I HAVE what feels like a cold. No. It’s not man flu. I’m not lying in bed demanding winter warming soup and a hot water bottle.
I was up at six. I fed the cows. I made breakfast and now I’m sitting here writing this. So it’s just a cold. Yes?
Hmmm. What makes it unusual is that I caught it a week before Christmas and it simply will not go away.
I cough myself to sleep at night, my nose is like a tap, and every morning I produce about a pint of phlegm.
I’ve tried everything. Pills. Lemsip. Sitting in front of a roaring fire watching Slow Horses.
Then, on New Year’s Eve, I decided to go down a different route and white knuckled the damn thing, drinking myself into such a state that at one point, apparently, I was even spotted dancing.
And the next morning, lurking behind the headache, there it was.
And it seems I’m not alone. Doctors are saying that, across the country, thousands of others are suffering too from what’s become known as “the 100 day cough”.
Or, as it used to be called “whooping cough”. Apparently it’s my fault I’m suffering because I didn’t get the vaccine.
But who gets vaccinated against whooping cough for crying out loud? It’d be like asking for a jab to protect you from diphtheria or some other medieval plague.
I have so many jabs every year, I look like a colander. It’s almost impossible for me to be hydrated because when I have a glass of water, most of it pours out of the holes in my arms.
I’m up to speed with hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis. So I’m sorry but I didn’t bother protecting myself from something I thought had died out with Disraeli.
Doubtless you thought the same. which is why you too are reading this while producing docker’s oysters the size of jellyfish.
And I would like to extend my sympathy to his friends and family.
But whooping cough can be pretty fatal too. Round the world, it kills nearly 300,000 people every year.
The death rate in poorer-income areas can be as high as four per cent. With babies, things are even worse.
And what fascinates me is that no one is paying much attention to the outbreak here.
Shopkeepers are not demanding we wear masks. Scientists are not working round the clock to find a cure.
I’m not even able to buy a simple testing device that tells me whether I really do have whooping cough. Or just a cold that I made worse by getting so clattered on NYE.
Either way, it’s not the end of the world, because if I do become really ill, I can always see a doctor at my local hospital. No, hang on a minute . . .
Watt a motor wally
EVERY day, people ask me if they should buy an electric car and I’m always staggered by how little they know about the subject.
This week though, the questioning reached a new peak when a girl I was talking to asked why electric cars can’t have one window that you can wind down manually.
I was a bit confused by this, so she tried to explain by saying that after an accident, if the electrics are out, you should be able to wind down one of the windows with a handle so you can get out.
I was still confused so she pointed to her ancient Land Rover Freelander and said that she had an electric car and it worried her.
Then it dawned on me. She thought that an electric car was a car with electric windows.
I fear, then, that the pro-volt lobby still has some way to go before it wins the argument.
Beer is the truth
I’VE never understood why people wouldn’t want to drink in January because, surely, after just a couple of days you must be terribly thirsty.
I certainly haven’t understood the appeal of the so called “dry January”, when you don’t drink anything alcoholic. Because what’s the alternative?
Water? I’m not a plant. I have tastebuds for heaven’s sake.
Elderflower juice is a popular option but it’s so sweet it makes me go cross eyed.
Coca Cola? It’s delicious of course but by the time February comes along you won’t have any teeth.
Ginger beer? I’m not a child in an Enid Blyton novel, so no.
Today, you can buy any number of ultra-low alcohol beers but for the most part they’re like vegetarian burgers. They may look like the real thing but, mostly, they taste awful.
I’ve just launched a new sober beer called Hawkstone Spa. I was going to call it a “driving lager” as it contains less alcohol by volume than a banana.
But this wasn’t allowed. Nor was I allowed to call it a “beer for children”.
So I’m selling it as a “wellness beer” and, though I say so myself, it’s very good. So good it’s nearly sold out.
But here’s the thing about not drinking alcohol, and whisper this, because I’m giving it a go.
You won’t sleep. I go to bed at midnight and then just lie there, eyes wide open and thinking about my Victorian disease, until it’s time to get up.
Probably for the best then if you just crack on.
Sir’s boom time
I SPOKE this week to a 25-year-old chap who described himself as a “retired teacher”.
It turned out that at the London school where he taught eight-year-olds, kids had threatened him with a knife, told him to eff off and, on one occasion, thrown a chair at him.
So he’d decided enough was enough. Can’t say I blame him.
Maybe he should get a safer job next time round. In bomb disposal, maybe.
What will replace end of the roadshow
AT the end of every year we are always reminded about the famous people who’ve died over the previous 12 months.
No one ever does this for cars because cars don’t die. They just get re-invented. Until now. In 2023 we waved goodbye to the Ford Fiesta. There won’t be a new model.
But the most significant news is that Volvo will never again make an estate car. That’s like Heinz giving up with tomato ketchup.
And it begs a question: What are the nation’s antique dealers going to do now? Buy a wheelbarrow?
IT seems there’s a new book called How To Eat Your Christmas Tree.
Not a bad idea, actually. Because last night, I would rather have eaten mine than spend two hours trying wrestle it through the back door – and another two hoovering up all the bloody needles.