THE old adage that you learn something new everyday is almost a code which I try to abide by. Most days I learn more than just “something”, and being an avid learner I’m always keen to make anything important or interesting stick in my mind.
Only this week, it didn’t take listening to a podcast or reading from a book for me to learn a couple of important facts.
Firstly, superstitions (which being a slightly mad writer I have many of) are a complete waste of time. Secondly, I’m not immune and I’m just as susceptible to illnesses as any other person. Cough, splutter, sneeze, groan – yes you guessed it I’ve fallen victim to the common cold, or Rhinovirus if you want to be medically accurate. And I succumbed to this after boasting: “I never get sick, touch wood” what a naïve fool.
I think we have our parents to blame for catching colds. After all, how many times can you remember them saying: “Wrap up, you’ll catch a cold out there.” When really they should have been saying: “Now look son, if you don’t want to catch a cold, wash your hands every ten minutes and stay away from other people. In fact, lock yourself in an airtight room and live there cold-free for eternity.”
Of course, the cold dry air of winter is the perfect habitat for viruses such as the common cold, but really it’s people who spread it around, and exposure to the elements isn’t a defining factor to catching a cold-like virus.
Mobile phones, the internet and social media may have limited the amount of time people spend interacting these days, but for the most part we still have to come into contact with each other at work and in the home. This means until scientists discover a breakthrough cure, or we ourselves evolve an impervious force-field which viruses can’t penetrate – well we are pretty much stuck with runny noses and chesty coughs.
Put into figures, the average person will catch the cold 200 times in their lifetime. And when you consider how long a typical cold lasts (up to ten days at a time), that’s quite a bit of our lives we spend blowing our blocked noses!
There’s also the financial factor if you choose to take medication every time a cold virus plays haovoc with your immune system. Then again you could always choose one of the traditional methods such as a hearty bowl of chicken soup. It’s debatable whether this will help or not, but 12th-century Egyptian physicians swore by it for anyone with a cold, and they apparently learned it from the ancient Greeks. And those guys tended to know what they were talking about.
My personal favourite remedy is the hot toddy. The word toddy is a distortion of the Hindu word tari used to describe a sweet alcoholic drink made of palm sap. But I very much doubt our local off-licence will stock palm sap, so for me a whisky will have to do.
As Robert Burns said:
“Sit roun’ the table weel content
An’ steer about the toddy”
The only problem is it might be a hangover I’m nursing in the morning and not a cold.