• Philip Bryer

The Neapolitan Temptress

While on holiday with the family in Italy recently, I was packed off to the pharmacy with a brief list of medicinal requirements: the usual vacation relief for insect bites, blisters, limoncello-induced headaches, and the like.


Some fifteen minutes - and seventy-five euros later - I staggered out of la farmacia with a much-larger-than-intended bag of tinctures, pills, and potions, wondering what the hell had hit me and how I was going to explain this lot away.


Instructed to get something for an ear infection I had happily taken ownership of a bumper pack of Dr Quack’s ear candles and some Snake-Oil branded ear-spray, all I could report of which was that you, “Spray, once, twice, in the ear, see?” To what end, I knew not. For insect bites I had a treasure trove of preventatives, soothers, and repellents. We decamped to a congenial bar for the debrief.


“Good-looking salesgirl, was she?” asked Mrs B, lasering in on the nub, as ever.

I sipped my Peroni and considered taking up smoking again.

“No,” I protested. “She was actually a really good-looking pharmacist.”

“Hmmm.”

“In a white lab coat. With a cascade of pitch-dark hair, huge deep-brown eyes and a siren-like voice that dripped these honeyed words into my ear: ‘You are completely in my power’.”

“What’s this stuff?” asked the GLW.

“It’s for mosquito bites.”

“It says on the box that it’s eau de cologne.”

“You mean where it says it’s made from fresh organic flowers and plant extracts prepared according to an ancient recipe found on the banks of the River Nile?” (BTW, it was unclear from the label whether ingredients or recipe were found on the banks of the RN.)

“It’s got nothing to do with insect bites or anything else, it’s just some rotten old perfume. You were turned over by your Neapolitan temptress,” she said (no doubt for dramatic effect).

It was worth it, I thought. However, I said, “That’s just where you’re wrong.”


According to the leaflet inside the box of Eau de Philae, this is what this magical fluid can do:

1. Diluted in bathwater, it exerts its soothing action at its best, helping to reduce your baby’s redness.

2. After depilation, diluted, it helps to relieve redness and promote healing.

3. As an aftershave and refreshing deodorant.

4. As an intimate cleanser, if diluted. (Author’s note: DON’T FORGET TO DILUTE.)

5. In massages it helps to reduce fatigue and soothe muscle pain.

6. Natural sanitizer for hands and the environment.

7. Regenerating and toning for the skin.

8. Acne purifier.

9. TO SOOTHE THE ITCHING OF INSECT BITES. (My caps.)

10. EFFECTIVE REPELLENT FOR MOSQUITOES AND WASPS. (My caps.)

11. It helps to combat skin inflammations.

12. Adjuvant in the treatment of eczema.

13. It helps the healing of small skin lesions and burns.

14. It helps to soothe discomfort caused by bedsores.

15. Useful in the treatment of chilblains.


Clearly, every home should have some of this miraculous, multi-functional elixir which came at the bargain price of…well, as I tore up the receipt, I simply couldn’t say.


After spraying some of this excellent essence on my three lingering mozzie souvenirs early this morning, they haven’t bothered me all day. I am also sure that if I hadn’t distracted the attention of my lovely wife by reading out the fifteen points listed above, I might also have discovered how good it was on bruises.


“So, darling,” I asked, “have I convinced you?”

“Smells like fly killer,” she sniffed.






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