For someone who has eaten unhealthy junk food all his life, I am surprisingly healthy. Although, unsurprisingly, given my diet, I have bad teeth.
I guess that’s the inevitable effect of a Scottish upbringing.
I have had slight toothache for a couple of weeks and went to see my dentist on Monday.
“I hear there’s a shortage of masks for dentists,” I said, “because loads of people are buying them as a result of the coronavirus scare.”
“Yes,” he said, “the trouble is they are mostly made in the Far East and most of the factories making them there are closed because of the coronavirus.”
This seems like it would be a very comforting situation if you were a virus. You would be a rather smug virus, having out-manoeuvred the opposition.
Britain is starting to take the coronavirus seriously. Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced measures the government is taking to combat it and repeated his advice that everyone should wash their hands with soap for the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday To You twice.
I thought: Well, that’s going to please the copyright owners of Happy Birthday to You. But it turns out the good news (for us) is that copyright on the Happy Birthday song expired in the European Union on 1st January 2017, so it is free to sing.
Every silver lining has a dark cloud, though. Bad news for some is that apparently sales of Corona Beer in the US have fallen by either 30% or 70% depending on which scare-mongering tabloid newspaper you read. The good news, though, as reported in the London Evening Standard’s business section yesterday, is that shares in at least one funeral group have surged in value amid hopes for a high death toll. Every shroud has a silver lining.
My friend Sandy in Milan tells me that there “all schools from pre-schools to universities and everything in-between are closed; so are post offices, sports stadiums, cinemas and theatres. They have all been closed for one week and are now going to remain closed for a second week.”
Despite, as previously mentioned, being normally surprisingly healthy, for the last three weeks I have had a horrible, dry, hacking cough. This has nothing to do with coronavirus, but it is very useful for emptying carriages and getting seats in trains. A few days ago, I had a slight coughing fit and someone sitting two seats away moved to the next carriage.
It was done in a very British way. When we arrived at the next station, he got up and walked towards the doors as if he was going to alight, but he kept walking to the end of the carriage and beyond, into the next carriage. As he sat down, he slightly glanced back as if to check I had not followed him like some determined Angel of Death.
I have always had an irritating dry cough since, I think, my twenties. At one company I worked for, I was nicknamed John ‘Irritating Cough’ Fleming, which I always felt was a rather inefficient nickname as it necessitated the use of four words instead of one.
My father had the same cough as long as I knew him, which was quite a long time. But this current cough I have is a different, nastier, hacking cough.
I had the same horrible cough a few months ago. It took about three weeks to clear up. I think I got it from writer Ariane Sherine’s 8-year-old daughter who, in turn, got it from her 2 or 3-year-old half-sister.
I can’t remember her exact age. To a 2 or 3-year-old, one year is a long time. To me it flashes by from one Edinburgh Fringe to another, with comedians constantly obsessing and stressing about the past or upcoming Fringe for all twelve months in-between.
Anyway, I blame Ariane Sherine’s otherwise blameless daughter for my hacking cough.
So it is only fair that, in what may or may not have been an attempt at redemption, Ariane suggested something to me.
Last year, she published another book: Talk Yourself Better: A Confused Person’s Guide to Therapy, Counselling and Self-Help.
But her suggestion had nothing to do with that. I was just blatantly plugging the book.
Instead of suggesting I have therapy, she suggested that one way I might get rid of the cough was, before going to bed, to rub Vicks VapoRub – normally rubbed on the chest and/or throat – onto the soles of my feet. She had heard this worked.
I waited for her to tell me this was a joke. She did not.
It sounded mad but, because I know the Chinese are obsessed by feet – acupuncturists love ‘em – I think it’s something to do with meridians – I thought I would give it a go. Also, apparently, people in Wuhan – the source of the coronavirus outbreak – instead of shaking hands when they meet are now touching toes (when wearing shoes). Strange but true,
So, for the last three nights, I have smeared Vicks VapoRub on the soles of my feet at night and worn socks in bed. It is not a good look.
But it seems to be working.
Either that or it’s just coincidence.
I will die never knowing.