Despite having enough belligerence to forge a successful Third World dictatorship, no matter how hard I fight it always happens. It starts usually on a Monday or just before a weekend away. That flush across the cheeks, the tickle in the throat, then the long drip of brain juice. No longer can I look at coughing tube travellers with amusement and scorn. For I, yet again, am infected. I have a cold.
As soon as it starts I wrack my brain wondering where I failed. Did I touch a rail near a sickly child? Was I sat under the air conditioning unit at work? Did I lounge about in wet clothing? No. I started my Satsuma diet a few weeks ago, so vitamin C is high. I got the scarf out early. Secretly I even undertook a new line of attack by exposing myself slowly to the cold to build up resilience. No heating for me. Yet still I am overcome with aches, pallid skin and boiling eyeballs.
As a kid I was made to tough it out. As a result I was sent to school with a variety of boiled linen spilling from my pockets. That kid sniffing with the giant glasses and permanent red nose, that was me. Cycling through the snow and rain merely extended the snot life; frequently you would find me attempting to rest my head on the handle bars as the weight of my head increased. On and on it went until some little shit came up with a nickname – ‘germinating bacteria blob’. Add that to hay fever during the summer and I was unable to escape it at any time of year. I gave up fighting it when I was made to use ripped up pillow cases while the decent hankies were boiled. Such is my shame.
As a student, I turned to Aloe Vera loo rolls. Shoving a large wad up each nostril gives some relief from the constant dripping. The small portion of my brain not leaking tells me to breathe through my mouth but like someone shouting “don’t look” I realise one side of my face is blocked. A squeak of air might sneak through, but the fury is too much.
There can be nothing more futile than trying to blow your nose clear of mucus. You blow and blow until air escapes from your ear, yet nothing moves. You may even sniff it back, but two seconds after you gag more slides over your sinuses.
Soon comes the desperation. Anything that might make you sleep through this annoyance is worth a try. Lying with your head off the bed seems like a good idea, or laying naked in the vague hope you get some relief from the warmth. It doesn’t; instead your limbs cramp and lock. Holding your head over a steaming bowl merely causes green to clog your throat.
Maybe a quick flick of the wrist will bring blessed sleep – don’t bother as you cannot feel sexy, and the hacking ruins any climax. Spirits such as brandy just loosen the lung butter making you cry as you see yourself decomposing. Cold flannels never stay cold. You desperately want someone to come and wrap you up with a hot chocolate and a kind word, but in reality they’d never make it through the tomb of snot tissues that encases you.
The Daily Mail tells me that I should stick it out. Our dependence on drugs will make it stronger, more resilient in the future. Well fuck that. Right now I don’t think I will survive until tomorrow. I line up cold remedies like Hunter S Thompson on a trip to Vegas. Day Nurse is my religion (not Lemsip, that battery acid-ridden obscenity that sits ageless behind every newsagent’s counter). Mainlining soup laced with chilli and noodles also burns any sign of virus from my insides. As I burn the evil away, it is almost as if the snot evaporates through my pores. It may just be a cold, but by gum I shall not be defeated.
And once it’s gone, I’ll be immune. That’s how disease works, right?