Donald MacInnes: Tonsillitis and prescription charges caused me agony

In The Red

Apologies for my no-show last week. I'm sure your lives trundled on quite nicely without my input (or, as one reader so succinctly tweeted a few weeks ago, my "narcissistic drivel"), but just in case you did miss me you should know that I do have a genuine excuse.

Without wishing to get into the whole "blame" thing, I must lay the blame for my absence at the feet of my tonsils. That's if tonsils do, in fact, have feet. They certainly have evil minds. And, boy, do they cause me some aggravation. While most of us have them, not all of us live at their whim. But this reporter does. Boy oh boy. Never can two small, inflamed objects have caused such unfathomable misery (and in that I include Ant and Dec), and triggered such an almighty rush to Boots to buy painkillers.

And talking of the chemist, once I had been to the doctor to have him tell me what I already knew (my tonsillitis flares up about once every 18 months or so and has done since I was a teenager, so I didn't need my MD prodding around in the back of my throat to tell me what was wrong), I just needed him to reach into his shirt pocket for his commemorative 1987 Bobby Davro Malaga Golf Open fountain pen and write me a prescription.

I then had to take his prescription for penicillin and painkillers to the pharmacy. And it was on arrival at the Prescription Drop-Off desk that I was reminded of possibly the only reason why I regret leaving Scotland back in 1998. (Apart from leaving behind all that clean, cold, limescale-free tap water.)

As you may be aware, since it won the right to operate a national parliament the old country has been able to implement the odd law here and there. And the one which has no doubt gone down especially well with the punters is free prescription charges. With every prescription in England and Wales costing well over seven quid, one does wonder why we aren't all packing our bags and heading up the road to that nirvana of subsidised pain relief.

As well as the antibiotics, I also had to lay in an enormous stock of hardcore painkillers and paracetamol, to bring my temperature down. As it turned out, for the duration of my treatment, I had to take seven of these assorted goodies four times a day. That's 28 pills a day, 140 over the five days. I was rattling. And skint. But I guess that's the price you pay for living in Boris Town …

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