A bit before Christmas I came down with a cold. Nothing serious, just the simple misery of not being able to breathe and the feeling of unripe avocados stuffed into my sinuses. And copious quantities of nose juice, of course. Undeterred, I went to work and popped into the local Sainsbury’s to buy some decongestant, vague admonitions against English cold remedies (thank you, Eva) knocking around in the secret bunkers of my ibuprofen-addled brain. Swallowed two tabs, went to the office.

As the day lengthened I felt worse and worse. Up to the nines with various analgesics, I checked out the decongestants, and slowly realized that what I had bee relying on to make me feel slightly less blocked than the Blackwall Tunnel actually contained phenylephrine, which, as you probably know, isn’t really effective yet can’t be used to make meth. Whereas the decongestant that does work is all but unavailable in the Tottenham Court Road area (as I soon ascertained to my immense dissatisfaction). Fortunately, after convincing the pharmacist at the Surrey Quays Tesco that I knew what I was doing I obtained some ‘Non-drowsy’ Sudafed® and was soon able to breathe, and to sleep again.

A week or so ago, Jenny complained of what she thought was an allergic reaction. After her experience with seafood last year she wasn’t keen to take any chances and asked if I had any antihistamines. I did, and proffered them.

“Are they non-drowsy?” she asked. I admitted that I didn’t know, because antihistamines don’t make me drowsy at all (I must have a storming blood-brain barrier). She took one anyway, and spent the next 48 hours in a near-coma. Ah.

So then this reaction actually turned out to be a cold, complete with avocado sinuses and other unpleasant side-effects, so I suggested she took one of my ‘Non-drowsy’ Sudafeds®s. The ones, as I say (pace Eva), that actually work. Which she did.

And you know the ‘Non-drowsy’ bit? Well, it turns out that one of the side-effects of pseudoephedrine is, uh, non-drowsiness. Serious non-drowsiness. Again, I didn’t suffer from this, but Jenny did. In spades.

Therefore, if she’s willing (or when she’s looking the other way), I’m going to feed her one of the ‘Non-drowsy’ Sudafeds®s with one of my ‘May cause drowsiness’ antihistamines and see if she notices.

All in the name of Science, naturally.