Everybody has their own way of dealing with a cold.
Years ago, when the choice of medication was sparse and its promotion a lot less strident than it is today, I would take a Beecham’s Powder followed by enough Guinness to ensure I could work up a good sweat beneath the covers.
Whether this got rid of the cold or not I remain unsure but it was an enjoyable exercise as I was newly married.
Beecham’s Powders in those days came in a slip of paper which now seems quaint.
“I loved them,” my mate Kev the Sparky said. “Open the packet and sprinkle it in your mouth. I took them like sherbert powder whether I had a cold or not.”
Ian was sceptical of modern treatments.
He said: “It always amuses me when they advertise a product by saying: ‘Nothing acts faster’ or ‘nothing is more effective.’ So take nothing, then, and save your money.”
I checked the National Health Service website and found this explanation: “A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It can cause a blocked nose followed by a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat and a cough.”
A mild viral infection? Mild?
This was obviously written by someone who has never suffered the extremes of Man Flu. Or perhaps it was written by a woman who fails to acknowledge that chaps are ill equipped to deal with it and far more susceptible to its extremes.
Childbirth? Women should try Man Flu.
There is no cure but there are treatments that claim to alleviate the symptoms. But then, there always were. Ask your grandma.
Old fashioned remedies included chicken soup, garlic crushed in warm milk and hot toddies of whisky with lemon. Take all three and you would be well fed, achieve a drunken night’s sleep and remain safe from vampires.
These days my usual recourse at the first sign of a sniffle is to reach for First Defence that is squirted up both nostrils on a regular basis. This is unpleasant enough to be used to make spies confess secrets, but I find it effective.
It could, of course, be psychosomatic, but I have this vision of the spray rounding up all the virus germs, containing them in a far corner of the nasal system and saying: “Stay there and die, suckers.”
I also have a safeguard stock of soft tissues in case I sneeze – and Vaseline to grease my nose. If I ever got involved in nose wrestling my opponent would never get a grip.
Often, taking medication is nothing more than indulging in rituals to make us feel better. We might just as well make a human sacrifice in the back garden or spin round three times, throw salt into the wind and shout: ‘Cold, cold, go away.’ I have never tried either of these but if the salt thing works, please let me know. There’s a fortune to be made finding a cure.
Scientists have suggested that we get more colds in winter than summer because we spend more time indoors with other people with the central heating turned up which helps spread the virus that cause infections.
Now researchers at Yale University say they have found a new way to avoid being afflicted – simply wrap up your nose. They reckon the virus thrives better in cold temperatures and if the nose is cold it replicates more easily.
The problem is how to keep your nose warm? A scarf wrapped around the face may work but it also has the effect of containing your breath and steaming the lower half of your face in sauna conditions. A nose muff?
Believe it or not – and I didn’t – you can actually buy such a thing. The Nose Warmer Company make them in England and stylish muffs for any proboscis have been available from the Aunty Marty Made It company in America, who supply to the UK, since 1970.
This could also be a marketing opportunity for Comic Relief. They could sell fur-lined red noses as a cold deterrent and make money at the same time.
Chaps might be tempted to wear one or suffer a real red nose and Man Flu.