Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Having the cold always reminds me of Christmas. It makes me think of a double duvet cover folded in half on the sofa like an unzipped sleeping bag, a cocoon of heat and initial comfort. Those beds were always so fresh and welcoming after a long sticky night of tossing and turning, unable to breathe lying down. My Mum always used to put lavender water on the sheets and pillows which made it seem as if nothing as reviving as this had ever existed. Then several hours later that bed seemed like a cage of discomfort and uneasiness. Covers rumpled and clumping beneath your restless body making creases jut into your aching feverish skin. The lavender smell was long gone and instead that constant dirty, tangy taste of illness and catarrh is all that remains. When I moved from home and in with my now husband my bouts of seasonal illness would see me replicate this event and add my own take by gathering on a foot stool beside the sofa an array of carefully arranged medicinal products and otherwise. Neatly stacked boxes of paracetamol, decongestant, cough syrup and throat lozenges stood next to a cup of hot orange or tea, a banana to accompany the pills, tissues in a package, vicks vapour rub and a menthol inhaler. A book, tv remotes, work if applicable, all this gathered on the stool, a protest to having to leave a seated position. By the time the lavender smell has faded these products are in disarray, a mass of opened boxes of pills and scattered remedies. Sticky spoons and cold half drunk drinks in pecariously sitting mugs. Sodden tissues on the stool, dried and used ones on the floor, books disregarded, remotes dropped, banana peel straddling the inhaler disgustingly. The pain killers have worn off but its hours before you get more and the fever has returned and you kick sheets with restlessness and anger that cant be exhumed as strength has abandoned you. Whatever's on the television becomes a haunting nightmare as you doze and you are too hot and too cold all at once, forehead clamy and hair sticking to your face in disgusting clumps. There is such little dignity in illness. To right this wrong you peel yourself from the sheets which duely stick to your leg and aim to trip your pathetic creeping walk and you climb into the shower, weary already. The normal water is too hot and it stings your prickled and achey limbs and the good feeling of being clean is overwhelmed by the faint feeling you get from standing up so long. Brushing your teeth tastes like rubbing peppermint into stomach acid and you are so tired after it all that drying your hair depletes the last ounce of strength available. But by the time you are finished, shivering, diminished in bed clothes that seem too large all of a sudden, the cocoon is remade and the freshness restored and the products rearranged neatly on the stool, pain killers administered and a familiar comfort returned shortly.

Being ill isn't something I take kindly too, yet there is something that sparks a security and homeliness that creates a hollow schism in me. These beds in my mind are often accompanied by dark nights and cosy rooms, often fairy lights. Smells of delicious family meals that I was too nauseaus to take part in. Always crispy duck. I find it very odd that the smell of menthol now takes me back to festivities and december but in some ways it is like its my brain making it easier on me. Having a cold in summer is such an awful paradox that it throws off my sense of seasons and makes me wish for a change. I always have this thing where I pine for summer, or winter, and when it arrives I take my fill quickly, or am dissappointed by a lack of snow/sun, and start to crave the alternative. Recently I've been considering christmas and winter and snow. I know I shouldn't, I always jump too quickly. Last year it snowed in late Novemeber and when christmas came it seemed like celebrating in Janurary, or like cleaning on new years day. I won't do that this year. I'm going on holiday to tenerife in two weeks to get some sun and I'm retaking summer after this short interlude to illness ridden nostalgia. That's just me though, impatient.

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