In a recent instalment, I made the rather rash claim that my body had amazing properties. At the time, I was quick to clarify that these were only amazing because of their bald bizzarreness, rather than any Schwarzenegger-esque attributes. Retribution has been swift too- this last week has seen the body in question put on a display of paralysingly intense tedium and mundanity. I’ve been mentioning that I’ve been sneezing a great deal recently, to the extent of on one occasion whilst down at the local Tesco megastore having security summoned to help during a sneezing attack whilst attempting to purchase a steam cleaner for Her indoors. As serious as that was, it was one of the many small tropical showers indicating the change in the weather which heralds the approach of the Hurricane.
As luck would have it, I had Saturday off, and so I was in the ideal position-lying on the sofa in the quiet bliss of watching a pleasant documentary about the construction of the Docklands Light Railway- when the metaphorical palm trees along the metaphorical seafront here at The Gables began to twist and sway. I started to feel that terrible hot giddyness which every chap knows is the onset of the dreaded man-flu and before I knew it, the first salvo of coughs were fired by my body, before it had even formally declared war on me. It was like Pearl Harbour all over again, but with phlegm. Wave upon wave of coughs descended on your poor scribe, who was by now writhing all over the living room rug like Johnny Weissmuller wrestling a foam rubber crocodile.
As I reached for the Veno’s in a desperate attempt to quell the attacks of the dive-bombing coughs, the shipborne artillery of the sneezing got going. Holed up in the bunker that was my own skull and scared by the ferocity of these attacks, I was getting confused. Every inhalation became some sort of ghastly tracheal tombola. I’d either cough, sneeze, or cough and sneeze simultaneously. Mind you, at least The Body was being at least partially gentlemanly during the convulsions- at no point was there a hint of it going nuclear in the southern regions, if you get my drift.
After the first wave had passed, I took stock. It felt as if the entire contents of my head had been replaced with not quite enough stationery adhesive – you know, that brown clear stuff in the bottle with the little rubber applicator which gums up, and then breaks- so that every time I moved, it slowly sloshed around. Enemy commandos had got in during the storm and so now every part of my breathing apparatus had now been booby trapped with coughing or sneezing landmines. Therefore, the whole respiratory process had to move ahead very slowly and deliberately. By the evening, things had calmed down enough to enable me to experiment with my own personal cold remedy- very hot curry. A phone call was made, and within half an hour Sanjeev and his motor scooter had appeared bearing a Chicken Phal. I reckon I might be onto something- I certainly felt that some air had been let into the clogged tubes by the intense fumes emanating from the dinner, and briefly I could concentrate on the television rather than monitoring the body for the next round of Incoming. I shall write a paper, and present it to Jeremy Hunt. Surely the provision of curry on the NHS is exactly the thing William Beveridge had in mind when he drafted his eponymous report in 1942.
If Saturday was the onslaught, then Sunday was the war of attrition, complicated by the fact that I had to find my way to Margate, and conduct a concert for Kevin Fitzsimmons. Regular reader(s) of this column will know that at the last Sinatra Seaside Spectacklear I did for Kev I was in more or less constantly in pain due to a poorly selected pair of trousers, which I had clearly last worn in 1977. In the second form. This time, the constant medium level discomfort was all from within. On the way down, I probably only had to stop the car twice to get some really big sneezing done, and I knew that I was on the mend as a ferocious appetite was upon me. Had the route not been so well served by petrol stations, all bearing the delicious wares of Messrs. Ginster, I was so repeatedly hungry that I may have been tempted to have a go at the trim on the Volvo. I’d also equipped myself with a bandolier stuffed with Lem-Sip, so after the bandcall and before the show I found a nice sofa and a kettle and embarked on my own version of showbiz drug hell. As luck would have it, I was, in the words of the great Sir Les Patterson, busier than a one armed taxi driver with crabs that night, all of which helped take the mind off the germ warfare equivalent of the Battle Of Thermopylae raging within. Because the theatre’s fire regs would only permit thirteen musicians on stage, I had to fill in on one of the sax parts as well as conduct, and most importantly don the fez during the bar scene part of the show, where I get to play the part of the genial barman and can genially help myself to Kev’s bottle of Bourbon, which he kindly lays on as a prop. Good cold medicine too, bourbon. It will have to join Phall on the paper I submit to the NHS.
As I had no engagements yesterday, I earmarked it as the proper day for having the cold. It felt very much like the Christmas holidays- cold and wet outside, and exhausted with illness inside. At least my Sapper antibodies had cleared my air tubes of the landmines and I was able to breathe normally. All I had to do was wait for the battle to end and keep feeding my army with whatever it requested, which yesterday was mostly anchovy sandwiches and a couple of illicit excursions int Her indoors’ box of Milk Tray. It really felt like a drab day off school- I couldn’t move about the house, except to shuffle off to the fridge, and as I was lying on the bed staring out of the window, I noticed that the four o’clock sky was a uniform mid-grey, just like the paper we got to paint on in the school art block. I’ve not had the time to notice a sky like that for that long in years, and it was all rather beautiful. Every cloud, as they say.