The Running Man on Acute Coryza

Last night, deflated by missing a post and unable, once again, to sleep I happened to stumble across a BBC web page which said that the symptoms associated with the new ‘Delta’ variation of Covid-19 are those of the Common Cold, and it struck me then that, quite frankly, the cold is not quite so common anymore is it?

You know the way things go. 

Mask wearing, socially distancing, hand-washing humans, it appears, are not nearly as susceptible to colds as in the past.  I know exactly where I got my last cold from: from the same place as all grandparents catch their colds.  Grandchilden: the ultimate Super-spreaders.  No evil power ever has to devise a missile with which to deliver the agents of biological warfare; just load up a grandchild.  When they’re out for a cuddle, the presence of a three inch snot-trail across their face is not going to stop them from giving you one.  I believe that it is probably in the small print of Domestos: ‘Kills 99.9% of all known germs, unless they are associated with a weeping child’.  Whatever it was that Tony Blair and George W. were hoping to find in Iraq, they were looking in the wrong place.

The Common Cold is not a serious complaint (unless you are a man) and its effects are not too bad – I find that breathing is probably overrated anyway – but by and large I could manage perfectly well without them, thank you very much.  The snotty, runny-nosed sneezing phase is one upon which I normally only embark on the morning of an interview.  Crispin Underfelt will recall that when we first gathered together for the recording of our radio series- so many moons ago that Apple was just the label used by the Beatles and a laptop was something you rested your dinner plate on –  I was mucus-filled and consequently sounded just like every other adenoidal local radio broadcaster on the tapes.  If my cold had not cleared up by the second recording session, I think I might have been offered a job.

And I cannot consider running with a cold.  I get out of breath just thinking about it and my throat is so sore that I dare not suck air through it except in the minimal amounts called for by total slothfulness.  The combination of blocked-up nasal passages and sore throat means that breathing is accompanied by what I can only describe as a death rattle.  My hooter** will become bright red and sore, my limbs will feel like they belong to somebody else and I will not run even if the rain has stopped – especially if the flashing lights are no longer in the sky, but behind my eyes and the rumble is not of thunder, but of my chest trying to do something, anything, with the meagre amount of oxygen it is receiving.  If (by dint of some miraculous tear in the space/time continuum) I saw me running towards me with a cold, I would immediately be looking for the man with the scythe chasing on behind.  I sound like a man who is far too ill to be in the mortuary, let alone running around the village streets in a pair of baggy shorts and a T shirt clearly made to fit somebody else.

The Cold will return when Covid restrictions get lifted and will, doubtless, make a real nuisance of itself in the absence of recently modified antibodies.  Surely Science is missing a trick by searching for cures for specific diseases, when what it really needs to do is to come up with a multi-purpose antibody, perhaps a miniature Batman equipped with a utility belt or a midget Iron Man with a medical A-Z.  Like a biological McAffe, but without the tendency to make everything else crash around it.

Anyway, in place of the Cold, everybody seems to have hay fever at the moment.  However, the rain has now arrived, the pollen has all washed away, the air is clearer and, despite my increasing slothfulness, I will be able to run today after all.  Unless, of course, I catch a cold in the meantime.

You know the way things go.

*Acute Coryza is one of the many scientific names used for The Common Cold.  It is seldom used by doctors as such a diagnosis is always followed by the patient saying “Why thank you doctor, I think yours is very cute too.”

**Nose – usually when of the size and shape of W.C. Fields proboscis.

The first running post, ‘Couch to 5k’ is here.
Last week’s running post ‘A very Hot Business’ is here.
A sneaky extra running post this week ‘An abject apology’ is here.

Not Just Any Old Common or Garden Cold

“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.