Wash your hands before you read on

Confined to the bed, only appearing downstairs at meal times, and when cattle need feeding; it’s the Aussie flu.

By Denis Lehane

My writing this week comes with a health warning. So wash your hands before you read on, or else you’ll be blowing your nose by the time you come to the end.

I’m in the throes of the most woeful flu of all time.

My every mucus-laden cough, a carrier of countless undesirable microbes.

I was one of the first to contract the dreaded Aussie flu in this parish. Brought on, I fear, from watching too many Crocodile Dundee films over the Christmas.

In spite of the wife’s protestations that such Australian movies are very stale at this stage, I watched on, for I can be a reckless fool at times. And aren’t I sorry now that I did?

I watched all three Mick Dundee films, and I contracted the Aussie bug soon after. I have been laid up with it ever since. Confined to the bed most days, only appearing downstairs at meal times, and at times when cattle needed feeding.

What I haven’t sneezed out, or coughed up isn’t worth knowing. I’m in a terrible way, I’m telling you. So for God’s sake, rush to the sink and wash your hands again, before continuing. My writing today could be very contagious.

How I’ve managed to keep going at all is due to drugs of the strongest variety.

I’m like Elvis himself, going around the yard, with the height of the drugs. Bloated, stiff, incoherent and all shook up. All I’m short really is the microphone and the jumpsuit.

But, in fairness to myself — for in such times there is nobody else more deserving of praise — in spite of illness, no farm chore has been left undone. No animal has gone hungry as a consequence. The only one suffering is myself. I’m managing the best way that I can. There’s no complaints on the farm, ’tis off-farm where the bone of contention lies.

This idea I hear about the church doing away with the practice of hand shaking on account of fellows like me, for fear of spreading the bug, is a disgrace. Just when you’d believe things couldn’t get any worse... they get worse.

And there I have been for the past 20 years at mass, shaking the hand of every scoundrel and blackguard in the parish, believing it was the Christian thing to do.

Then, in my hour of need, when I could do with a warm hand on a cold Sunday morning, the hand is being withdrawn!

It’s been suggested of course that we use other forms of affection to show we care, but this hardly stretches to a kiss on the cheek, I suspect. ’Tis the bad job, to be getting rid of the handshake, is all I’m saying. Ostracising us flu-ridden few, like lepers.

Cancelling the handshake was the wrong move. Cancelling the collection would have been more beneficial all round. For everyone knows, loose change in the pocket is the greatest bacteria carrier of all.

Indeed, since I’ve fallen foul of the flu, I’ve abstained from paying all my outstanding debts and bills. Purely on medical grounds, of course.

The way I look at it. a fellow would be better off in debt rather than in sickness. Far better to my mind, to have a clean bill of health, than a clean slate. I’m staying well clear of my cheque book.

I’m signing off as I began, with an instruction for you to wash your hands.

For the last thing I want here in Kilmichael, is to be blamed for the spreading of the Australian bug.

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