“This is not just any cold*,” purrs the voice inside my head, “this is a Marks & Spencer’s cold.” This is not just a headache, it is a proper banger. Come on, why would I even want to swallow? Breathing freely is just so overrated. Nothing makes you feel as frail as a cold. To be laid so low by what is the most trivial of diseases leaves you feeling incredibly puny. The problem with this kind of cold is that you cannot disguise it: it’s there, ever-present in your voice, unmistakably lodged in your bright red hooter. Now is the time that the surgical mask is for keeping in rather than keeping out – not so much of a blessing when what it keeps in is a great, snotty sneeze. Nobody likes a shiny moustache. I am currently feeding my cold, although it is almost inevitable that I should actually be starving it. If you know the answer, please keep it to yourself, unless it involves chocolate.
Why is it even called a cold, and given that it is, why isn’t a fever called a hot? It cannot be anything to do with the prevailing weather: in the UK everything we caught would be called cold, wet and miserable. Given that a cold tends to involve head to toe muscle aches, a blinding headache, a throat that’s filled with saw blades and a nose that’s filled with God-knows-what, you’d have thought that somebody would have come up with a better name. Let’s face it, if footrot can muster up tinia pedis, an ice cream headache gets sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia and an ingrowing toenail gets unguis incarnates what has a cold got to do to be given a glamorous name – be adopted by Angelina Jolie?
Apparently (thank you Wikipedia) the common cold – let’s make it sound even more mundane – is caused by a toxic brew of up to two hundred separate virus strains, all with the kind of fancy names we crave (my favourite being acute coryza, because it just sounds suitably miserable) but because it is such a cocktail, none of them appear to have stuck. If it was made of alcohol it would be called ‘Knickers off and soundly spanked on the bottom’ or ‘Sweaty nights between the sheets’ or similar. I wonder what a bartender would make of a two hundred ingredient recipe? (I tried to look-up a fancy name for a cocktail maker, but I couldn’t find one, although someone suggested Alchemist. My experience is that Maker of the Ultimately Disappointing would be much more appropriate.)
One of the main ‘risk factors’ for catching a cold is listed as ‘going to child care facilities’. I do not do that, I am the child care facility: the little blighters bring their bounty to me. Childcare bubbles have so much to answer for. It’s impossible to look after children without being exposed to everything to which they, themselves, have been exposed. Children are super-spreaders of everything (including joy, as it goes) but I’d quite like them to keep some of the more unsavoury stuff to themselves.
What a cold does do is to rob you of concentration. The brain that normally allows thirty-minute slots of application, begins to falter after five. Ideas that are normally hammering to be released have taken to their beds in a darkened room where they are drinking hot toddies and watching 1970’s sitcoms. Consequently I write in short bursts, I drink coffee, I moan interminably and I stop as soon as I’ve had enough…
*Just so that you know, I have to Covid test twice a week and it isn’t that – so you can put your bargepole away now.
N.B. I have today been hit by the glitch that many of you have been suffering for some time. Font size has altered randomly, some has been bold, some has been in italics. I think I have now got it where it should be, but if not, I apologise. Not my fault – obviously.