Brash McKelvie – The lost treasures of the woodshed

Scottish Field’s online columnist Brash McKelvie found some old friends during a look in the woodshed.

Here are the cast of characters that share the vicissitudes of life:

Scragend – a Rhode Island Red of indeterminate age and foul nature.

Shitting Cat – does exactly what it says on the tin.

The Beloved – a paragon of virtue and a self-appointed critic of most of my thoughts and actions.

Snr and Jnr Orifice – our fledged offspring.

And so it begins – tools that had their winter holiday tucked away in various parts of the house have now been rounded up and given an eviction order by the Beloved.

They must return to their rightful place in the woodshed which means that I have to start making order of the winter-chuck-it-in-there-I’ll-do-it-later chaos. And I do set to work with the best of intentions but quickly get side tracked by some long lost ‘treasures’ found lurking in the dark unloved parts of the shed.

Most recently it was a bottle of Sloane’s liniment. As a child I remember this being a general panacea for all grazes and bumps – in fact it was used for anything from a scratch to just within a hair’s breadth of open heart surgery.

Odiferous, sticky and stinging, nowadays our children would slap restraining orders on us rather than allow it be applied to them, but my generation, and the ones before that, acceded without demur.

But should we preen ourselves on what we ‘put up’ with? Does stoicism encourage improvement? If you take a horror tour through the various treatments throughout history then maybe greater inroads would have been made more speedily if the patient had looked askance at what was about to happen, then hopped off the kitchen table screaming ‘Not on your (or my) life Doc!!’ Got a sore gut? Stomach washing is the way forward. Psoriasis? Liquid arsenic is the answer. Lumbago playing up? Hot ironing the affected area will sort that out. Petit mal? Circumcision – obviously. Fight off cholera by stuffing your socks with sulphur.

My personal favourite must be if you know someone prone to hysteria then show them no sympathy, cut meat out of their diet and threaten them with blisters. All to be found in ‘Diseases and Remedies’ – the physicians’ ‘go to’ handbook.

It was while I was musing on the huge developments made in medicine, safe in the dappled recess of my shed, that I first heard the torrent of indignation making its way unerringly towards me.

The Beloved had found a further cache of tools that I had overlooked and this was causing untold grief on the domestic front. They arrived at my feet via an upward ark action that any fast bowler would have been proud to have claimed. Then peace descended. I wonder if there ever has been a remedy for Hen-Peckery and does it involve lancing boils?. I have my doubts.