I remember travelling through Southern Spain way back in the early seventies with my family and Jackie my girlfriend.
I was nineteen and naturally somewhat naive but full of self - confidence. Having spent the previous year working as a hotel receptionist, my Spanish was quite fluent. Of course, fluency is not everything and although I had been reasonably well educated, my vocabulary, especially in relation to medical terms, in English or Spanish, was extremely limited.
Alas, by the time we reached our destination, the sunny Costa del Sol, Jackie had become quite sick. The symptoms seemed to suggest that she may have contracted tonsillitis. Following mum’s orders I immediately went to the nearest pharmacy to procure some medication which might help to soothe poor Jackie’s sore throat, at least until we could see a doctor. The chemist supplied me with a packet of rather large bullet shaped tablets which were to be taken after eating, one tablet per day. Suffice to say after I had explained the treatment and offered her the first dosage with a large glass of water, encouraging her to be brave and swallow the enormous pill, she began to choke. In fact, the effect of trying to swallow the medicine was so dramatic that she suddenly turned very pale, almost green and began to froth at the mouth. Seconds later she started to vomit at which point my mother arrived on the scene. Gravely concerned she grabbed the pack of tablets and frantically tried to decipher the ingredients. Seething with frustration and alarm she yelled at her bewildered son, me that is, “Stephen you idiot, these are suppositories.” To which I replied as calmly as I could while pleading ignorance, “I’m sorry mum but I have no idea what suppositories are!!” Of course I do now, having learned the hard way!
To cut a long story short. Despite the confusion and discomfort on her part, panic and ignorance on mine, Jackie eventually recovered and forgave me. How true it is, “A little knowledge can be dangerous”.