(written in late sixties/early seventies about pharmacy locums in the nineteen fifties)



This book is not written primarily for my fellow pharmacists, though I hope that some of them may find a bit of amusement in comparing their experiences with mine.


It is intended to give a glimpse of our life among the bottles to those who know little or nothing of our work.  For this reason I have deliberately avoided introducing anything in the pay of "professionalism."


I have altered all names, if any name I have used fits any individual, I can only assure them that it is purely accidental.   I have "scrambled" the incidents and descriptions in order to avoid making them too easily recognisable.  apart from "scrambling" everything is true to life.

(Some seventy years later I have taken the liberty, here and there, of revealing real names like Doc her husband and the hospital at Hemel Hempstead - JFH)


                                                                                           Frances Ann Roper. M.P.S.



in the 1950's when pharmacists still made up much of their own medicines.


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen




The poem "The Apothecary" is reprinted by kind permission of PUNCH and

subject to the consent of Sir Alan Herbert's Agents, Messrs. A.P. Watt & Son, to all of whom I extend my grateful thanks.

The poem has been my delight and inspiration since the days of my apprenticeship.




He looks respectable and mild,

Like someone at the Bar;

But then those bottles - Yes my child,

I do know what they are.


Those lovely globes of green and red,

They are not there for fun.

You see?  He simply shakes his head;

He will not give you one.


But if the truth is what you want,

The trust is sweet and short,

For one of them is Creme de Menthe,

The other one is Port.


At even when he feels like sin

He takes them from the shelf,

And asks the naughty doctor in

And just enjoys himself.


He fills a bumper to the brim,

He lights a huge Havana,

And bawls the rude barbaric hymn

To Ipecacuanha.


The Song of Liquorice, the Song

Of Dr. Gregory's Powder;

The doctor sings both loud and strong,

The Chemist sings much louder.


At night they hold those hideous larks

And horrify the street

With pharmaceutical remarks

Which I must not repeat.


They drink the red, they drink the green,

Till they can drink no more,

Then drain a draught of neat quinine

And totter to the floor.


My son, the things you must not be

Compost a lengthy list.

But at the top I plainly see

The wicked pharmacist.                      A.P.H.


  By kind permission of Punch lst March 1922

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