I’ve been semi out of action for the last week or so. I’ve functioned on some levels but not on others, and that’s because I’ve been ill. All that mask wearing and avoiding people means our immune systems are shot to shit and so now that we have some ‘supercold’ (or is it super-cold, or Super Cold, or who cares?) slicing through the country like a chainsaw through an aubergine, we’ve been led to believe that half the population are breathing snot while the other half are clogging up the system with a virus that still hasn’t gone away. I expect it’s not quite that bad, but neither is it much good. I wonder how long it will be before a few restrictions start to pop up again. They won’t go down well: I’d say roughly about as well as a red faced, indignant conspiracy theorist threatening a child outside a vaccination centre. Or a different, yet equally red faced, indignant conspiracy theorist loudly comparing an exhausted off duty nurse to, oh I don’t know, Heinrich Himmler. They won’t go down well, these restrictions (which may well not even happen, although they will, of course), because although we’ve been a bit sloppy recently and we are governed by a cluster of consummate imbeciles we just can’t bear to admit we’ve been wrong. We haven’t even got to December yet. They were playing ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’ in the Co-Op this morning; but it isn’t. It’s pretty much looking like another dull, slow November, and I have a cold. Christmas songs in the Co-Op in the middle of November. And they wonder why people go on killing sprees.
I hadn’t quite forgotten what it feels like to be ill but it’s certainly been a while since the last lime I had to stuff a tissue up my nose in the middle of the night to prevent a small puddle of mucus accumulating on my pillow case. If you want me to tone down the sexy talk just say so. It’s been in me for a week now, starting with a hint of sore throat, followed by a lot of gooey nasal action and, for a couple of days, a spiky cough. It’s been bad enough to warrant taking a day of work (which doesn’t happen all that often) and I haven’t set foot in the gym since Monday. I can’t imagine I’ve been missed all that much, but you never know. I’ve managed to float through it all on a raft of tissues, Lemsips, cough mixture, self loathing, early-ish nights and various combinations of medicinal alcohol (the last of which probably haven’t helped at all, but in another sense have been really rather nice) but I have still yet to reach the calmest waters, and as I write this I can feel a gently pulsing bubble of grot beginning to re-gather in my right nostril. If you’re starting to feel aroused I totally understand.
Still, it is just a slightly glorified cold, and I should really be grateful it is nothing more significant. After all, it seems that at the moment you really, really don’t want to be suffering too much from much, because a bit of bad luck could mean curtains. If you’ve had a stroke or a heart attack then you’ll have to wait quite a bit longer than you’d want for an ambulance these days. Due to all the usual problems, that everyone can identify but no-one can solve, there just aren’t enough ambulances or enough drivers to drive them and I’d imagine there also aren’t enough people to answer the phones either because they’re all answering more important calls from idiots who can’t open the toilet door at their local KFC. And even if you do get picked up before you’re dead you’ll have to wait a while at the hospital for someone else to die so you can get their bed because there just aren’t any spaces left. It’s a bit of a mystery, but that’s alright, because Sajid Javid says it’s alright, because he’s an optimist and when there are no ambulances and no beds left that’s what you need to come and solve the problems you have successfully identified thanks to them being bloody obvious: a little sprinkle of optimism. The optimism of a clown. Sajid also says that if we behave ourselves we’ll get to save Christmas, though if Christmas means listening to Perry Como in the Co-Op in mid November then I’d frankly much rather skip it altogether and get on with ignoring Valentine’s Day instead.
So, better to be low level ill than ill ill. Properly ill. And being ill isn’t just about being ill: poor health brings so much more than pain and misery. As someone in a far trickier spot than myself pointed out the other day: being ill is so fucking boring. If you’re ill at home you can’t go anywhere and you don’t feel well enough to enjoy food or TV or company, and on top of that you have to lie awake feeling ill or worrying if you might get worse or that you might never get better. Beyond that it gets worse as you’re in and out of hospital, taking the risk that you might pick up something really nasty or that the nurse who’s treating you is so tired they’ll inject you with the wrong drug, or so disillusioned with the NHS that they’ll accidentally put a pillow over your face and sit on it until you quit wriggling. Being ill means being reliant on drugs and others and not being able to do what you normally do to stave off boredom, and that in itself is boring. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this – because I’ve become bored of not writing and bored of violent sneezing fits and bored of waking up to find the holes in my head have been ‘secreting’ stuff for most of the night (I really should take up erotic fiction) and that my nose is so angry that it is perpetually poised to fire itself off my face and into the lamp shade. Don’t pity me, but if you’ve been ill lately then I hope it has passed and if you haven’t then don’t get too cocky because something is coming your way sooner or later. This is how it’s always been and it’s just typical that the one time we were saved our usual bits of seasonal illness was due to the fact we had something even dodgier to contend with. Never mind, cheer up, I imagine Sajid Javid is totally on top of all this. And by that I mean he hasn’t got a fucking clue.
G B Hewitt. 13.11.2021