Why Not Review: Pill Popping

PHOEBE LUCKHURST researches Boots’ ways to make more hours in the day.

Berocca Boots Fish Oil Omega 3 Pro Plus Veronika Kantorovitch

Boots Essential Omega 3 Fish Oils

£1.49 for 30 capsules (Boots)

These are enigmatic. They don’t actually purport any claim whatsoever as to their effects, leaving them conveniently closed to rational disproval. If they don’t claim to do anything in particular, how can I determine whether they fail? It’s simply ingenious! Why, then, did I buy them? Well. Omega 3 seems like A Good Thing. I couldn’t detect any trace of this promised Omega 3 (possibly because Omega 3 doesn’t smell of anything) but I certainly could smell the fish. Don’t open these in a library unless you get off on looks of mild revulsion as people detect the fug of indeterminate aquatic reptile that rises when you break into the tub. I swear it was sort of like the little cloud that rises whenever Roadrunner canes it into the distance.

Aesthetics: Notwithstanding aforementioned odour, the little tablets did look like magic beans. Taking too many might lead to regression to childhood pleasures, re: the previous sentences.

Effects: I smell like a fishtank because I took five. I think I could feel my brain expanding but that might just have been the migraine I got later on that afternoon.

Conclusions: I still don’t know what Omega 3 is or is meant to do. Perhaps it was the name of the goldfish killed to produce the tablets.




£4.39 for 15 tablets (Boots)

I’d always confused Berocca with Bazuka (‘of Bazuka that veruca!’ fame). Personally, I blame Boots for an advertising campaign that confers no information other than that ‘the girls’ are en route – ‘the girls’ being a group of twenty-something women whose life is one long indeterminate celebration, the cast changing occasionally when a blonde one transgresses the line from twenty-something to thirty and one of the brunette loses ‘it’, ‘it’ being the ability to contort her face into an expression of maniacal joy about receiving a Gillette Lady Shaver. My nascent grasp of physiology (foot is not head) always led me to be mildly perplexed as to why somewhat would try to remedy a warty foot by imbibing an effervescent tablet. An actual visit to Boots’ aisles corrected the error. I am as yet undecided as to whether to write an strongly-worded letter.

Aesthetics: Rectangular box is awkward to carry in clenched fist whilst also trying to carry plastic UL bag and talk on phone – pointy corners left dents in my hand – although fast moving arrow on box gave me hope that I too could fly across a green background chasing a tablet. Orange and green suggest Berocca is trying to masquerade as an organic antidote to Pro Plus et al (‘free from sugar and artificial stimulants’) but anything that effervesces and is fluorescent orange seems awfully artificial to me.

Effects: My stomach gurgled for a while. The idea that tablet was now effervescing inside my stomach caused brief moment of panic when I realised stomach was full of acid, what if I accidentally blow up? Then I remembered my grasp of foot is not head, reckoned that probably wouldn’t happen, and calmed down.

Conclusions: I was promised ‘a really good day’. No tablet can steer Fortune’s Wheel. Less dangerous marketing would have been ‘a better day’, possibly with exclamation mark. ‘Better’ is relative. ‘Really good’ implies intrinsic quality and is thus setting itself up for defeat.



Pro Plus

£2.49 for 36 tablets (Boots)

Pro Plus is one of those things that the naïve always mistake for Modafinil. When I came into the library wielding a box of these, I noticed offended susurrations coming from a corner I’ve nicknamed ‘Who’s Who’, mainly because I don’t know who any of them are and I thought it was funny and incisive at the time. It isn’t, but that’s what I was hoping Pro Plus would do. Come up with those funny and incisive comments that will make my essay on Hamlet different from every other essay on Hamlet ever. I kind of saw it as a wunderkid of the energy tablet genre.

Aesthetics: Pro Plus looks a bit evil. If you squint a little that tick almost looks a little like a Hitler moustache and at the very least the red block capitals are rather brash. It’s vulgar, the bad uncle of energy remedies. Even the ‘Caffeine’ squeezed in blue at the bottom, less ostentatious than the ‘PRO PLUS’ seems a little underhand. ‘Caffeine’ is a dirty word, a scourge of the nation’s children, too high from Coca Cola and ADHD drugs to aspire to learn the three Rs, so they’ve squeezed it in as a concession to truth whilst drawing emphasis to the ‘PRO’ (connotations: positive, happy thing, opposite of ‘con’) and ‘PLUS’ (connotations: positive, happy thing, opposite of ‘negative’).

Effects: I started tapping the table with my pen repeatedly until my opposite neighbour gave me a glare so withering that I actually felt a awe-inspiring rush of adrenaline for being hated quite so much by someone I had never spoken to. Maybe it was this rush, but I definitely felt more alert.

Conclusions: The Big Bad Boy proves might is right. Excessive alliteration, monosyllables and rhyme may or may not be unaccredited side effect of Pro Plus.



Boots Vitamin B Complex: ‘Helps maintain energy levels’

£3.49 for 90 tablets

I was promised this would ‘help maintain energy levels’. Since mine are hovering somewhere between ‘comatose’ and ‘corpse’ I wasn’t particularly reassured by the mission statement.

Aesthetics: Easy open tub perplexed me. Rather like woman and the apocryphal indeterminate jar I twisted and twisted but made no progress. I needed someone to help, and yes, he was male although he was less excited about getting to show off his strength than exasperated by me. Note to self: tub of tablets not good flirting prop. Apparently the knack is to squeeze imperceptibly at the same time, unlocking 90 of what also look like magic beans but different magic beans. Darker magic beans, the sort of magic beans that, when ingested, result in a three hour ‘trip’ from which you awake, limbs hanging out of a bush, wearing a traffic cone on your head and minus the sole of your shoe.

Effects: Half an hour after taking one I had an ‘episode’ (sudden frantic flicking through folder, tearing page out, staring at it inscrutably and then collapsing in a heap – with an accompanying moan of despair – as I realised the answer to Gawain and the Green Knight wasn’t ‘must re-do translation – this is shit!!’ as my notes from Lent ‘09 implied). I blame this on the ‘selection of B vitamins which help to release energy from your food’. I also swear blind I had a hot flush à la menopause.

Conclusions: These made me feel funny, but not good funny. Bad funny like waking up, limbs hanging out of a bush with a traffic cone on your head and minus the sole of your shoe.