THE significance of this line from the well-known song is lost on today’s youngsters.

They are not like the children of my generation, who used to do anything to avoid taking medicine. Nowadays they love it. My daughters only have to suffer a slight tickle at the back of the throat and they’re pleading with me for a dose.

Medicine isn’t what it used to be. When my brother, sister and I were ill, I remember my mother proffering spoons containing revolting-looking liquids, treacle-like in colour and with a horrible medicinal smell.

Today’s potions are like melted sweets, flavoured with every fruit under the sun. “Would you like strawberry, blackcurrant or orange?” pharmacists ask as you buy cough medicine. No wonder children clamour for it.

And it’s a lovely, syrupy texture, not like the engine oil we were fed.

Suffering a stomach complaint last week, I raided our medicine cabinet and came across what looked like a jar of coloured sweets. They were ‘Tums’, which my husband bought when our youngest daughter had a stomach upset. I took a couple, and gosh, were they nice. I had to apply willpower not to sneak back during the night and scoff the lot.

They were a far cry from the Milk of Magnesia I was given as a child for tummy trouble. It tasted disgusting, like chalk.

Even the vile-tasting cod liver oil is now manageable, thanks to capsules which can be downed painlessly with a glass of water. I hate to admit this in case I’m arrested for cruelty, but I occasionally make my children swallow a spoonful neat, just to give them a taste of my harsh upbringing.

Benylin was the first medicine I encountered that tasted nice. I remember it felt weird to enjoy it.

But despite their unpleasant look and taste, some medicines from my youth have yet to be beaten. Last week, I trawled chemists trying to get hold of a bottle of what my husband calls ‘snake oil’.

“You know it contains morphine, that’s why it isn’t widely sold,” the chemist said, when handing over a bottle of the once widely-available J Collis Browne’s mixture, with the bearded-19th century Dr Collis Browne on the label.

It isn’t a great taste – and my husband dismisses it as quackery – but for me it does the trick every time. It has done since childhood and did so again last week. Needless to say, even when doubled up in pain, my children refuse to take it.