Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Advice for country vets

Samuel Johnson exhibited a rare lack of self-assurance when he gave this definition: "A disease, I suppose, of cattle".

We shall never know whether his supposition was justified, for the word has disappeared from our language; at least, the OED knows it not, though perhaps in some dark corner of rural Somerset that terrible scourge headgargle is still rife and therefore the word remains common currency.

Anyway, the doctor's doubts about its exact meaning did not prevent him from quoting the remedy: "For the headgargle, give powder of fenugreek. Mortimer." He does not tell us which Mortimer made this recommendation but it is worth committing to memory; every vegetarian cook worth his Noirmoutier salt has powder of fenugreek to hand (for flavouring his purée of mung beans) and should know how handy it will be if headgargle breaks out.


Elizabeth said...

It's a kind of snortle.

gumby said...

Headgargle is a common but rarely diagnosed condition of the inner ear, caused by an inferior and/or malfunctioning telco.
It is messy, ugly, but-- thank goodness-- not contagious. The most simple and effective remedy is to throw the phone against the wall, or any hard surface.
You will feel better immediately.

Humbly yrs,


Tony said...

Why, thank you, ladies, but I suspect you are both hanging noodles on my ears. It may be that neither of you speak Russian so you will have to wait until 16th to find out what that means.

OutEast said...

My suspicion is that Johnson's putative uncertainty was much like the Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax's spade denialism. I imagine it said with a bit of a sneer (mind you, I imagine pretty much anything Jognson ever wrote being said with a bit of a sneer. He seems like that kind of chap).

Tony said...

I disagree. Some biographies show him to have been basically an honest and kindly man; a bit sharp-tongued sometimes, and not inclined to suffer fools gladly, but never a sneerer.
By the way, OutEast, your profile mentions a blog. Where is it?