You probably have the flu, getting over it, or know someone with it. It’s nasty. I know that now. I‘ve just had it, for the first time ever.
Luck’s been with me, unlike the 30-odd million who died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918/1919. Then there was the Asian flu in 1957, the Hong Kong flu in 1968, followed by the flues we know well, the bird and the swine.
The negatives are obvious, but, for me, there were at least two positives. The first was that I realised I had never been sick before. Oh, sure, I’d had a sore foot, a busted shoulder, an infected finger, a cold, a headache, a 24-hour wog, but they were nothing compared to the swine called flu.
My particular version included violent headaches, chest pains, dry throat, no breath to speak with, move with, or argue over a hotel bill with.
At first, like many folk, I assumed it was just another cold and, because I was busy, I got on with things, none of that namby-pamby man-flu attitude with me. I got on a plane, then another, then another, and another still.
By the time I got to Victoria I was delirious. That was the tip that something really was wrong, because Victoria and delirious don’t normally go together. By then it was too late to cancel my engagements.
I arrived in Melbourne at 11.30pm. got in the hire-car, drove like an Albanian in Moscow, arrived at the hotel at 2am, climbed into bed, got up at 6.30am, got ready, arrived at my appointment, spoke to 150 testosterone riddled boys, got back in the car and drove east towards Sale.
And so it went: into a car, out of a car, into a hotel, no sleep, off to an engagement, back to a hotel room. What a life!
All this lead, naturally enough, to a worsening of my condition. I left Albany an idiot and arrived home a signed, sealed and certified idiot. Thank heavens for our doctors, because my local man said, plainly and clearly: “Yes, Jon, you have had the flu, but now you have pleurisy.”
Pleurisy? Brings back memories doesn’t it, of the Amity, scurvy, men and women huddling together in a hold, fighting over crusts of mouldy, rock-hard bread and tiny pockets of fresh air?
The second good thing about having the flu, or pleurisy, is that it requires a lot of lying down, sitting, staring into space, watching crappy TV, old comedy videos, or, as in my case, reading. So far I have read everything within reach, including a couple of Inspector Maltabano novels, a history of 1968 and all sides of a packet of rice flakes I found decaying in the back of a cupboard.
As I write this I am finishing the marvellous Love in the time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez. This book I saved for last because Márquez writes with such rich colour and madness that reading it in the fullness and insanity of the flu may well have tipped me over the edge.