• Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Sideswipe: January 12: You’ve heard of Elf on the shelf …

Jan 11, 2022

No coconut in Scotland?

“My parents met and married in the States. My dad is from Scotland. They moved to Scotland shortly after getting married,” writes a reader. “Early on my mother had wanted to bake something with coconut. She couldn’t find it … My dad told her that you could not buy coconut in Scotland. It just wasn’t something you could get. My mother, in her naivety, talked to the women at a church group, who quickly put her right. My mother went home and tore a strip off my father because he knew full well you could, he just wanted to see how long he could keep it going. They’ll be married 46 years in June and it still comes up.”

Are you entitled to park on tram tracks?

Gary writes: “Sunday morning in the Viaduct. Car parks on tram tracks. Tram driver checks dairy and a cyclist enters busy cafe and asks if driver there. About 30 seconds later sheepish driver comes from café … No apology … Patient tram driver comments that this behaviour/attitude is quite normal.”

The history of the humble gin and tonic

The cocktail was introduced by the army of the British East India Company in India, where malaria was a persistent problem. In the 1700s, Scottish doctor George Cleghorn studied how quinine, a traditional cure for malaria, could be used to prevent the disease. The quinine was drunk in tonic water but the bitter taste was unpleasant. British officers in India in the early 19th century took to adding a mixture of water, sugar, lime and gin to the quinine in order to make the drink more palatable and the G&T was born. Since it is no longer used as an anti-malarial, tonic water today contains much less quinine, is usually sweetened and is consequently much less bitter. A 2004 study found that after 12 hours, “considerable quantities (500 to 1000ml) of tonic water may, for a short period of time, lead to quinine plasma levels at the lower limit of therapeutic efficacy and may, in fact, cause transitory suppression of parasites”. This method of consumption of quinine was impractical, as the amount of drug needed “cannot be maintained with even large amounts of tonic”. The authors concluded that it is not an effective form of treatment for malaria.

Easter already?

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