This was one of the reasons I was fidgeting uncomfortably as I waited in the queue for the security checks.
Another was that I was not accustomed to wearing a suit and a neat tie with its knot thrust firmly against my throat. A third was that my imminent appointment was with royalty!
I had been invited to Kensington Palace, to a reception in support of The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) UK, a charity for which I have recently become an ambassador.
Princess Michael of Kent is the royal patron and was the host this sunny afternoon. I was excited to have the chance to meet her and learn more about the work of the CCF in saving this most amazing animal.
Royal security protocols would surely not allow my peculiar liquids into a palace.
Two days earlier, I’d had a message from someone at the charity. Their vet from Somaliland had arrived.
Laurie looked after baby cheetahs which were ill. She was also in charge of the livestock guarding dog programme, which has been so successful in reducing cheetah-human conflict.
Farmers are given Anatolian dogs, which live with their goats to warn away predators such as cheetahs. Loss of habitat has forced wild animals into much closer contact with humans in recent decades, but keeping one of these dogs with the herd means the cheetahs steer clear of livestock – so they are less likely to be shot by farmers.
Laurie was desperate for some vitamin injections for the sick cheetah cubs under her care and this was what the message had been about. I promised to try and find some, although I feared that particular solution of vitamins and amino acids had been discontinued.
Certainly, I hadn’t seen any for many years. Back in the day, the amber elixir was used in any circumstance where a boost was required or if a diagnosis was inconclusive. Old vets would inject big syringes into the drip bags of any poorly patient. Ironically, the resulting yellow liquid infusion was often dripped intravenously into jaundiced dogs and cats, as if fighting yellow with yellow.
On one fateful occasion, late at night and many years ago, a tired and short-sighted senior vet set up a drip for a sick Doberman. It was golden yellow and he presumed it was the marvellous vitamin mix. But, so the story goes, in his nocturnal daze, he hadn’t read the label and the dog benefitted from a slow intravenous infusion of dilute iodine solution!
Luckily, there were no ill-effects and the dog’s internal organs were thoroughly cleansed.
After a bit of searching, I managed to find a supplier and ordered a couple of bottles, which I stowed in my bag. I didn’t know how I was going to convince the security people of my story.
Luckily, just in time, Laurie appeared. We spoke for a while about our common interests and I gleaned information hungrily from this enthusiast. Then finally I got chance to open my bag.
“I’ve got you a present, Laurie. It’s for your cheetah cubs. I didn’t think this was still available, but these two bottles should help.” With a grin all over her face, Laurie held the prized bottles aloft, just like baby Simba in the Lion King. My mission was accomplished!
The Yorkshire Vet continues on Tuesday evening at 8pm on Channel 5.