I have a cold. It’s almost inevitable that, at this time of year, I will get a cold, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating. It’s one of those particularly annoying ones where you’re lying down to get an early night because said cold has absolutely knackered you, only to find that you can’t breathe through one nostril, and there’s absolutely no way of clearing the bloody thing, no matter how much nose-blowing you attempt, with the irony that you’ve been sneezing what feels like an entire lung out all day hovering over you. Wonderfully enough, I’m also beginning to get the inevitable tickly throat that either signifies the beginning of a cough or a horrendous sore throat. This is probably one of my arguments against intelligent design, because if God decided he should make us suffer horrifically when there’s something wrong with us, then he’s a real arsehole. It would be much easier to have a dashboard embedded in our bodies, telling us when we need to get checked out for something. But no, we get to suffer.
So in order to combat the oncoming sandpaper, I dug out my pack of cough sweets, handily stashed in my personal “medical kit” that I take with me when I’m staying somewhere overnight. This helpful kit contains a bottle of Rescue Remedy for when I’m worried about something, a nail file (because they always snap at the most inconvenient times, and the alternative is biting them to death), a pack of paracetamol with caffeine, a pack of tissues, a spare tin of Vaseline, and, of course, the cough sweets. Halls isn’t my normal brand of cough sweets, but it’d have to do, since it was what I had. Halls appear to come in two flavours, black and red, and both have the unfortunate side effect of tasting medicinal. When I say “medicinal”, I don’t mean in the nice way that Calpol does. Each flavour is as disgusting as the other, but they’re cheap and they do the job, and at the time of purchase, I had a heavy cold and purchasing these meant the shortest journey possible from my bed.
As if this abomination wasn’t enough by itself, they’ve also created a wonderful name to describe the horrific flavour one would encounter upon sticking one of these things in your gob. They call it “mentho-lyptus”. It is horrible. I’m not talking about the flavour, I’m talking about the name they’ve given it. It’s possibly the most middle-class-sounding portmanteau possible and a perversion of the English language. They should be banned from using it. It sounds more ridiculous then “drive thru”, which isn’t even spelt properly. What the hell does “thru” mean, anyway? No, mentho-lyptus is worse than this.
I shall tell you why. First and foremost, it sounds horrendous. It’s two steps away from mentholitis, which sounds like a horrific wasting disease. They could have easily called it something else, especially given that its main flavour is cherry. Why not just have said Cherry Flavour (With Menthol and Eucalyptus)? Considering that’s actually what it is, and also doesn’t sound like the linguistic equivalent of the Go Compare man – a desperate attempt at sounding good enough to be worth paying for. Secondly, that hyphen is entirely redundant. “Mentholyptus” or “menthol-eucalyptus” would have done. What they’ve essentially managed to do is make it look like they can’t decide between a portmanteau or two full words. Finally, the two words themselves just do not belong together. No, no, no, no and also no.
Of course, Cadbury’s, owner of Halls, aren’t the only company guilty of this crime. If I ever have to hear of a McVeggie burger again, I may cry. Language is a delicate art, like music, and this perversion of a fine craft is abhorrent.
Then again, maybe I’m just grumpy because I have a cold.