J’ai un mal à la gorge. En Angleterre, nous avons le “TCP”

My family’s recent bout with non-specific cold-like illnesses included a sore throat for one of my teenage sons. He must have been feeling bad, because it was enough to convince him not to race his bike for a week. (In fairness, reminding him that previous attempts to compete whilst ill didn’t work out well was also a factor.)

“You need to take some TCP!”, said his Uncle.

“Already on it!”, said I.

For those who are not familiar with TCP (not the networking protocol), it is a particularly foul antiseptic substance that can be diluted and gargled to attack the bacteria that cause sore throats. It’s not nice. But it is effective.

Trying to buy TCP whilst on holiday…

TCP seems to be a very British thing though. I know ex-pats in the ‘States who bring it over from the UK and this incident reminded me of trying to get some in France. We were skiing, in Tignes, and I had a sore throat. Not wanting to miss any time on the slopes, I was willing to take some strong stuff to try and get better.

So, off to “la pharmacie”, I tramped… and in my best schoolboy French (GCSE grade B, Kingsthorpe Upper School, 1988) I said to the assistant:

“J’ai un mal à la gorge. En Angleterre, nous avons le ‘TCP’. En avez-vous?”

I also pointed at my throat and attempted to gargle, for effect.

The perplexed shop assistant looked at the mad Englishman on the other side of the counter, shrugged, and pulled out a bottle of cough syrup. Basically it was a sugar mix (certainly not TCP), but that was as far as I was going to get with my limited grasp of the language. Ironically, as I was writing this post I found that TCP is produced in France, for sale in the UK.

I don’t recall whether I missed any skiing time. I certainly didn’t let a sore throat ruin my holiday, but I’m equally sure I wasn’t able to buy any antiseptic for my throat. These days, a small bottle of TCP is a permanent item in my travel bag.

NOT A SPONSORED POST!

Image credit: author’s own.

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