They have names like ‘Sleepy Time,’ ‘Camomile Calm’, and ‘Lemon Grass Soother’ and yesterday hundreds queued in Shanklin, Ryde and Cowes to buy them legally for the first time. The Isle of Wight County Council has ended its ban on ‘relaxing herbal products’, excluding lavender pillows.
‘We’re going straight home to stick on the kettle and a Peter Paul and Mary EP, and get into this Serener Verbena,’ said pensioners Jeanette and David Smith of Ventnor.
‘Before, we would have to get stuff like this from the mainland. But we never felt safe getting it across the Solent. We used to frequent the “brown” tea shops in Bournemouth or Lyndhurst and do the stuff on the premises, but only bring tiny amounts home, carefully hiding it in David’s incontinence equipment, in case of Constable Elliott’s sniffer dog Jimmy being on patrol at Cowes International,’ added Jeanette.
Some islanders are critical of the move. ‘I have witnessed the ill effects at first hand,’ said Lydia Smithers of Shanklin. ‘On holiday in the Lake District in 1991, my late husband Derek suddenly started making shall we say unreasonable demands. This was totally inappropriate for a twin room without en suite at a Christian B and B. Then he confessed to having had two St Johns Wort teas every day when he said he was walking the dog. Things went from bad to worse. He refused to wear a tie the whole holiday and said he was using the computer to contact the Amazon to buy a VHS of something called ‘One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Nest’. This made me suspicious as he has never shown any interest in bird watching. We cannot allow this mind-altering stuff to be sold openly here. I call on the Council to change its mind.’
Alongside herbal products, already packaged for use in so called ‘tea bags’, special paraphernalia is now openly on sale in specially licenced shops. This includes what is known as ‘strainers,’ teaspoons with special crests and special ‘stash’ tins for natural products, as well as gentleman’s ‘floral’ shirts. One claimed side effect of ‘the herb’ is a sudden craving for products like shortbread, ginger nuts and especially ladies’ fingers. These are already firm favourites among traditional tea drinkers on the holiday island. Confectionery shop owner Will Smart said he has noticed an upturn in sales of Munchies, while Meltis Newberry Fruits and Werther’s Originals have shown a slight downturn.
Sandown Councillor John Smithers, who spearminted the move, told reporters: ‘It’s totally hypocritical, in an age when caffeinated products in teas and coffees are openly on sale to adults on the Isle of Wight, for this stuff not to have legal status. Otherwise people will just buy it on the black market on Wednesday afternoons in Bembridge. If wet, in St Mary’s Church Hall. We also predict an upturn in Island tourism, man. And I don’t mean the Isle of Man, man!’ Mr Smithers then appeared to suffer a prolonged fit of the giggles, effectively ending the press conference. Mrs Smithers explained that the issue has meant the Councillor had been ‘under a lot of pressure, recently.’