I'm not normally one for plugging a product, but this is one I feel needs comment - if only because it seems harder and harder to find stores that sell them.
By way of explanation, I'm one of those people for whom winters mean catarrh, an itchy throat, and either a blocked or runny nose. In those circumstances, the potent lozenges from Lofthouse's in Fleetwood are a real life saver: in particular, on the cough-incubator that is the London Underground, they really seem to help ward off infection.
Now I realise that, like Marmite, they are something you either love or hate: the intense combination of menthol and eucalyptus is unrelieved by the sugar you find in other cough sweets, and they are famed for being the strongest lozenges available. I don't exactly love the flavour, and admit that drinking a pint of beer afterwards makes for a weird sensation, but they don't half work: a clear nose and soothed throat are almost guaranteed.
And as far as I am concerned, the other brands of lozenges and sweets simply don't cut it - they might be nicer to suck or chew, but they are child's play in comparison (and those sticky, sugary concoctions can't be good for your teeth, either). Lofthouse have to be doing something right: their product has been going now since 1865.
My only gripe is that they seem to be harder and harder to find. I forget how many stores I have been into, to find they don't sell them - or, worse still, don't even know what I'm on about. (Part of the problem here is London's cosmopolitan workforce: asking for a 'Fisherman's Friend' from someone for whom English is a second language doesn't half get you some strange looks sometimes. By way of example, I discovered today that neither Sainsbury's nor Boots the Chemist in Holborn stock them.
Perhaps I ought to write a guide: 'Where to buy Fisherman's Friends in central London?'