Loving the flu

2015-09-03 08:30
David Knowles

David Knowles

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SEPTEMBER heralds the beginning of spring, a time of freshness and growth as far as nature is concerned, but a time of mischievous skulduggery on behalf of us as human beings.

It begins during the winter months and unfortunately, as the most intelligent form of life on Earth — at least that’s what we like to think — we abuse the privilege of having a brain and being able to think, combining the two to become devious liars and shysters.

What is it that enables people to undergo such change and deliberate personality disorder? It’s three letters that abbreviate a certain sickness which has become the gateway to sympathy, time off work and deceit.

Consider the word “flu”. A shortening of the word influenza, it has become one of the most common words in the English language, wantonly thrown about daily as the disease affecting most people, adding misery to their lives, but ironically providing deceitful pleasure as a source of relaxation and shutting off from the daily grind of work and household life.

Gone are the days of talking about the common cold. Despite there being more than 200 viruses which can cause a “cold” as such, these have been well and truly booted into touch, swamped, strangled and virtually wiped out by the flu curse.

Have a blocked nose, a cough, a sore throat?

That’s definitely flu, fair and square. No question, no second thought. In the car, off to the doctor, take whatever is prescribed and best of all, get booked off work for a few days because it’s very contagious and unfair to share it with work colleagues. Really? You value your work people more than your own family — wife and children?

It’s okay to stay at home and infect everything and everybody around you, but the same cannot be done at work?

Then the whole family suffers; children miss school and worst of all, there are people out there who crave this type of thing, who seem to get a kick out of saying they have the flu. They cannot get attention or blend in with others as normal folks do, so the best way to put a kink in the road and get people to notice you is to step forth with raspy voice and sniffing nose to say the flu bug is visiting.

In today’s world of social media, it works wonderfully well. A quick SMS, a mention on Facebook and everyone replies with feelings of pathos and sadness, understanding how terrible this flu bug is and emitting gushing, sympathetic words which are somehow hoped to quell the nasty menace.

In 1918, the great flu pandemic killed 50 million to 100 million people across the globe. That was three to five percent of the world’s population. It affected 500 million people and, nearly 100 years later, at the rate people are getting the flu all the time, we should be stepping over bodies in the streets and jumping queues wherever we may be as people fall to the ground around us. It should be worse than the daily death rate in Stalingrad during World War 2, where up to 4 000 people were perishing daily in the city.

Do we all get flu? The symptoms of this pesky bug are high fever, an aching body and respiratory problems. The good old cold — if any of us can remember what that is — concerns a blocked or runny nose, with an uncomfortable throat. However, flu it is and flu it remains.

All people get these days is flu and to crown it all, there are the people who are proud to have it. They love buzzing around at social occasions, after they have conquered the curse with the latest antibiotics, beating their chests as they take great delight in announcing how they bucked the system by having three days off work and spent the days at home watching cricket and working through their movie collection. If anything, the people themselves are the vermin and a danger to society, not the disease.

Many houses still have so-called domestic quarters attached to them. These days, they should be quarantine rooms, where those struck down with flu should be sent to recuperate and stay away from others. No work — great — but then it’s three days under lock and key in the dreaded Q room.

When God delivered the 10 commandments to Moses, one was missing: Thy shall not abuse your health.

Appreciate the gift of life and good health and be honest to yourself.

• David Knowles is a sports reporter at The Witness

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