Slippery Grip: The dreaded lurgie 12



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There is something about getting a cold or the flu that always takes me by surprise. Not that I think I’m invincible, but getting sick just doesn’t figure in my day. If someone says to just suck it up and it’s only a cold I can’t be responsible for the outcome. I’m sick and it just has to run its course.

Of course the first think we usually do when ill is blame someone else. I put my cold fair and square at the feet of those on the aeroplane I travelled on recently. Who knows what those x-ray machines didn’t detect.

Narcissistic behaviour – out the back for a dose of reality Sir.

Altruism – straight ahead Miss.

Common cold – I’m afraid we need to keep you for further questioning.

But I digress. Once blaming is out of the way, the next thing is to try to elicit sympathy from your nearest and dearest while looking stoic and putting on a brave face and looking a bit pathetic at the same time. It’s a juggling act at the best of times but at this stage of your cold you will probably feel like biting the hand that feeds you Lemsip as the lurgie has a nasty habit of bringing out the worst, objectionable behaviour to have been witnesses at the kitchen table.

Everyone’s an expert on how to fix the problem when the way you feel; a bullet and a gun would be just the trick. Either for your nearest and dearest or you – it’s a moot point.

Now the running nose keeps you busy and that niggling cough. Combine the two and it’s hard to think of a more socially unacceptable pastime.

And here we get to the mother of all problems.

Are you a hanky or tissue person?

Both have their place – and it should be in the bin, but we seem to grow an attachment to the filthy things and shove them in our pockets or up our sleeves, in our bags or just hold them pitifully in our fists. There is nothing worse than picking out a used receptacle for all that ails you and trying to find that one small skerrick of unused corner while waiting in the supermarket queue. It’s pathetic, yet we all know how it feels. And the chaff that your nose endures is just another form of torture.

Phlegm is just too disgusting to discuss. I have a sneaking suspicion the person who coined the word spelt it that way so we couldn’t even say it let alone talk about it. Which neatly brings me to a sight I saw many years ago on an Albanian Ferry.


WARNING: If you are squeamish read no further!


On the ferry a woman who looked like a Romanov gypsy was nursing a small child. The child was suffering a shocking cold. A hacking cough and a filthy nose. So the mother just bent down and clamped her mouth over the child’s nose and sucked. Then spat the contents on the floor.

Just gives a whole new meaning to ‘suck it up’. Beats a hanky although I’m a roll of toilet paper person myself. Pass the vapour rub!

Hettie Ashwin

My short stories have been published in America, United Kingdom and Australia in magazines and online. I have published a number of books over the years, all of which have been successful here and overseas. I write a humorous column for the Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette called Slippery Grip.

  1. Had it Last year after my Flu Jab . Lasted 3 weeks . This year so far so good . Had flu jab 3weeks ago and feeling fine . Keeping fingures crossed !! 🙂

  2. Had my first ever flu jab on friday after I had Pneumonia and tonsillitis. Had to wait for a bit for the jab until I had recovered..

  3. We have a reasonably effective method of controlling the flu but a jab to prevent the common cold still evades us. Give it time. It will come.

    1 REPLY
  4. I used to get bad flu every year then 5 years ago I was told to take a probiotic ( Inner health plus) and I have never had as much as a sniffle since then I take one every day, also I used to suffer with sinus and allergies they have also gone, if I only took one thing for the rest of my life it would be a probiotic

  5. Have only had the flu once about 25 years ago. A few colds but not many of them either. I count myself blessed.

  6. Had my flu injection a few weeks ago,but just getting over pneumonia & so is my friend a lot of it going around this year,off to the Gold Coast next week to my daughters,away from this weather,ranging 24/28 at the moment up there…

  7. Just been through four weeks of the rotten,nasty,thing. aches, nose stuffed up, nose like a tap, i use a toilet roll, plus a bag for the used tissue, but I would never go to work snd pass it on, as some horrible people do, look at me, I am so brave, I want to kill them.
    Re the Roumanian Gypsey, apparently this is common for eskimo mothers to do too.
    Turns your stomach, but thats our squeamish society.

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