HAVE I just had a summer cold or was I suffering from hay fever?

I have never suffered from pollen affliction in my life but the cold I have had has been strange and unpredictable.

Normally when I sense the onset of the common cold virus I snort First Defence, a nasal spray from Vicks.

Sticking something up your nose and snorting is not, in these circumstances, particularly pleasant, but it has proved extremely beneficial. It’s as if the spray you inject is issuing a challenge to the virus – come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

In the past the virus has often declined the challenge and slunk away after a day or two of being a petty nuisance.

I take colds seriously because without treatment they develop swiftly into man-flu. And I am a martyr to man-flu. Ask any man. This is a serious illness that involves being miserable and feeling sorry for yourself for days on end.

This time I also wanted to get rid of the cold in case I got a call from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary about my impending cataract operation.

I know there is a three month waiting list, but one can live in hope. What if I got a call saying there had been a cancellation?

I had visions of laying on the operating table and sneezing at a crucial point of the eye surgery.


There was no call, as it happens, and the cold symptoms hung on for 10 days. In the end I gave up on the medication and challenged the virus myself, in the manner of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz: Put ’em up! Put ’em up!

It still it declined and slid away with a whimper.

“Are you sure it’s not hay fever?” I was asked.

Hay fever? At my age?

According to the NHS website: “Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions. It is estimated that there are more than 10 million people with hay fever in England. Hay fever usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years, but you can get it at any age.”

An allergy? We were too poor to have allergies when I was growing up. The closest I got was an ology. Biology at college. I failed.

And now at my age I may have an allergy?

Symptoms, says the site, include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes. It can effect people extremely seriously.

The site says basic precautions to prevent the symptoms of hay fever include wearing wrap around sunglasses, changing your clothes and taking a shower after being outdoors, and, when the pollen count is high, staying indoors.

Just one question. Does the pub count as indoors?