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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I've lost count of the number of people who have advised me to try strong drink for my snot-ridden state.

It's not just because I look like a drinker. This even happens when I'm on the phone.

I only have to cough a little or sniffle slightly and they're straight in: "What you need," they'll say, "is a large slug of rum topped up with warm milk."

One of my neighbours, who looks and behaves like Miss Holiday Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, suggested a tumbler-full of Scotch, downed in one at around Noon before retreating under a 13.5 tog duck-down duvet. "At the very least, it'll bring on a false dusk," she said.

I, however, believe in what my Mum told me when I was a little boy: "Try taking everything the chemist has got, all the cough and cold remedies there are, and you'll soon get rid of even the heaviest cold in about seven days.

"If you take nothing at all, it'll be about a week."

I've also been variously recommended to pink gins with extra Angostura and a few pints of Timothy Taylor's Landlord. They all seem to end with the notion of going straight to bed and sweating it out anyway, even if it's a mug of cocoa laced with iced Armagnac. (By the way, I'm not at all sorry if this week's column bears a remarkable similarity to last week's. One of the side effects of a winter in a cold climate is that it gives everyone something to talk about. I could go on, and probably will).

The best cold I ever had lasted a fortnight, and I was somewhat mollified by the proximity of a lemon tree outside the front door where I dozed in the brilliant Ibiza sunshine. I drank lemon tea day and night and just knew I wasn't going to get scurvy.

I was also comforted by knowing how I had caught it, which was not as my Mum would always have me believe (not wearing a hat and gloves), but by shaking hands. This was the stunning finding of a team of researchers who spent millions of pounds giving people colds artificially and then trying every remedy known to man and witches, cauldrons permitting.

In the end they went to America in search of their fortunes and were never heard from again. No doubt they just got drunk.

Anyway I see I'm not on my own: Professor Ron Eccles, chairman of something called The Cold and Flu Council and director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, is sniffling away like mad.

I wanted to ring him up and say: "Physician, heal thyself!" but I know what would have happened. He'd have said: "Why don't you try a slug of bourbon with a sugar cube floating on top."

Sinclair Newton