How to have a cold…

Fri, 15/01/2010 - 16:10
Submitted by Fergus Collins

After a night spent pretending to be Harold II (with arrow in eye accessories) at a friend's medieval 40th birthday party at a draughty castle in very snowy Wales, I returned with the obligatory cold. This one is particularly nasty – a real man-flu head basher. My limbs ache, my throat feels as if I've swallowed a Norman sword (hilt first) and my spirits are battered. Lemon and honey (with a whisky) have no effect.

After three days fighting a losing battle (rather like Harold), I succumbed to a WHOLE day off work but it was hard to relax. When I wasn't cowering under a duvet, I was feeling guilty about the amount of work that needed doing (the Countryfile March issue is due to go to press next week and I haven't read Julia's column, edited the feature on the future of horsepower in the countryside by the great Simon Barnes or written the coverlines!).

Now in reality, there was nothing I could do. I have a great team who keep things ticking over and, when you're ill, you simply can't think straight or do anything useful. All that rubbish that advertisers tell us about flu remedies getting us back on our feet and back to work quicker – and making us feel guilty for being ill – doesn't wash with me.

Editor of the Idler magazine Tom Hodgkinson takes it further. In his superb "How to be Idle" he recommends positively enjoying an illness. Embrace the duvet, delight in the enforced inactivity and use it creatively (or just slumber). DON'T FEEL GUILTY. YOU'RE ILL.

There's something to be said for this. The moment I held up my hands and admitted defeat and turned off my computer, I started to feel better. I lit a fire, took an old favourite book off the shelves (The Poachers' Handbook by Ian Niall) and immersed myself in being 'ill'. Within hours, my body had started to forgive me and set about mending itself.

Tom recommends old fashioned convalescences for my sort of illness (a month in a health spa spending everyday in pyjamas and being wheeled into the morning sunshine by an attractive nurse). But I think in these days of cutbacks, the BBC convalescence home is a non-starter.

Still, in the words of the great Idler, colds happen to us all. Let's try to enjoy them – not fight them.


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