When I was growing up in South London during the 50s and 60s, one of my best memories is visiting East Street Market in Walworth. It had everything then and was immense, sprawling far out among the side streets in a way that makes Brick Lane seem insignificant. Afterwards we would walk up the Walworth Road to Elephant & Castle, to pay a visit to Baldwins the herbalist. My mother, a nurse in a hospice, had got hooked on “health foods” (which then was different to “whole foods”) and this place stocked them all. But what I liked about it the most was how it looked (and smelt). Totally unlike anywhere else (apart from the old warehouse district that we would visit next at Borough), as if it had been there forever, at least back to Dickensian times, unchanged. How amazing then to discover despite all the horrors which the area has been subjected to since (by a left-wing dictatorship), Baldwins still exists. And this winter I received their 2013 catalogue. Sadly it appears from the glossy razor-sharp graphics nothing remains of the old shop, the products too are more reminiscent of Silver Lake in Los Angeles than age-old herbalism. But what caught my eye in particular were two disturbing references to something potentially very sinister. On page 44, under the heading of TINCTURES reads: “The new legislation means that we will only be able to sell some Tinctures while stocks last. Order now to avoid disappointment.” And on page 65, under the heading HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES RANGE: “Due to circumstances beyond our control we have had to limit our range of Homeopathic remedies.” No further explanation. Confused I emailed the shop. When the reply eventually came (Christmas orders apparently more important than offering service or reassurance to customers) there was no further clarification, only the suggestion that I contact the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). I did, and while waiting emailed all the homeopathic regulatory organisations and remedy manufacturers, as well, asking them the same question. Only the MHRA bothered to answer, referring me to the consolidated medicines legislation (Human Medicines Regulation 2012) which took legal effect on the 14th of August, 2012. I’ll save you the trouble of reading the link, this is totally impenetrable stuff, and given the weird veil of silence that has descended over the whole subject I guess deliberate. So once again it seems the powers that be, that continue to reign over the “subjects” (not “citizens”) of the UK, are crushing the opposition. I can only assume therefore that homeopathy from now on is only going to be available through the NHS (ergo: not at all). If I am wrong please will someone who can actually understand what is going on please write and explain.
Meanwhile outside its hallowed shores still enjoy freedom. Here in Spain we can choose not to use the NHS, alternative doctors are fully qualified, and remedies can be obtained from any high-street pharmacy within 12 hours. Long may this continue.