The politics of snot
Eyes-watering, you propel yourself like an automaton into normal morning routine, despite crying eyes, breathing difficulties and a sneeze so violent it makes every object in a five-metre radius shake and propels snot at a speed of 100mph.
But you are British, it’s just a common cold after all.
On arrival at work, late and weak as a newborn kitten, you collapse at your desk with eyes streaming and a barking cough, hoping the storm will pass, as you build a pile of snot-rags reminiscent of Everest on your desk, spluttering away while generously spreading germs on every workplace object, typing away and tipping supermarket drugs down your neck.
Your colleagues eye you warily and inch further away, knowing the circulating air conditioning has already seen off any chance of a healthy future for them and their extended family.
‘Should you be here?’, somebody brave ventures as you sob slightly, bent over your desk in a cloud of disgusting, spiralling, plague.
You cough in reply, knowing full well, if they avoided a day off last week when infected with the super-germ then you too could brave the onslaught.
It’s the survival of the unfittest.
After being inflicted with the second rhinovirus (cold) in three months, I’m beginning to think there are serious advantages to working from home.
There is not a week goes by when a member of the newsroom is not infected, sharing illness generously. Me included.
Every year, the average adult in Britain contracts two to five of these highly infectious illnesses, which might explain why the politics of snot are so complicated - nobody wants somebody suffering or visibly infectious in the room but the realities of losing so many staff, particular during the winter months, is daunting.
And stoicism is inbuilt in the British pysche - we revel in our own sacrifice as we, by default, sacrifice our colleagues to the fate of virulent lurgy.
It may be the most digusting, unpleasant, visibly distressing illness but we’re British.
We’re all fine.