There is nothing worse than waiting for a cold to come out*. It's like walking around with a cartoon anvil above your head, ready to drop. As son as that scratchy warning niggle at the back of your throat announces itself, you're a ticking slime bomb - you know you only have minimal days in which to get everything done as a functioning human, before you're reduced to a clammy, tissue-strewn corpse who can only say "blargggh".
If properly planned and furnished with the right pharmaceuticals, I believe having a cold can be a positive experience. You get to catch up on your ITV2 viewing, not wear a bra for a couple of days, and uncover a whole fresh new layer of skin on your nose. So when I felt the warning niggle a couple of days ago, I said "ahoy! What have we here? A cold on the horizon?" and set about battening down my hatches with all the stoicism of a wizened sea captain (who doesn't quite know what battening means).
I even allowed myself a specific window of time in which to be ill. I pencilled it in my mental diary and faxed it over to my white blood cells - a whole weekend in which I had nothing to do but be a snivelling invalid. I did some prep, by binge drinking Berocca for three days in advance and digging out my slipper socks. It was going to be a congestion carnival. A little paracetamol party for one. And best of all, I got to go and spend a stupid amount of money in Boots.
I can probably blame the fact that I've never taken drugs recreationally for the way I feast on pharmaceuticals every time I have an excuse. This doesn't count as recreational, of course; there is nothing leisurely about my attitude to flu treatments. It is a full time job, and I approach it like an Apprentice contestant approaches a weekly task - with minimum knowledge, maximum confidence and a little whiney voice.
And oh, there have been such advancements in the world of lurgy-treatment since my last bout! Strepsils with added vitamin C, Olbas Oil-infused tissues, supplements with guarana so that you can fight germs and go to a rave at the same time. Unfortunately Lemsip still only comes in two flavours, bile and purple bile, but you can now pay an extra quid for a super duper shiny-boxed version which I can only assume, as it claims only to treat the exact same symptoms as the regular version, gives you perfect pitch or something at the same time.
So I embarked on my Designated Weekend of Ill swimming in advantage points, gathered my blanket pile, positioned my tissue bin, made sure I was within easy reach of fluids and the remote control. And waited. And waited some more. When, by Saturday evening, I still felt pretty chipper, I started getting anxious. Either I had managed to bypass the cold altogether, or it was working on its own agenda.
Two days on, I have learned the following things – recovery speed is not directly proportional to the amount you spend on drugs, antibodies do not conform to schedules, and it is far less fun being a clammy, tissue-strewn corpse who can only say "blargggh" in the office.
*This is a lie. There are plenty of things worse, of course - waiting for a donor organ, waiting for a delivery man to call between 9 and 5, waiting for a night bus in the rain. Waiting for Godot. But being ill gives me an inflated sense of self-importance as well as swollen glands.