I have been stricken down by possibly the most virulent illness known to man. I’ve spent the last couple of months battling RSI, which still isn’t going too brilliantly, since you asked. Then there are my high cholesterol levels. I’m making more headway there - I still remember my feeling of euphoria when I went to see the doctor a few weeks back and he proudly informed me that I’m no longer “clinically obese”! Woohoo! Now I’m just “overweight” which is miles better. Then of course there’s hypochondria – the prognosis is that I will have to battle with this for the rest of my days as no known cure exists. But now I have finally succumbed to an ailment even more widely dreaded than any of those. Yes, it’s man flu.
I suppose on the plus side it ambushed me late on Sunday night rather than striking at the start of the weekend but the timing still shows plenty of room for improvement. For a start, I had a Proper Serious Meeting to chair today and having a nasty cold (err, I mean a vicious strain of man flu) makes that very difficult. There are many things you can do for dramatic effect in a meeting to get your point across, but repeatedly banging a crusty snotrag on the table is not one of them. Nor is saying “Let me stop you there, I’m sure that’s a very valid point but I just need to rummage around in my right nostril for an especially tricky bogey. Watch out chaps, I think it might be rubbery.” And red nosed, though it may be a fantastic look for the distribution of festive gifts, doesn’t really command respect in a business context. Although with hindsight I could perhaps have used my grotesquely guttural snuffling as an effective heckling technique. They might have feared that I was starting up a chainsaw under the table.
My sudden critical illness bodes especially poorly as the week coming up is full of fun packed activities that could be thoroughly wrecked by being red-eyed, sore-throated and predisposed to loll around in bed all day. On Wednesday I have a day out with my ma in the beautiful city of Winchester. A spot of shopping, a bit of photography (hmm, I wonder if Winchester has any decent cemeteries?), a lovely meal somewhere and, to cap it all, a gig. Yes, my ma is that cutting edge.
That said, the act in question is Lloyd Cole who is very far from hip and happening these days. For those of you who don’t remember/have never heard of him, he’s the polo necked crooning jangly indie whinger famous for a string of exceptionally minor hits in the early 80s. You may remember “Perfect Skin”. You may vaguely have heard of “Rattlesnakes”. You may have missed the end of “Lost Weekend” on Top of the Pops 2. But since I couldn’t find a decent video of any of those on YouTube, here’s some footage of him with his lesser known but equally superb hit (and I use that word in its very loosest sense) “Jennifer She Said”:
Having man flu could wreck all that. There’s no fun in going out for a meal which, due to my critically ill state, is bound to taste only of grotty phlegm. More to the point if I wanted to do that I could just head over to Yates’ Wine Lodge where the food is at least meant to taste like that. Incidentally, the Reading branch of Yates’ featured last year on the BBC TV programme Rogue Restaurants which revealed, among other things, that the staff left defrosted ready meals on the counter in the warm for up to three days before serving them up to customers. Investigators found maggots behind the freezer and fruit flies in the bathroom and, all things being equal, it’s a wonder the staff didn’t try and work them into one of the dishes. They could have artfully draped a couple of maggots on top of the mildew couli.
Even better still, another restaurant in Reading closed for a while because they had an infestation of “German cockroaches”. That has always especially tickled me. How did they find out? Did they set a booby trap involving tiny deckchairs next to a little ramekin of warm water? Was passport control involved? The mind boggles.
This is never going to be a short post if I keep wandering off the point like this.
Not only won’t the meal be fun but having a heavy cold during a gig won’t be fun either. Sorry, I mean “having a well-nigh fatal attack of man flu”. (It may even be this Mexican swine flu for Pete’s sake. After all, I had chilli con carne for dinner last week which definitely puts me in the “at risk” category.) Aside from the ignominy of repeatedly sneezing through the performance, when I normally get a fatal attack of man flu I end up going deaf in one ear for several weeks. Which would be great if you’d gone to see Dido, I suppose. But the thought of having to stand at ninety degrees to the stage just so I can make out which song is being played, along with the whole “consequently looking like a total moid” thing, doesn’t remotely appeal. Lloyd Cole will probably say “Hello Winchester! And who the fuck is that window licker in the third row?”
Anyway, wish me luck. I’m going to take to my bed with a nice cup of tea and feel profoundly sorry for myself.