Jonathan Dodd‘s latest column. Guest opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication. Ed
It’s hay fever season again. What a ridiculous name. There’s no hay round here and I haven’t got a fever. This year the season started off quietly, and I thought I’d got away with it, but this week it got going with a vengeance.
What I’ve got is a constantly dripping nose and eyes that feel like they’ve had their top layer of skin peeled off. And I’m sneezing explosively, waking people up right across the office. I’m becoming unpopular.
Strictly speaking, of course, hay fever is some kind of allergy to one or more sorts of pollen that sail gaily up your nostrils and irritates the hell out of your sinus linings. These are always described as being ‘delicate’ and ‘sensitive’, like having a couple of nervous maiden aunts living in your facial cavities. I never used to get hay fever. This is recent-onset-pollen-allergy syndrome, and I never asked for it and I want it to go away.
Like a seven-year itch
I read something once about our bodies. Apparently we renew ourselves completely every seven years. There’s supposed to be not a single cell that’s not been regenerated inside any of us more than seven years ago, and probably with all new material. But everything doesn’t quite get replaced exactly the same. There are supposed to be certain conditions which can appear or disappear during these cycles, and hay fever is one of them.
If I could remember when it all started I might be able to look forward to its disappearance (or get depressed about another seven years before the window of opportunity comes round again). At times like this I feel like a football manager, stuck with that embarrassingly-expensive foreign striker who has mysteriously lost his goal-scoring streak, and nobody wanted to buy him before the end of the transfer window.
I blame television
They also say that a lot more people are suffering from these modern allergies lately. I’m in two minds about this, because back then things weren’t recognised or named, so they weren’t recorded. Back in my schooldays, so long ago they weren’t even in colour, I remember a boy called Cooper, who was friendless because his nose never stopped running. I’d bet anything now, looking back at his sad face, that he had an allergy of some sort. I can also remember my Dad going up to the bathroom in the evenings and shaking the house with a bombardment of sneezes.
But mostly I blame television. More specifically, colour television. My parents were very keen to get colour TV, and so was I, after the black and white moon landings and the Beatles doing All You Need is Love and the Magical Mystery Tour in monochrome. My Dad went round to Radio Rentals and brought home a lovely TV with colour. And that was when the rot – or rather, the allergies – set in.
Imagine you’re a TV producer, faced with an endless vista of programming time to fill, having to maximise the colour to make everyone rush out and buy the new sets. What programmes would you pick that were bound to be cheap to make as well as very popular? Gardening shows, of course! And suddenly the airwaves were filled with beautiful flowers in spotless gardens with delightfully green lawns. So far so good.
But after a while people became bored with the usual garden flowers. They wanted more. So the gardening experts went abroad and brought back new plants to delight their audiences. And the garden centres began to stock them up, and on it went. More and more varieties from more and more countries. And instead of the old limited stock of pollen in the air, there was an explosion of new types.
It sticks paper beautifully
I reckon someone found some lovely new bloom in the Indonesian rain forest, sold it by the million to all my neighbours, and that’s why my nostrils are constantly exuding a thin stream of watered-down semi-liquid stuff that looks and behaves like evo-stik. In industrial quantities. It’s not much good for metals, but it sticks paper beautifully.
Thanks a bouquet!
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Image: Becky Stern under CC BY 2.0
Image: Becky Stern under CC BY 2.0