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Beyond pharmacy blog

All posts by Didapper PJ

False hero

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 21 May 2014

Thomas Midgley Jr, born 125 years ago last Sunday, was a US chemist who was feted in his lifetime but now has a darker reputation because of the impact of his work on the environment and on human health.

London’s funereal railway terminus

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 21 May 2014

Brookwood Cemetery was established by a special Act of Parliament in 1852 because of the growing difficulty of finding burial space within London. When it opened two years later, it was the world’s largest burial ground. At 500 acres, it is still the largest in the UK. The facilities at the London terminus included funerary workshops, mortuaries and a private chapel of rest. Initially funeral trains set off once a day, although by the 1930s they rarely ran more than twice a week.

Reminder of typhoid risk

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 21 May 2014

Britain’s last major outbreak of typhoid fever occurred 50 years ago this summer. The first two cases were identified on 20 May 1964. Eventually some 500 victims were diagnosed.

Lambeth’s crowded workhouse

Posted by: Didapper PJThu, 10 Apr 2014

More legs than average

Posted by: Didapper PJThu, 10 Apr 2014

You may not be aware of this, but I have been blessed with more than the average number of lower limbs.

Owls in traditional medicine

Posted by: Didapper PJThu, 10 Apr 2014

We are all familiar with the fact that a wide range of plant species have been used in folk medicine. Over the years, many such plants have been featured on this page.

Those puzzling public lavatories

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 26 Feb 2014

Public lavatories in Britain are something of a mystery to me. The first mystery is why the facilities are always allocated in a way that seems biased against the fairer sex. Women commonly have to queue for a vacant cubicle whereas men hardly ever need to wait — apart from loitering until their womenfolk reappear.

Bligh's mutiny

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 26 Feb 2014

Across the road from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s headquarters, beside the former church of St-Mary-at-Lambeth (now the Garden Museum), lies the tomb of Captain William Bligh, portrayed in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ as a cruel tyrant who mercilessly bullied and flogged his crew until they rebelled and cast him adrift in a small boat.

Is marmalade a health risk?

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 26 Feb 2014

If you happen to be in the Lake District this weekend, you may want to drop into Dalemain Gardens, near Penrith, for its annual marmalade celebration. Or then again, you may not.

Just in time

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 15 Jan 2014

During a holiday in Italy, my wife and I dined in a trattoria where a salt grinder containing Himalayan rock salt had been placed on the table. We learnt from the label that the salt had been formed two million years ago, before the Himalayas were pushed up from the ocean.

Market value

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 15 Jan 2014

You may know the expression “a drug on the market”, meaning a commodity that is no longer in demand and therefore unsellable. But why “drug”?  

Charms to soothe a savage breast

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 15 Jan 2014

More than 300 years ago William Congreve wrote: “Musick hath Charms to soothe a savage Breast.” In recent years the medical world has begun to appreciate that listening to music can help patients in stressful healthcare situations. There is now a quarterly peer-reviewed journal called Music and Medicine, which offers “an integrative forum for clinical practice and research related to musical interventions and applications of clinical music strategies in medicine”. Although ...

Father of organic chemistry

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 15 Jan 2014

In my Christmas miscellany article about the medicinal uses of urine and its constituents (PJ 2013;291:658), I mentioned that the urea used in products for skin conditions is now synthesised rather than obtained from biological sources.

A dribble with a history

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 4 Dec 2013

If you follow the River Thames upstream for half a mile from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Lambeth headquarters and look back over the parapet of Vauxhall Bridge, you may notice a hole in the river wall from which, when it is not obscured by a high tide, a trickle of water emerges. Above the outlet is a sign identifying this as the River Effra.

Isabella's underwear

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 4 Dec 2013

Early ornithologists had a habit of using obscure adjectives when naming new-found species. In particular, they got carried away when naming birds that exhibited a predominant colour. As a result, there are species whose names include words such as berylline (light blue), cerulean (sky blue), cinereous (ashy), citrine (light olive), ferruginous (reddish brown), flammulated (reddish), fulvous (dull yellow), glaucous (pale greyish), hoary (greyish), ochraceous (orange-yellow), olivaceous ...

Do you need a lapactic or an exipotic?

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 4 Dec 2013

Recently, having been scheduled for a “virtual colonoscopy”, I had to clear my bowels completely by assaulting them with sodium picosulfate and magnesium citrate. It was a deeply unpleasant ordeal, but luckily the scan showed that I had no serious intestinal problem.

Daylight saving time

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 23 Oct 2013

This weekend the UK sees the end of seven months of British Summer Time. Britain pioneered the adoption of daylight saving time in the summer months, and about 80 other countries have since followed its example.

Lambeth pottery works

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 23 Oct 2013

At the far end of Lambeth High Street from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s headquarters is an ornately tiled red brick building. It is all that is left of the Lambeth Doulton pottery factory, established almost 200 years ago.

Pharmacist’s son and Hollywood great

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 23 Oct 2013

Lambeth maritime link

Posted by: Didapper PJWed, 11 Sep 2013

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s London headquarters is miles from the open sea, and yet it has two close neighbours that are dedicated to maritime issues.

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