The Common Cold – A Sap on Creative Ability.

Being ill over the festive season is a little bit like the impending cuts to our public services: you don’t want it to happen but are almost entirely unable to prevent it; it seems inevitable and yet you approach the end of the year hopeful that you can fend off the multiplying viral nasties which surround you. Flying for a living doesn’t help of course; it is one thing to defend against domestically cultured germs, but throw into the mix a cosmopolitan, trans-continental collection of well-travelled colds, and there really is no chance. I keep being told that I “must be immune by now” to cold and flu viruses: presumably because I spend my working life trapped with thousands of them at 30,000 feet.

This is not correct.

I am currently recovering from a delightful cold which announced itself quite suddenly in the middle of the night last week. You see, I made the fatal mistake of assuming that I had made it through the season in rude health. This is a sure way of opening the door to any passing virus looking for an opportunity to colonise a new host. Inevitably, this occurred the day I was due back at work and since I wasn’t ill enough (yet) not to work, I took my new friend on a little holiday to Calgary, ( minus twenty degrees and snow flurries). Needless to say, by the time we returned, one of us had sapped the strength of the other.

Still, at least I started the year sober and booze free. There is an upside to everything. I’ve lost three kilos already and haven’t had to spend any cash to do it.

Less positively, I haven’t felt like writing a word for a while, have missed #fridayflash and have lost the creative urge. I think this is a natural reaction: all energy must be directed at lifting the soup spoon to the mouth, whilst saving just enough to lift the phone to speak feebly to someone. To let them know of course.

I am now feeling myself again, and am sure that inspiration is just around the corner, so please come back for more fun at the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange this week. In the meantime, I think I’ll let someone else do the work: Ogden Nash obviously suffered from a similarly unpleasant sniffle at one time and seems to really understand just how much worse colds affect the male of the species. (File under Irony).

Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I’m not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

Ogden Nash


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