News Real 10 – Issue 31


Apparently I live on a street identified by the World Health Organisation as the influenza capital of the western world.

The irritating condition is so prevalent in this street of sixty or so houses that, per capita, it represents the most fluey place in the western hemisphere. At least it explains all the sniffling that can be heard in passing down the place.

I used to attribute all the snivelling to grief, sadness or being primarily Tory voters. It seems I was wrong. All this time, we were, on mass, suffering from something worse than a cold but less severe than syphilis. Of course, news of this street’s condition has gone viral on social media.

As testimony to the Dunkirk spirit, visitors to the area leave boxes of hand-embroidered linen handkerchiefs to aid us in our suffering. The only group that seems to be negative about the situation is the employer. They insist on us attending work, regardless of the consequences. Filling hankies, tissues and sometimes waste bins with infectious mucus is an expectorant in the present climate. Our own embarrassment and organically anti-social condition is ignored by commercial agencies hell bent on productivity. The fact that we street dwellers produce more infectious spores in confined and ill-served office spaces lands on deaf ears.

If we can stand up or sit at a computer, then we can work, ignoring the obvious symptoms of discomfort and counter-productive effects of influenza. This insouciant attitude also ignores any lasting damage working when ill could have on the physiognomy of any human being. Just last week I was reading, in a magazine in the doctors waiting room, an article about the possible detrimental effects of trying to ignore viruses and the physical strains they cause in remaining upright. In such vulnerable states people are even prone to take up gambling, smoking and drinking cough medicines.

It seems they don’t care that our condition and its consequent spasms of sneezing, coughing and hawking can leave our keyboards and screens in a state not far removed from a scene in Naked Lunch. On one recent Friday, one of our number was in such a state that by the end of her seven-and-a-half hour long shift, her escape key was so gummed up that a micro-culture had begun to develop.

We’ve been moved to cease our street parties. It seems that our neighbourly practice of wipe swapping is contributing to the epidemic. It is beholden to us all in the street to take every possible measure to avoid becoming a street of ill-repute. This despite being only 143,078th*on the league table of annual economic hours lost to Britain plc.

Oddly enough our street isn’t the snottiest in the west. Apparently a place in Henley-on-Thames qualifies as the mucus capital. Although some dispute the term as for this particular district, the word should be snootiest.

* This figure doesn’t include cul-de-sacs as they are prone to mass conformist behaviours, especially when it comes to viruses.

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