I HAVE never been much of a one for taking pills. I am fortunate to have been in reasonably robust health for most of my life, and have had little need of prescription medicines to see me through the day.

My father on the other hand was an avid consumer of tablets to keep a check on his many ailments. He used to make a big production of laying them all out on the table and then telling anyone who would listen what each one was for.

He would intone: “That’s for my blood pressure, heart, angina, indigestion, breathing, painkillers and my widdling pills all sorted out.”

He would fairly rattle when he walked, and also had a couple of inhalers he would take regular blasts on.

A lifetime of heavy smoking and heavier drinking had taken its toll, but he seemed to enjoy his breakfast of medication right to the very end.

We often go on holiday with a couple we met in Greece, and their hand luggage always includes a large attache case crammed with their pills, tablets, sprays and unguents for every occasion.

We took my late mother in law on her first holiday abroad, and Mrs Hextol ensured that she had her medication in her luggage before we left for the airport.

When we reached our destination, the tablets were nowhere to be found, and the old lady said she had decided to take all her tablets out of their blister packs, and put them into a little bottle for easier access and transportation.

“So where’s the bottle?” asked Mrs Hextol.

“I’ve forgetten it,” giggled her mam.

Fortunately, she had one tablet in her bag, which we took to a chemist’s shop, and were able to purchase a two-week supply for considerably less money than the original prescription had been.

I consider myself fortunate that I needed no regular medication at all throughout my working life, except for the odd aspirin or Alka Seltzer after bouts of over indulgence.

Chest infections and the like I have treated myself with my patented dark rum and Vimto panacea, although I did once take some Night Nurse to deal with a troublesome cold after a night out with my brother in law.

I didn’t wake up until noon the next day – but the cold had gone!

I did have to take some super strong painkillers when I suffered a killer bout of kidney stones, and drew some odd looks from staff when I handed in my prescription at a pharmacy in the Metrocentre.

I think they suspected I was a drug dealer out to make a killing with my bottle of morphine tablets.

I only started taking regular medication after suffering my surprise stroke 18 months or so ago, when I was prescribed a blood thinner and statins to keep my already low cholesterol in check.

I took them religiously for over a year, during which time my arms became so weak I needed both of them to lift a cup to my mouth and every joint in my fingers and thumbs ached piteously

I put it down to advancing years, but then a blood test revealed I was just a couple of liquorice allsorts away from becoming a full blown diabetic.

Sweets, biscuits and cakes were all off the menu, but I resisted all temptation for several months – until one day out of boredom I read the leaflet inside my pack of statins.

I try not to read such pieces of paper as they contain lurid details of all the possible side effects of taking the medicine, which often include death, an outbreak of boils and gibbering insanity, but this one stated boldly that two possible side effects of the tablets were pains in the arms, and a rise in blood sugar levels

I stopped taking the statins forthwith, and my arms soon regained at least a modicum of their former brawny efficiency, but I had to book another test to check what effect my statins abstinence had had on my blood sugar.

The readings showed that after three months without the drug, my blood sugar had dropped to its lowest level in more than a decade – on the downside though, my previously low cholesterol level had doubled since I stopped taking the drug.

I am now back on statins, but only half the dose I was previously taking, and await another blood test in the spring to see who is winning the sugar versus cholesterol war.