14 November 2009

The Misanthropist's Curse

There has been no update for the last week because, as my Twitter followers will already know from my painfully self-pitying tweets, I've been ill with the flu.

I developed a sore throat on Sunday evening and by Monday morning it felt like I'd eaten a light bulb and washed it down with a tube of facial scrub. It also felt like a nihilistic woodpecker had set up shop in my head and was taking lethargic, disinterested pecks at the inside of my skull.

Because I was awake at 4am, I arrived at work for 7 and dealt with a couple of things that really couldn't wait. By 9.30am, I was feeling absolutely terrible so left via Sainsbury's for some essential supplies.

This involved preparing a shopping list that an Alaskan survivalist would consider appropriate for an apocalyptic event: tins of soup, paracetamol, long-life milk, fruit juice, etc. Browsing the pharmacy section, I decided to treat myself to a bottle of Night Nurse.

Now I should point out that I've never had Night Nurse before. In fact, all I know about it is that, apparently, it can make you drowsy and you should refrain from operating heavy machinery. I've never operated heavy machinery before and, if everything goes according to plan career-wise, I hopefully never will. Additionally, at that particular point, 'drowsy' was proving to be a real selling point for me - the thought of guzzling several large mouthfuls of the stuff and then falling into bed for 12 hours was extraordinarily tempting. Night Nurse had, in my fevered imagination, become some sort of magical oblivion-bestowing elixir, a cross between Absinthe and Morphine. I had to have it.

It turns out, surprisingly, that you can't buy Night Nurse straight off the shelf. Instead, you have to speak to one of the Sainsbury's Pharmacy staff and ask them for it whereupon they engage you in a worrying round of questions and answers to determine whether or not you're allowed to have it.

"Are you currently taking any medication?"
"Nothing at all?"
"No blood-pressure medication?"
"Not yet. Continue asking me pointless questions and it may be a distinct possibility that some form of blood-pressure reduction will be required in the not too distant future but, right now, no."
"Nothing paracetamol-based?"
"No. Nothing. Nothing at all. Can I please have the medicine or would you like me to stand in the baked goods aisle and piss into a milk bottle first?" (I didn't say that, obviously)

Eventually, after a short lecture in which I was told that Night Nurse contains paracetamol and, accordingly, shouldn't be taken with any other paracetamol-based medication, for instance blood-pressure tablets which contain paracetamol, or Lemsip which also contains paracetamol or, obviously, paracetamol tablets, I had 1) one of those strange moments where a word completely loses its meaning and it's like you're hearing it for the first time (pa-ra-see-ta-molll - wow man, that's like, amazing) and 2) a bottle of Night Nurse.

Clutching the bottle of green potion to my chest, I shuffled away from the pharmacy, paid for my other goods and got a taxi home.

It is with enormous regret that I must tell you that was the most interesting thing to happen to me all week. I've spent the rest of my time sleeping badly at night, sleeping badly during the day, rubbing the skin around my nostrils raw with a campaign of sustained mucus-expelling and generally moaning grumpily at the walls of my empty flat.

This, you see, is one of the few downsides to being single. Most of the time it's absolutely wonderful. I can come home early from work, change immediately into my pajamas, eat cold macaroni cheese straight from the tin with a dirty spoon whilst watching a movie on the laptop, and I don't have anyone berating me for being a slovenly lummox.

If I so choose, I can wake up on a Saturday morning, completely forgo showering, and spend the entire day padding barefoot from room to room, alternating between the Internet, the xbox and the fridge.

I often hear single men bemoaning their situation and wishing they had a person to share their life. Usually they're pining for someone to snuggle up with on the sofa while watching TV; a person to chat to about their problems or their day at work; someone they can go for long autumnal, leaf-kicking walks with; or a companion to share the good times and the bad. Occasionally, they'll tell the truth and just admit that they're gagging for a blowjob, but usually they try to dress it up with romance and candles and ice cream and hugs.

