The wasps in this part of Spain are particularly aggressive. You don´t put out jam to entice them – you use beer. Or better still, since they seem to be cannibals, lure them into a trap with a few carcasses of their dear-departed brothers.
Swimming is a nightmare (well, it is if you want a wasp-free exercise) because no sooner than they sense the turbulence in the water than the little blighters come for a drink – and a sting too if you get too close! Which led me to an edition of The Gentleman’s Magazine from 1788. There had apparently been learned correspondence concerning the effectiveness of “the topical application of laudanum” as a certain cure for stings, and whether this was more effective than a “concoction made of linseed oil two parts, vinegar of squills one part, honey one part: to be rubbed in hard about the wound as long as any smart is felt”
So, first work out if it is a bee or wasp. In the former case pull out the sting with a steady hand and suck (yes, I know it looks like something else, but it is a long ’s’ not an ‘f” ). Rub in your hartshorn drops and Robert is your father’s brother!
Now I am not too sure about hartshorn drops with their “stimulating antispasmodic” qualities; not when I get the choice of applying lead-water instead, or even a cold saturnine poultice. Now you’re talking! Relief must surely be imminent…
But hang on a minute. Maybe we should go straight for the opium or laudanum – after all, it’s “analogous to that of lead”. I think I prefer the idea of some “increased heat upon the part (as opposed to a frigorific sensation)”. So, if you don’t mind, next time I get stung whether by a bee or by a wasp, I intend to raid the bathroom cabinet for a dose of laudanum. I will be in good company - I vaguely remember an elderly Great Aunt, then in her nineties, who was known in the family as being hopelessly addicted to morphine, derived of course from opium. Her sister was similarly addicted and was known to everyone as Aunt Trot – because she was so” hyper” all the time than she ran everywhere…Still, I bet she never suffered from bee stings!
A mid-nineteenth century laudanum bottle, courtesy of BLTC Research