to a 'pet'. On such occasions she prefaces her remarks with the word 'horrors', the nearest she ever gets to swearing. When she is really mad I can always tell because then she allows herself  'Multiple Horrors'. This was clearly a multiple horrors day.

"It's getting so noisy in Sainsbury's," she complained. "I thought the place was on fire.  The ringing bells nearly deafened me."

When I took the bottle out of its rather smart barrel I discovered why. Ordinary blended whiskies have a burglar alarm round the neck. The rarer malts have a second alarm on the lid of the barrel because the Scot has a reputation for bawbee preservation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           That had been removed but the inner alarm was still clinging to the bottle neck. I could see in a moment it was my fault but I had more pressing worries working out how I was going to get at the amber nectar without provoking the alarm.

My son-in-law who is from Blackpool and calls a spade a spade was in favour of ripping it off because my wife had wisely kept the bill. A cautious woman she has shopping bills going back centuries. If we removed the alarm goodness knows what crimes would be laid at our door by irate Highland Maltmasters. So I got my son-in-law to rip it off. He has just been made redundant after 35 years and had little else to do. A spell in durance vile would give him the opportunity for studying his future and I had already done my share.
Sportingly he agreed and we shared a friendly dram. Then the Ferret spoiled things because how was she going to explain the broken alarm, she wanted to know, when she took it back to the shop? She didn't want to get the cashier sacked.

At the death I had to ring the shop manager, a nice chap called Alan. I said that before I told him what I was ringing about he would have to promise not to sack the cashier. Alan said he hardly ever sacked anyone so I told him and he said, "Bless you, there's no need to worry. Bring it back to the shop. We have machines for removing the alarm." I said, "I've got one, it's called a son-in-law." And Alan said to just bring the alarm and the receipt and everything would be tickety boo. And that is when the Ferret looked at the receipt and discovered she had not paid for it either.


"Wherefore to some, when being abed they betake themselves to sleep, presently in the arms and legs a leaping and contraction on the tendons and so great a restlessness and tossing of other members ensue, that the diseased are no more able to sleep than if they were in a place of the greatest torture."

Thus Sir Thomas Willis, the founder of clinical neuroscience, writing in 1672, describing his discovery of restless leg syndrome, about which, readers will recall, I have also written. When on April 1st I brought these observations to the attention of the Ferret she ungraciously insisted it was an April Fool joke. Hold your foot up, lass. The information comes from an American reader and chum Jerry Jasper, who points out that one of the authors in 2009 in the Journal of Neurosurgery writing of  "Bilateral restless legs affecting a phantom limb" was one F.M.Skidmore. Curious because the prime authority in the 18th century on gout was also called Skidmore. I was alarmed to see that Skidmore, F.M., has also studied "Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder", from which I haven't suffered for far too long but never thought of it as disorderly.

Curiously, Mr Jasper also sent a pamphlet of suggested cures for Restless Leg, including this: "Orgasm is by far one of the best treatments for restless legs. Odd but true. It releases all sorts of happy chemicals into the brain. Another remedy if you cannot achieve orgasm for what ever reason (asking for help is always a favourite for my husband) a hot bath with Epsom salts is helpful."

Not surprisingly, this suggestion provoked an immediate response from readers. "If I have a bout in the middle of the night, I immediately get up and do some housework or leg exercises. I am a single Christian woman so the orgasm remedy is not currently an option."

Under the circumstances so described, one male reader suggested "putting an unwrapped bar of Ivory soap underneath your bottom bed sheet. I have not had such a wonderful sleep since my early twenties..."


You thought Easter was exhausting. My chum Katyann writes:

"Hope you spent a happy Easter. In Trinidad we celebrated Easter, spiritual Baptist Liberation Day and phagwa or holi, a Hindu festival, all in one weekend.."