It is raining.
I have a headcold.
And no, these two facts are not unrelated. In spite of constant medical reassurances to the contrary, I am convinced that headcolds, flu, and English rain are as inseparable as Porgy and Bess, Fred and Wilma or the Chuckles Brothers.
It has been raining, persistently and without undue heat, for 18 hours. That’s long enough. It’s not possible for there to be that much water around without some of it getting inside your head.
Let’s admit it – the common cold is part of the nation’s identity. Among the sunbathers around the pool in Marbella, or wherever, the ones with the labelled sunbeds are the Germans, and the Englishman is the one who’s sneezing .
Nasopharyngitis defines our history too. Our national past is thinly veiled in green slime, from Richard III (“A horb, a horb, by Kigdob f’a horb!” – “What’s that Richard? Oh, never mind…”) to Nelson (whether he said “Kiss me, Hardy” or “Kismet, Hardy” will never be known – why? Because he was too stuffed up). Would Hammond have greeted Charles I more civilly if he hadn’t caught something dreadful wandering about in the New Forest all night? Would the fortunes of the Civil War have been different if poor Charlie hadn’t sneezed in his face?
The cold is a part of being English, it is a feature, and we should use it far more constructively than we do. We could sell it to the world.
“Go right through Jabes: Eb is baiting for you.”
Or the Daleks: “Exterbidate deb!”
“Oh, Mr. Darcy – you’ll catch your death!”
How many more awards would Downton Abbey have earned with that extra touch of English realism? The odd sneeze, a well-used hanky here and there?
Our proud past as an independent nation is largely due to the comparative rarity of invasion: who’d want to come here? The Danes only did it because they wanted to get to America and we were in the way and even Hitler was reluctant. On the other hand, we owe the glory of Empire to our own desperate attempts to find somewhere, anywhere that was warmer.
So, I mustn’t rail against fate as I bury my head once more in the bowl of camphor, or complain in husky tones about our incessant rain. After all, this is the climate that produced some of the finest romantic poets (you can’t be romantic if you don’t die young) and the greatest painters (Turner wasn’t an Impressionist; he just couldn’t keep his paint dry).
On the bright side, summer can’t be more than nine months away…..
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