Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Ring a ring a roses...

Now, evidently I was not alive in Britain during the 1600s. I have, however, been to the York and London dungeons, where, among other things (such as being shoved into a room of mirrors on your own for 15 minutes with things screaming and rattling in cages) you are treated to an account and demonstration of ailments that have struck down people who lived at different periods throughout history. They may be actors, but by gum the employees of said dungeons know how to make you feel queasier than a hangover at the fairground with their information on all things ye olde and disgustinge. So no, I'm not an expert on the subject, I'm certainly no doctor, let alone one who acts out or diagnoses (life threatening) illnesses of days gone by, but nevertheless...

I'm pretty sure the bloke sitting next to me on the tube this morning had the bubonic plague.

I did wonder why the seat next to him was free on such a busy train, but I soon realised after about 30 seconds that it was because Derek Death next door seemed to have some sort of plague-ish cough. Strange, you might say, that this is the first diagnosis I made. Not simply flu, you may ask? A chest infection, perhaps? No. This cough defied anything I have ever heard in any NHS waiting room in my entire life. Even in Hull. The deep, rasping, spluttering "Just trying to clear the sick from the back of my throat dear, I'll be down in a second" kind of choking sound which filled the carriage definitely screamed "The rats have got 'im, m'lady!" It drew fearsome, wide-eyed stares from the other commuters sitting opposite and around us...and then sympathetic, almost pitying looks in my direction; worried glances suggesting a mixture of 'what the fuck was that?' and 'eek, you'll be next'.

Of course, although Boris Black-Death was sitting right next to me, infecting me with his every cough, something stopped me getting up to move. All those years of history lessons teaching us that rats were the ones that spread the disease! Bah! They missed the fundamental fact that no, it wasn't rats, it was British politeness which caused that pesky plague noir to spread. 'Ah! Someone beside me is infected with a deadly plague! Get up and move? Don't be silly, I might cause offense! No, I'll just sit here, catch something and whinge about it later. Toodlepip!'

As for using the public transport in such a condition, well, I suppose he had to get to quarantine somehow. Surely with such an infectious illness he wouldn't be heading into work to share his misfortune with collegues? The thought of it! Think of all those germy rat-flea hands all over the photocopier or around the office kitchen: 'cuppa tea, Sandra?' , 'Ooh, yes please Boris!' then 'One plague or two?'

I left the tube a few stops after him, and along with a tickling in my throat and the beginnings of a cough, I also noticed that no one took up the empty seat next to me. My fellow passengers did, however, paint the seat with a large red cross and hand me a bunch of posies. About a pocketful, infact. A reserved but well-meaning lot, those London tube commuters.


theperpetualspiral said...

Goodbye, it was fun reading your musings. Please don't come to Oxford before the lurgy takes you to a better place ;)

Bec said...

Put yourself in the bubble a la Bubble Boy now. And then back into the house with you. They'll be along to nail up the door in just a jiffy.

James said...

What song do you want played at your funeral? To think you got struck down with this just as you got the big break on (behind the) telebox.

AFC 30K said...

I was on the Victoria line around mid morning on Monday. I hope that was before the infection had started.

Although I'm travelling home tomorrow, I'll be ensconced in the air conditioned comfort of my Mercedes....(van...)

pink jellybaby said...

You put me off my Weetabix

non-Blondie said...

hahaha not to laugh at your misfortune, but...well...ok it's funny and I'm laughing. It always happens in the mornings, you're too tired to consider the implications of the suspiciously empty seat being ignored by the other sardines/passengers. You collapse gratefully into it, only to realise there's a peculiar squelching from the seat, or perhaps a stench (odour of death?) emanating from your neighbours. Ick!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh Jo, that was wonderful. So funny and so true.

Have the buboes started appearing yet? Oooh I do love that word - bubo, don't you?

Frankly, Scarlett said...

HEHEHE - Borris-Black Death...'rats have hot 'im' TOOOO funny. I hope you don't catch it!

Miss Understood said...

So...have you fallen down yet?

(How DO you spell 'A Tissue'. Or atishyoo, or whatever it is? I have a feeling it's something completely ridiculous..

London-Lass said...

How awful. And equally terrible that such an illness should strike one down whilst they are so young ... my prayers are with your family.

I had some guy on the tube once who (just as the train lurched and then stopped in the middle of a tunnel) suddenly sit forward, clutch his chest and then, whilst I and everyone else sat opposite held our breath, went through a few seconds of grimacing chest clutching, before settling back down in his seat again - right as rain. A few minutes went past when he did it again and whilst in the middle of clutching his chest for the second time I was just about to squeak "Are you OK?" when he suddenly let out the biggest belch you've ever heard in your life. Which was also the smelliest burp I've ever had to endure too.

Girl Vino said...

Eeewwww. I have actually begun to pay attention to such things like someone coughing up their lung while politely placing their hand over their mouth only to shake someones hand moments later. I say again, ew!

Fish said...

It was always my wont to get personal space on the Circle Line by loudly asking a fellow passenger: "Excuse me, would you happen to know which stop it is for the Grays Inn Road?* I'm looking for the Hospital for Tropical Diseases."

* Kings Cross, fyi.

Jo said...

perpetual - or, with any luck, to a 5* hotel in heaven. (not Haven)

Bec - Ring the bells! Bring out your dead!

James - Songwise...I reckon 'Do the locomotive' would be wicked

afc - You might be lucky. Anyway, the Victoria line specialises in rabies I think.

PJB - I always put you off your weetabix!

non blondie - sods law isn't it? The lesson? Kick someone else out of their seat, then you'll know its ok.

reluctant - it is a rather fun word. Bubo. Like pustule. Satisfying.

Frankly Scarlett - So far it seems I have immunity. Don't get too close though.

Miss Understood - I cunningly avoided typing it...I think it's AHHHHHTISHOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Londonlass - Thats sooo rankus... I'm surprised no one started yanking down the emergency stop button in a panic. Belching Burper eeuurrghh.

Girl Vino - yeah me too! And also when people are having dips and they bite half of what they're eating then dip it with the end thats been in their mouth. Not for sharing. And a right pain once you've noticed it, coz it puts you off some right good nibbles.

Hello fish! Please try it and record it and send it to me. I will pay you in farleys rusks.


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