Tony Allen: And finally ... Ill tidings!

Apr 06 | 2023

When it hit us it was like an avalanche careering down the side of a very tall mountain. But it wasn’t an avalanche it was a flu bug. But it might as well have been an avalanche for all of the damage it caused!

Tony AllenJan and I had just returned from Portugal where the whole world seemed to be coughing and harrumphing. It was like being at a ‘Speaker of the Year’ competition but with more handkerchiefs in evidence.

We were both in good shape when we arrived home from Portugal. The plane journey had been uneventful and, surprisingly, we had not spent our time surrounded by fits of sneezing and coughing as was often the case during flights taken on the early part of the year.

So here we were, finally back home.  A quick coffee and then it was a question of opening the eye watering mound of post which had built up whilst we were away. We separated the junk mail from the rest;  threw the ‘rubbish’ into the bin and then concentrated on the four or so items that remained. Council rate increases, etc. but nothing in any way surprising.

Everything seemed fine, but was it?

The first clue emerged when I turned down an offer of a bacon sandwich, which I understand is the only food item that is likely to ‘turn’ an avid vegetarian. I was beginning to feel slightly under the weather - funny term that – my nose was running, my head was beginning to ache and I felt slightly shivery; that’s what council rate rises do to you I assumed!

To make matters worse ,Jan was beginning to suffer the same symptoms.

“It was that family with West Country accents sitting next to us in the restaurant on Wednesday lunch time. They were all coughing and spluttering.”

“I don’t think they came from the West Country,” says Jan.

“I don’t think it matters,” says I.  “West Country accents aren’t infectious anyway. Although, thinking about it, I’m not so sure. You just listen to The Wurzels.”

Anyway the whole point of this preamble was that, for the first time ever, as a couple, we’d both got the same illness and at the same moment. We were both quite rapidly feeling rather unwell. Who takes precedence?

I did the hot water bottles whilst Jan did the hot milk with whisky – which is actually the only time that I ever enjoy whisky. It’s certainly one of the bonuses of having a bout of flu. I filled our ancient pair of hot water bottles and retired to our by now most inviting double bed. I will freely admit that under these circumstances, the female of the partnership appears to be much more resilient. Males simply tend to feel sorry for themselves.

I felt somewhat guilty about being first into bed. The next moment my wife entered the bedroom carrying a serving tray bearing two mugs of hot milk and whisky. Not only that, she was balancing a football on her nose and juggling four oranges. This last bit was not actually true but probably a reflection of an increasing deliriousness on my part.

We both quickly drained our hot milk and slowly subsided into a perspiration-fuelled environment. Jan was first with the cough but I soon followed. To make matters worst this ‘little devil’ had come on so quickly that on our journey from the airport we had already texted the various members of the family to inform them that we had arrived safe and sound and in good health. We didn’t therefore issue a subsequent disclaimer in the belief that our ‘attacks’ would soon be over – little did we know!

We were quite confident actually.  After all, we’d been through various pandemics in our recent past and survived with not too many ill effects and we’d also had flu vaccines. However, we both developed bad coughs which kept coming back over a period of two weeks and which at times left us quite weak. We took it in turns as to who would look after whom, at the same time trying to convince the family that everything was fine.

It’s the old story. When you’ve got a virus it feels as if you are never going to feel right again. But you slowly return to normal. The only noteworthy thing about this episode was that it hit both of us at exactly the same time and I guess that we would both have been even worse without having had the vaccine.

In addition, and in amongst all of the drama, I did manage to put this article together and I hope that it’s not too apparent, but it does leave me with just one important question before you go and that is: Who the hell are The Wurzels? 

Photo: Tony Allen.