Over the last three days, your humble scribe has experienced heatwaves ranging from thirty-nine to forty-one degrees Celsius. During that period, I closed my eyes and felt the searing heat scorching my skin. You’d love to have been there, huh? Smacks of sun, sea, sand, beach, waves, a good book and a palm tree, right? Wrong. MM was in her bed, tackling an unwanted guest who goes by the name of “Flu”.
“Influenza” sounds very dramatic and ominously Charles Dickens-like. It conjures up theatrical images of beautiful, thermometer-toting 1940’s nurses like my maternal grandmother as they tenderly dabbed at the foreheads of virile heroes languishing in hospital beds. Erratum. It’s actually a scary scientific name for a big bad illness that preys on innocent aspiring writers and their families.
Influenza could also be a girl’s name. You know, of the double-barrelled Mr and Mrs Tally ho-Whatnot breed. “Hi, I’m Influenza, but my friends call me “Flu” for short”, she says as she breezes into the wine bar, nonchalantly sliding her designer sunglasses over her glossy blond locks and plopping her Burberry bag ostentatiously on the table for all to admire.
If Flu really existed, I have a good idea of who she’d be. You’ve no doubt already had several run-ins with the Flu’s of this world. Flu’s the mean cow at primary school who knew that the hem of your skirt was hooked up in your knicker elastic but didn’t tell you until playtime was over. When you were older, she’s the one who stole your ideas for your creative English essay after you gullibly showed her your essay plan to help her out. (She got a better grade, whilst you learnt two new words at your own expense: “naïvety” and “plagiarism”.) A couple of years further down the line, she hunted down and relentlessly serenaded the only boy you secretly admired. You then sadistically enjoyed every minute of her demise when, in her efforts to be the most beautiful of them all, she tried to achieve a pair of well-defined Dita Van Teese eyebrows with the use of hair removal cream and ended up with no eyebrows at all, making her look more like Gollum than the sophisticated pin-up she’d been planning on. You were satisfied: for once, Flu’s one-upwomanship was her comeuppance.
Just like the female Influenza of my youth, this week’s Flu is a bad girl par excellence. She has rampaged through my body and left the building Elvis-style, leaving me feeling like Selfridges’ door mat after the first day of the Christmas sales. For three days she has possessed my body, ripping the insides of my lungs to shreds with a hacking cough that could double up as a fog horn on HMS Ark Royal. I beat the Ready Brek kid hands down in the glow department for three days running – I was glowing so strongly that you could practically see me in the dark. My body went into automatic shut-down, and day merged into night as Flu partied and rocked inside my body like an alcohol-soaked teenager on a Project X mission.
I travelled big-style under that drenched quilt, bouncing back and forth between frozen arctic wastes, steaming swedish saunas and tropical beaches washed by heat waves then drenched by tsunamis of sweat. My body was like a slab of meat that is accidentally microwaved on “cook” instead of “defrost”: overcooked on the outside, and frozen in the middle. The horror was only alleviated by the presence of Rugby-Boy, my pyjama-clad guardian angel who appeared out of the haze with cups of tea, a thermometer and paracetamol on a reassuringly frequent basis.
I am now on the mend, and am growing stronger by the hour thanks to my secret hoard of baked beans and Ribena (more about that here). I will leave you with the opening verse of “Dear Fludence”, a strange parody of “Dear Prudence”, by The Beatles. I dreamt it up in a Peggy Lee/Jessica Rabbit fever yesterday. This should be sung in Siouxsie and the Banshees manner, with an appropriately pale Gothic complexion, strange eye-rolling and dislocated arm movements.
“Dear Fludence, won’t you please go away-hey-hey?
Dear Fludence, find some fresh new prey-hey-hey-heeey-yeh….
I’ve got the flu,
I’m feeling blue,
A pile of poo,
Because of you….
Dear Fludence, won’t you please go away..……”
1)This post was written under the influence of high temperature, aspirin, English breakfast tea and hot Ribena and should therefore be taken with not just a pinch, but a lorryload of salt. 2) I have no personal issues with anyone who has a double-barrelled surname, buys Burberry’s goods, wears designer sunglasses or has blonde streaks in their hair. Please don’t hit me, I’m sick. 3) In the unlikely event that any reader is unfortunate enough to be called “Influenza”, please accept my apologies and my greatest sympathy.