The autumn of discontent by Trevor Plumbly
Fatigue, vertigo and water torture
Despite practically hibernating and trying hard not to inhale outdoors, I’ve somehow managed to catch the bloody thing and I’m scribbling this between bouts of horizontal stupor. In Britain, when the monarch was ill, they used to post daily health reports by the palace gates but they don’t advertise infirmity down here and I’m trying to adopt the ‘suck it up’ culture. However, this one’s a toughie for me, with total exhaustion and brain fade, interrupted by occasional bursts of mental flatulence. As with most infectious ailments, everyone, from neighbours to talk-back hosts, knows the best way to treat it. ‘Bed rest’ is top contender, ‘rehydration’ is also popular, but double-edged: apparently I should drink plenty of water instead of the pleasant stuff; talk about kicking an old boy when he’s down.
There are bucket-loads today and most of it seems to be piddling down my windows. I’m sitting at the computer, weakly jabbing the keyboard, but the sound of the rain is a niggling distraction from serious reflection. Rather than watch the stuff en route to the drain along with my more penetrating observations, I’m reflecting on age. It’s a serious business where even minor diversions require a concentrated effort and once you get past the cobwebs, there’s only nostalgia left (play Don McLean ‘Bronco Bill’s Lament’).
Trapped oldies love the news, despite it reminding us that life’s going to happen with or without our presence. But after an hour of it, I began to feel that rain watching might be more interesting. On behalf of the bedridden, I can confidently say we need titillation to jazz up our lives a bit and there ain’t a lot of it out there!
What the hell happened to tabloid journalism? Do the rich and famous no longer copulate indiscriminately? Time was folk used to get abducted and impregnated by aliens, Elvis ran a fish and chip shop in Wagga Wagga and infant vampires roamed the streets of Christchurch; in short, if you bought the right rag, life had a bit of fizz to it. These days, if you get past the front page stuff, you’ll find political conspiracy or medical statistics, either might be more factual but after a few doses they don’t make you feel you’ve missed anything from yesterday.
The great divide
Still raining and I’ve retreated to the radio for distraction. It’s yet another ‘ologist’ urging me to semi-drown myself with stuff I don’t really like the taste of. Christ! Haven’t these buggers ever heard of bladder problems? Mobility and mental stimulation were also important he said, before rubbing it in by warning about vertigo, all of which presented difficulties. It’s bloody hard, I discovered, to pass the time when you’re actually forced to pass the time! And the stress of making the effort seems to clog the mental airways when you’re under the weather.
When you’ve gotta go!
Once awash with the ‘ology’ bloke’s water remedy, toilet trips became an issue, vertigo coupled with sight loss made the basic function more risky than usual. Whilst musing on this I was struck by Brain Fart 1: I remembered The Great Blondin, that old boy who crossed Niagara Falls lots of times on a tightrope, so I figured, if he could manage that, surely I could get from armchair to toilet in a hurry without injury? Brain Fart 2 came with the memory of Boris Karloff who, in the old black and white movies, perfected the Zombie walk, clomping around with arms outstretched and unseeing eyes. To my knowledge he never fell over and, after a bit of practice, the technique worked well for me, at least in private.
We all need to do it, and for most it’s a discreet trip, but for a ‘blindy’ it can be a hurdle; we tend to stand out in company and who the hell wants half the room to know when we need to go for a quick pee? In crowded rooms, the shortest distance rule rarely works for us. Thankfully, Brain Fart 3 delivered the ’roundabout’ strategy which enabled me to move from the armchair along the back of the sofa, fingers trailing languidly to counter vertigo, even pausing for a word or two, before sliding unnoticed along the opposite wall into the loo.
Take it from me
Now I’ve recovered, I shan’t listen to ‘ologists’ any more. I once heard that camels can drink enough water in one go to last them for days! And now I know how the poor sods feel, but at least they can pee at liberty! I’ve always regarded academics as a subtle threat to pleasant living and I reckon my experience with Covid’s experts proves the point.