Now, personally I find all of that more than a little bewildering. If I'm curled up on the sofa watching TV, the last thing I want is someone wittering away next to me asking stupid questions and making stultifyingly banal observations:

"Who's that man? Is he the one that ran the woman over?"
"I'm only asking a question. Is he the man that ran her over earlier?"
"Yes, just watch it."
"I am watching it! I just wanted to know if that's the same man."
"Yes. Yes it is."
"So why did he do that then?"
"How the bloody hell should I know? You know as much as I do, for the love of Christ! I don't have some incredible mediumistic ability that allows me to prophesy the ending of the film! I haven't got a well-thumbed copy of the screenplay folded up in my back pocket! The only reason I know as much as I do is because I've been concentrating on the movie rather than blathering on about what happened to Cheryl in the office this week and whether or not we should buy those new towels you saw because they're 50% off in the sale and would really contrast well with the fucking carpet!"
"Well there's no need to get angry."
"Get out and never come back."

As for autumnal walks, I have never ever understood people who peer out of the window, observe a miserable overcast sky heavy with storm-clouds, litter skittering around the pavement like an excitable yorkshire terrier, and chirpily suggest getting dressed in thick clothing so that they can go for a stroll around a leaf-strewn, muddy park.

Why in the name of Jesus suffering Christ would you want to do that? What possible benefit will you gain from shuffling around in foliage-camouflaged dogshit, a penetrating Siberian gale blasting at your exposed cheeks, ears and nose until your face feels like it's been pressed into a bag of frozen peas for half an hour? It's a stupid thing to do and anyone who takes part in it should be lambasted and ridiculed for their idiotic behaviour.

We, as a species, do not need to aimlessly wander around outside in the bitter cold. Why do you think we invented houses, central heating and steaming mugs of tea?

So the usual trappings and enticements that one would expect from a relationship hold no interest for me whatsoever. What I do miss, however, is having someone to look after me when I'm ill.

Laying in bed, nose streaming, head pounding, voice like a hung-over Dalek, is not a pleasant experience at the best of times. Doing it alone is even worse.

When I'm ill, I want to be in a position where I can demand things!

"Ohhhhhhh...(cough).....ohhhhhhhh.......can I have a Lemsip? My throat (hack) is really sore. And I need (snuffle) some more tissues. And can you (hawk) change the DVD please? I can't move (snivel)."

One of the few pleasures to be derived from a period of illness is a brief glimpse into the world of the Edwardian gentleman - a world of finger-snapping and brusque orders; whisker-stroking and demands for attention. For an all too fleeting spell, one is waited on hand and foot and it's bloody wonderful.

But, alas, as a single man, there is nobody to plump my pillow, carefully dab my glistening brow, or refill my glass of fruit juice.

Such tasks must I carry out myself, sniffling and whining, body racked with pain, pitiful groans echoing emptily around the sparse, cold flat. A tragic, hunched figure shuffling through the kitchen like a sad, doe-eyed spectre.

This, my friends, is the misanthropists curse - to suffer alone, unloved, disregarded and ignored.

On the bright side, I don't have to share any of my ice cream so, you know, swings and roundabouts.


Rammi said...

The pharmacist could've boiled down those questions to "Is it man flu?"

phsend said...

I hope you are feeling better by now but if not I can highly recommend massaging the middle toe on your left foot for about 20 minutes and you will soon be cured.

If you have a spare twenty quid I can recommend a fine practitioner.

You may be sceptical my friend, but I believe there is a link between applying pressure to a particular part of the body (say by tightening a cable tie around a finger) and the future onset of a nasty infection in someone's upper respiratory trach.

Now if only I could find some supporting evidence for that on the web :)

Dan said...

Rammi - Man flu? How dare you! I'll have you know I was suffering from a serious bout of seasonal flu which might well have put paid to a man of lesser constitution. Man flu indeed, the very idea! :o)

phsend - Touche! Very nicely thought out! The troubling thing is that I'm absolutely certain there are some woo-merchants out there who would actually agree with what you said in jest. "Ah, well the cable tie clearly disrupted the flow of chi which resulted in an imbalance of your immune system. Here, let me crack your neck in a dangerous manner, that'll help."