The plague, pneumonia, pleurisy, tuberculosis, smallpox, scurvy, the black lung, the yeasty oesophagus, the mildewed mouth; call it what you want, just don’t call it the common cold. Its time has come. Beckoned by the semi-solid September mists, it crawls forth from the bogholes of the west, sneakily seeking its bronchial bedsit. Soon it will be airborne on the phleghmy coughs of the masses, sporulating and dividing. Insidious and invisible it will strike you down. With the rattly lungs, the weeping nose, and the stinging eyes you’ll be lucky to feel right this side of May 2005. The country has become a festering agar plate.
In the Universities we witness the phenomenon of the sunkissed students returning from the Americas. Buoyed up by the sexual confidence of a summer talking like dis begorrah! to geh a bih o’ dat (;) or a bih o’ dis o//o if ya know whah I mean ;), they hit the nightclubs of Galway, Nobber, Dublin and Bohola, working industriously to make the most of the short-lived transatlantic sex magic. In a week they’re red-nosed and bed-bound, victims of the soft septic air, suddenly exuding a new and special sort of sexiness, irresistible to necrophiliacs and vultures. I have one treasured memory of two flatmates of mine who spent a fruitful day skipping classes while trying to see who could first fill a pint-glass with mucous. In those days if we came down with a bacterial infection we’d grab a knife and harvest penicillin from the green Galway walls. In the cold clammy caves of the Claddagh the mould of the sea happily coexisted with the mould of the river; and to survive you quickly grew gills.
I myself have contracted a little rhinovirus. I’m codding myself that I’ll shake it off in a few days. You know, drink some lempsip, wear warm clothes, shut those draughty doors, but it’s not going to happen is it? Instead my lifeforce will slowly ebb away from me, reaching a nadir just after Christmas. When the jolly festive hangover wears off, the underlying cold will reassert itself with nasty vigour. It’s amazing the shattering effect falling asleep on a frosty lawn (after a feed of whiskey) can have on the immune-sytem. And to make matters worse the revitalisted post-Christmas virus is often compounded by the horrendous new woe of colonic turkey-sandwich congestion. I’ve written a poem about that ye know. It’s called "Good King Wenceles last ate prunes on the feast of Stephen"
No I’m messin’ it’s called something far more dignified than that - "The Log".
The Log (of the Magi)
In the dying embers of December someone is crouching
And a fat bolus of Santy-shit is per-istal-tical-ly slouching
Towards a foul Winter's birth.
Midwifed by paraffin
Are the first signs of the turtle grin.
And the color is tainted
Like original sin
I see you
It teases so mockingly
hanging um-bili-cally it’s vacating so softly
Dropping with dignity
Into its cold ceramic cot.
Phut it goes
Phut it goes
Phoot it goes
Phoot it goes
The Creator rejoices to see what he’s done
A monster is born into weak January sun