I’ve been ill. And it’s quite possible that I’ve had swine flu. When the disease isn’t busy being more infectious or—rarely—fatal than normal flu, its symptoms are meant to be reminiscent of either weak flu or a severe cold. Also, many people we know from London have had it or know someone who has, and some have since been this far out to say hello. A Great Wen indeed, full of festering sickness and irritations.
Whatever it was, it descended on my during last Friday morning at work. Within the course of an hour I lost the ability to assemble complex sequences of thought. I’d meant to fix up the new house in the evening, so had the car with me and was feeling fit enough to drive as I ventured out into the Cotswolds. I continued incredibly carefully and slowly—there were few other drivers to annoy in the empty mid-morning countryside—but still managed to lose track turning a corner and nearly oversteered into a drainage ditch. If I’d known only ten minutes earlier that I couldn’t have got home entirely safely I’d have… well, I doubt if I could have come up with a better plan in my state. I’d probably still be on the work sofa now.
K. and I were both suffering by Friday evening, she with more concrete symptoms than me: her asthma always bags her more snot and special effects than me, my frequent cycling clearing out my passageways regularly enough that I only get head colds, which migrate to sinuses and rarely to throat or chest later.
Come Saturday, and there was a wedding of an old friend (and my usher three years ago) that I dursn’t miss. For several reasons it was more religious than most ceremonies, even church ones. Fine by me, usually, but the combination of incense, unmoving air, mild cultural discomfort and throwing myself unwisely into the singing brought on my worst fever thus far. I melted like the candles and the room went all distant; I literally mopped my brow, as the somewhat Marian high-church service reached its peak. You could hardly novelize these parallels without someone calling you out on them, but half an hour later the bulk of the illness had passed and I was if not bright then lucid.
My only suit is now rather fever-stinky, and a day’s catch-up painting yesterday has left my sinuses—those delayed symptoms which are my lot and not K’s—bulky and fricative, like a bag of cauliflower florets. But I’m otherwise feeling much more chipper. What was worrying was that the fog of a cold—or swine flu, or just man flu—is almost unnoticeable until it lifts. Your fog detectors are themselves as fogged as the rest of you, and as I should have realized, you should never drive in adverse conditions unless your journey is really necessary. In retrospect, that sofa wouldn’t have been all that uncomfortable.