Today’s title continues the fine British tradition of understatement – not as a matter of policy or desire, but because I am otherwise unable to spell the sound of a cough. I realise “ahem” is more of a genteel throat clearing, but it was the best I could muster.
Ever since coming out as happy, in a recent post, something has been attacking my chest (something microbial or viral, rather than a confused woodpecker on the hunt for grubs) which I presume is the universe taking revenge for my o’erweening hubris. As a result, I have been coughing for two-and-a-half weeks – and not usually in a genteel manner, for a start my coughing often seems to have more than a hint of a goose’s honk (though offers substantially greater volume and bass). Despite the obvious hint for any believers in homeopathy (into which camp I do not fall), I have not been treating my condition with goose grease – for a start, is this the same as the goose fat which until so recently filled the seasonal shelves of our supermarkets? Frankly, if we are going for seasonal unguents I’d prefer rubbing brandy butter on the affected area – though it would make a terrible mess of my clothes.
The last couple of weeks has been a tricky time to be afflicted with a cough, as a number of musical (and other) excursions had been booked back in the halcyon days when I still had my health. As this blog has noted before, the concert hall and theatre are very much the preserve of the bronchially-challenged, but until now I have always managed to avoid adding my own input to the typical cacophony. In an attempt to avoid becoming any more hypocritical than normal, I have been attempting to suppress the desire to cough on a rather regular basis of late. This has generally been reasonably easy with the aid of the odd sucky sweet (one contained in a quiet wrapping and accessed in the gaps between the music). However, early on in the world premiere of a quiet piano piece at Kettle’s Yard, I was overcome with an urgent need to cough and suppression proved very difficult, but a combination of physical contortions and a readiness to die rather than suffer embarrassment just about saw me through. As a result, I remain (almost) entirely unsympathetic to those who cough their way through recitals.
Last Saturday, the cough appeared to be in remission and so I decided to celebrate by enjoying some live music at the Art House Cafe. Well, of late at Fish Towers, and in direct contravention of the rules laid down by BBC Radio 2, Saturday is music night! After the fun of the Skull Kids, the following Saturday night I found myself in King’s College Chapel listening to Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem – which provided a degree of contrast in my sonic outings. This was also huge fun – it’s not often these days I get to see a full orchestra and choir in action – and from the front row a great wall of sound washed over me. This Saturday was Jonny Phillips (a subset of Willowen) and Hot Feet – and once again, while being unknown to me before the evening started, they were excellent and I’d certainly seek them out again. I’m not sure how the Art House chooses its bands, but they do seem rather good at it – perhaps the southwest is just blessed with good music? I also love that the space is wonderfully intimate and (important for a man of my age) you get to sit down!
Anyway, having booked to go to the gig in the morning, the cough returned with a vengeance in the afternoon – with barely time to draw breath between vocal explosions. Arriving at the Art House, I usually partake of their wares – and given how bad the cough was I threw caution to the wind. Chocolate is not supposed to be your friend in my condition, but on the principle I couldn’t make things worse I had a hot chocolate (with my traditional shot of “medicinal” rum) and a thick slice of chocolate cake. Delicious! It also softened my cough to almost complete non-existence for a good three hours – in a manner not produced by any of the palliatives obtained from the pharmacy. Now, this was not a proper medical trial – and I can’t be sure if it was the beverage, rum or cake which was decisive in effecting my miracle (if temporary) cure – but I’d thoroughly recommend it to any similarly afflicted GofaDM readers. Even if it doesn’t work, you can still enjoy the cure – to an extent rarely offered by the stock of Boots’ the Chemist.
At some stage, I think I shall have to collect together all the “cures” for modern ailments I am discovering as I make my way through this veil of tears. I can now fix both a bad back (using a car battery and a walk) and provide respite for those with a serious cough. I am rapidly becoming the Galen de nos jours.