I had a sore throat. When Aldous noticed it, his face lit up. He was dying to cure me. He knew what to do. Would I accept his therapy? How could I turn down a good friend’s therapy?

He proposed to prepare some gargling mixture for me. I was relieved to hear “gargling”, because that’s different from “swallowing”. Also I was naively thinking of taking it home and then to do with it as I pleased. Not so Aldous. He made sure. He returned from his house – I was staying by their swimming pool where my daughter was enjoying herself – with a glass containing an opaque mixture. I had to use it in his presence! Also it turned out that I had to gargle first and then…swallow the liquid! I kept smiling while enquiring what the components of the mixture were. I felt that since I was to take it, I was entitled to know. He as a scientist should have a lot of sympathy with my request. He, too, kept smiling, not saying a word.

I looked back at him, waiting. His wife was getting uncomfortable. She said in a slightly reproachful tone: “Maybe there is a bit of Zn in it” meaning that I should have known. I suppose I should. I inquired about a possible disinfectant and he said: “There might be a bit of sodium in it…”, smiling expectantly all the while. I decided I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and demonstrated my ability to gargle. My daughter thought I was very good at that. Then I swallowed it as told. I repeated this several times until the glass was empty. I remarked that after a while I had tasted some sort of bitterness. Zn no doubt.

Aldous said this was very interesting. He thought to himself that, maybe, I wasn’t Zn deficient after all – I knew he had considered this as an obvious possibility – and said aloud that my taste buds had been activated through the mixture. Perhaps this is a scientifically sound statement – he should know being the expert. Anyway, I had the impression that the lubrication did my throat good and he was pleased to notice an immediate effect. Next day I was much better which he noted with great satisfaction. Of course, he knew why, whereas I didn’t. He offered me another gargle – I don’t know whether jokingly or seriously – which I turned down jokingly.

I knew he had been worried about my state of health. I lost a little weight recently and was feeling tired. I couldn’t hide it from him and couldn’t very well tell him the reason for it either. He would have been shocked!! I looked a bit the “anorexic” way, I suppose, and you know what the remedy for that is. Zn! Of course, when you’re Zn deficient you’re not supposed to taste it!