People waiting to be attended at a chemist. | Archives


I know the days of the good old foreign phrase books have long gone, for all they were worth, mind you they did add some extra fun to holidays abroad and as a result of their demise the demand for trouser presses in hotels has fallen sharply, but in today’s era of super smart phone technology, we’ve all got up-to-date translator options at a touch of a pad. But the Brits still appear to adhere to the good old option of shouting English, often extra slowly, to get themselves understood.

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The other day I was in my local chemist in the very centre of Palma where the highly professional young staff speak excellent English. I was busy going about my business when a large Briton marched in, granted he was wearing his shorts and a T-shirt, brave man in these current temperatures, but no face mask - despite a sign on the door reminding people in three different languages that masks still have to be worn in chemists.

Anyway, the staff let that slip. What the chap was after was a ‘cold spray’ for a muscle ache on his leg.
I know it was a cold spray he was after because he barked what he ‘wanted’ at the young pharmacist four times in quick repetition and louder each time. As the staff know me, they looked my way and, having lived here a fair few years, I could read their minds. The pharmacist tried to narrow down what he exactly needed the cold spray for but he appeared to miss the fact that she spoke English and was trying to be extra helpful and make sure he got what he really needed for his ailment.
Finally I got a word in. Reflex? ‘That’s right’ he said. Well why didn’t he say so?