Firstly, my apologies to those many thousands of you who undoubtedly sent me e-mails after last week's column; the Post e-mail system seems not to be working or, at least, has locked the door and is refusing to let anyone in, which amounts to the same thing. Please redirect your messages to my home page.
Now then, you’ll have noticed over the last two weeks the steadily growing pile of green stained hankies crumpled in the corner of the Cartoonist's Lounge like so many desecrated flags. I have had a cold dogging me all the while. As I pride myself on the fact that I am not a 'man', I haven't liked to mention it. But now that I’ve shaken the thing off I think I may be safe to talk without fear that my voice will emerge in the pitiful, croaky, mother-me tones today's 'man' uses in a bone headed ploy meant to elicit sympathy from nearby females but more likely to elicit a pillow over the face.
I enjoy colds immensely. I was prone to them as a child; only get a couple a year now, and so they are like rarely visiting friends. I am especially prone; you'll be thrilled to know, to catarrh. Pale and sweating, laugh turning into cough, drinking plenty of red wine so that when I expectorate a beautiful bloody burgundy clot is produced, I am able to indulge my TB fantasy. Oh to lie in acres of filthy bed linen, propped up by seven pillows, surrounded by besmirched lace handkerchiefs and parchments on which are scrawled my first last will and testament. There is poetry scribbled in the margins, and on the bed linen, and on the wallpaper, and on the cuffs and collars and ties of my visitors, the ink running into the blood clots. Ah, bliss. There is something wonderfully edifying about a diseased body: it leads to a diseased mind, and that's a guilt free luxury when there is a solid corporeal cause to blame.
Tuberculosis is on the rise once more, but I've had my BCG inoculation, damn it. There are plenty of other diseases to catch, of course, but in my foetid, cliché ridden mind none is so glamorous, because none other turns one into an effete aesthete... or is that the plural of aesthete's foot? I heartily suspect, in any case, that if the current mania for hygiene above and beyond the call of necessity or sense continues, then I shall be one of the few survivors of the Slight Sniffle Epidemic which will wipe out the larger part of the human race in decades to come, and all the balmy tissues in the world won't stop it.
Let this be a lesson to you. Don't buy anti-bacterial products; don't use a dishwasher (I’ve had it argued to me that they're more hygienic; and there was I thinking they were simply more lazy); and eat things which have fallen on the floor (its okay if you wipe it on your trousers first).