Yes, I have hay fever. So the hay fever season can be particularly bad when pollen counts are high, but to be fair I have not suffered nearly as much since moving to the UK because I am away from most of my worst enemies. Pine was particularly bad for me and I lived for many years in the town aptly named Pineville. Throughout those years I suffered constant headaches and sneezing fits that could have possibly earned me a place in the Guinness Book of World records. But I have discovered a new enemy here. The fields of yellow that stretch for miles and look as though they are the property of a Winkie farmer (there’s another OZ reference--it is everywhere in my life as I am such an Ozophile) are the fields of oilseed Rape commonly know over here as Rapeseed and known to my US peeps as Canola. They make me eyes red and raw, but do not bring about the sneezing and headache of pine pollen.
But there are other enemies. I am forced to take the dreaded anti-histamine every day of my life and not just hayfever season. The enemy is the hair of the dog (not the hangover cure!) but the hair of the dog or cat or rabbit or guinea pig or rat or whatever hairy creature one can keep for a pet. And rest assured if it is hairy, a child has it for a pet and that child will be precisely the child I am meant to working with. There is nothing amusing about trying to help a small child learn to read and covering their book with your snot.
In the US I took Claritin and if my memory serves the prescription cost me about $30 a month or $360 a year. Over here on the NHS no prescription will cost more than £7 which is good because in the US I routinely paid hundreds of dollars for meds every month. Spiderman even gets his thyroid replacement meds for free here as it is a chronic condition. When we moved here I went to Boots the chemist and bought a box of Boots brand Loratadine--which is generic over here for Claritin--for £7 a month or £84 a year. That sounds like a good deal, but wait for it-watch for falling prices.
A few years ago Boots came out with an even more generic one. You paid £7 for a 28 day supply of pills (£84 a year) if you got the blue box with the picture of the blue sky and the yellow field. But if you bought the white box with the red writing and no picture you paid £1.04 a week or £4.16 a month or £49.92 a year. That’s a huge savings just for going with the ugly packaging. Now that sounds like a good deal, but wait for it--watch out for rising prices. Ha ha--you thought I was going to say falling prices again, didn’t you? Well I can’t because VAT (taxes on items) went up and every thing went up in cost.
So my £1.04 a week or £4.16 a month or £49.92 a year went up a wee bit and became £1.08 a week or £4.32 a month or £51.84 a year. Not much of a change and still less than buying the one in the prettier box. But wait for it--now you can watch for falling prices.
Last month at Wilkinsons (think TG&Y type place) I found generic Claritin in a box for 88p a week or £3.52 a month or £42.24 a year. I like those prices even better. I don’t know if Wilkos (as it is known here locally by all the cool people-- well, by the people) will continue to sell this after hay fever season so I am stocking up. Every time myself or Spiderman go in we buy a couple of boxes at that price. And the boxes are a soothing butter cream yellow and have a pretty picture on the front of all the things it stops you being allergic to. The first is--I swear-- the actual picture of the blue sky/yellow fields from the £7 box of Boots brand Loratadine. It is followed by a photo of a Dalmatian dog--to represent pets which is definitely a problem for me. Next is a picture of a cloth--I assume to represent dust allergies and the last is a photo of someone’s hands in case you are allergic to your own hands. Although, now that I look at it, it probably is to represent skin allergies although to be fair it does look like someone who is allergic to their own body parts.
Since I have to have to take it every day of my life it is nice to be able to save a bit of dosh to put toward the entertainment fund. Just going from the Boots generic at £51.84 a month to the Wilkos £42.24 a month saves us £9.60 a year--enough for 1 train ticket to Cambridge or ¾ of a ticket to London. No too shabby.
all of this math was done by me, scrunching up my face and gnawing the end of my pencil as I scribbled on scraps of paper because our calculator has died and gone to Silicon Heaven (all Red Dwarf fans know what I‘m talking about here.) I believe all my sums to be accurate, but in truth I cannot promise that. If you are a maths scholar, then forgive me. If you are my mother, you’ll think I’m a bloody genius.