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   I have got a bad cold and cough... (December 19, 1991)

I have got a bad cold and cough. My nose is blocked, my tongue has lost all sense of taste, my throat continuously irritates, my lungs are choked. At such a time I would expect some sympathy from people. But all that the wife says is: "It's in the air, it's a virus. Everybody is getting it, but it will go off."

I was invited to a party and I rang up the hostess and explained: I could not attend because my nose had gone red with cold, my tongue had an unpleasant grey fuzz on it, my throat was so sore that I could not talk, my chest heaved every time I breathed. The hostess said: "Oh, don't be such a bore. It is in the air, half my guests have got similar complaints. That does not mean they are not coming."

I was telling somebody in the office that I really should not be working but at home and in the bed, nicely tucked in. my lungs were inflamed, my throat lascerated, my nose bleeding, my vision bleary, it was worse than anything that could be in the air. The colleague said: "But, of course, it is in the air, everybody is picking it up and everybody has the same complaint. It will subside."

I had been to a dinner. And, as is the practice, before the dinner, drinks were served. Your usual, whisky and soda? the host asked me. So, nothing at all. I said that I had a viral infection in my system, there was an ulcer in my throat, my teeth were chattering with the fever and my gums about to bleed. It was a very unusual viral infection, not at all like what was in the air and which half the population had got. My host smiled: "It is the same viral infection that half the people have got. It is in the air, all over, and the only way to combat it is to ride it through."

I have been invited to a picnic, at a farmhouse on the mainland, across the harbour. Though it is a couple of Saturday s away, I know that with the kind of cold that I have picked up, which is no common cold that is in the air, I would be in no position to attend. So I told the farmers that my body was paining and the joints had gone stiff and there was a burning sensation, often unbearable, at the end of the limbs, and I could not breathe through my nose or mouth, as both were cjoked, so I would have to miss the Bloody Mary and brunch. And the farmer's wife told me: "Oh, don't be a baby. This thing is in the air, and the air will clear up in another two weeks' time."

You may ask me, at this stage, shy have I not seen my doctor. And the answer is: Because I am afraid he may also tell me it is something in the air and I should not bother about it.

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