Friday, 26 September 2008

the coughing season

Wednesday, September 24

This morning on the train to work - only six hours after I climbed off the train from Amsterdam last night, I noted with a yawn - it became clear to me that today was the official start of a new season. Never mind the meteorological seasons or astronomical calculations, my seasons are determined by such tangible things as the appearance of flip-flops, the disappearance of coats, a critical mass of woolly scarves and of coruse the preponderance of coughs and sniffles.

It was a discrete but distinct chorus that greeted me this morning in the half-full compartiment (which effectively means that there is one person on each two-seater bench and unless one judges the other compartiments similarly uninviting it is the custom to keep moving), announcing to the world, or at least my sleep-addled brain, the start of the coughing season.

I pray to the gods that may or may not be that this won't be a repeat of last year, with a coughing season that lasted into May (completely overlapping Woolly Scarves and No More Coats) and saw me get sick three times in the final two months. Not that I felt particularly ill, I just sounded like I was bringing up my stomach, its contents and probably about six fingers of my duodenum when I had a coughing fit. Add another five minutes to catch my breath and ten to recover enough energy to lift an arm and you can understand why people might get worried. But besides that - and perhaps losing my voice - I felt fine.

Of course that was an illusion and after a week or so it had worn me down almost to the point that I called in sick. After that it was the tiredness, that never allowed me to fully recover and that made me susceptible to the next bug that came along, that wreaked havoc.

I wish I could do as the North African-looking woman who very kindly showed me the way from the main trainline to the local service at a station in Paris in January. She was wearing a face-mask, I believe in response to an increased SARS-alert at the time. But it'll be a fashion statement when I do it. Seriously.

So Coughs and Sniffles is upon us and remember that the defenition of a bug is that it sucks.

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