One of the great pleasures I enjoy while travelling is spying products on supermarket shelves that challenge my sense of reality. This happens mostly in non-English speaking countries, where the translations into The Mother Tongue throw up all kinds of novelty (you may recall my adventures in Vietnam), but there are also treasures to be found in countries that actually call English their main language.

The ol’ US of A is a case in point. Exhibit A, to the left here, must surely be the cause of great confusion among the sleep-deprived.

Of course, it all makes sense when you spy the word ‘homeopathic’ under the Hylands name – like all homeopathic remedies it makes a bet each way, simultaneously declaring to be completely effective while also claiming to have no unwanted effects. The product name itself is a masterpiece in doublespeak: Calms Forté: ‘strong calm’ – the implication being that it’s an extra-strength version of the usual formula ‘Calms’. Well, since we know that homeopathy works in reverse to normal logic, this must mean that Calms Forté has even less than the usual ‘active’ ingredient* of standard Calms…

And in our kitchen at work, a product which should surely be walking off the shelves (jumping, even), especially at this time of year.



*It can’t be chamomile. Chamomile contains substances that are actually known to promote sleep (and drowsiness) when taken in appropriate quantities and homeopathic remedies never have an ‘active’ ingredient that makes any sense.