After reading of my Tinder dating adventures a colleague politely suggested "that surely upping your intake of bromide might be less bother?"

The advice sounded like a good idea, having been swamped with offers to meet up for coffee, since publishing my column last Sunday.

I'm as yet unclear if the ladies who've responded merely wish to share a flat white, or are interested in my quest to be the oldest person on Tinder to discover marital bliss.


With more than 75 offers at last count, this suggests a serious shortage of eligible men.

Clearly the idea of quaffing bromide might save a lot of strife, if only I could be sure that it worked. That the mess-room tea was supposedly dosed with bromide remains one of the great mysteries of World War II.

The military logic was supposedly to reduce the sexual appetite of the troops - not particularly to save the virtue of innocent young ladies, but to stop the spread of venereal diseases, as they were then known.

A younger generation only recognises the dreaded poxy terms of yesterday by today's definition: STIs.

However, anybody subjected to call-up service pre-1960 will remember the stern lectures on the dangers of fornication without protection. On the matter of tea laced with the drug, we were sure that the beverage tasted differently on a Friday and Saturday night before the barracks were deserted for an evening's frolicking in the nearby town.

While it is possible that the chemical was administered to supposedly dampen military ardour, it is generally acknowledged to be a barrack-room myth.

As Spike Milligan stated in one of his wartime accounts, "The only way bromide would have any effect on a randy British soldier, would be to load it into a 300lb shell and fire it at him from the waist down."

Illustration / Peter Bromhead
Illustration / Peter Bromhead

So, how did the chemical gain a reputation as a libido deterrent?

Well, possibly, from its early 19th century use as a way of sedating children at the dinner table by offering them their own personal salt shaker laced with bromide.

This was the era when children should be seen and not heard.

Today, of course, the salt shaker has been replaced with the iPad or mobile as the proven way to keep children quiet at the dinner table.

On the subject of children, another wartime myth that is still strongly believed by youngsters is that carrots are an excellent vegetable for improving night vision.

This particular myth was invented by a British Ministry department to mislead German intelligence, by suggesting that the reason RAF night fighters had the ability to shoot down an unusually high number of enemy aircraft, was because their pilots were being fed a daily helping of carrots which improved their night vision.

In reality, the RAF wanted to keep a new type of radar fitted to their night fighters a closely guarded secret. The ruse worked so well, even the gullible Germans commenced feeding their Luftwaffe pilots heavy doses of the vegetable.

That my 7-year old son loves eating raw carrot today, firmly believing that it will improve his night vision, is a testament to Britain's wartime propaganda.

In the meantime, if anybody has a few dregs of bromide still buried in their wartime kitbag, well, I could be interested - if the price is right.