Sunday 6 September 2009

Get a grip!

Yesterday I was at the indoor market in Toulouse - and I sneezed.

The crowd of people in front of me parted like the seas of Jordan and one man jumped physically, disrupting a display of meringues in the process.

Yes, swine fever fever has finally reached France.

France is always a little bit behind the rest of the world - rock and roll is at last beginning to loose its stranglehold on the music scene, they have elected a Thatcher government, thirty years after it was popular (if ever) and they are thinking about introducing recycling.

They still have those weird toilets though.

I was all right of course, just a bit over sensitive to the spice from the Indian stall I was passing at the time – the only contact I have had with possible Swine flu was talking to my sister on the phone a few weeks ago…………. Hmm, better ring her again.

In France of course no one calls it swine flu, that’s the rest of the world, here it is known as Gripe A.

Of course Gripe A-tchoo would be better, but would anyone laugh?

I had just come from the airport; Krissie was off to all parts Germany for a tour - where a new sign had appeared in the lifts.

It urged all travellers arriving FROM a country with known swine flu, or travelling TO one, to contact an emergency number if they felt ill.

Where does that leave as a possible destination?

It’s weird that Flu A has been compliant enough to wait for the school children to return from their holidays before striking the Hexagon (as France is sometimes affectionately known).

The government once famously, and publicly decreed that the Chenobyl fallout had stopped at the frontier and thus wouldn’t be a problem, but this time it looks suspiciously like a Gallic case of snearing at the rest of the world for being pointlessly paranoid and then months later doing the same thing.

My friend Dave writes from Ireland to inform me that the newspapers are carrying a story stating that the French have given up kissing to try and protect themselves from the rampaging germs.

Rumours had already reached me that companies in Paris had banned the kiss, and the handshake but, frankly, Paris is considered to be a case apart and distant enough to be as crazy as those English neighbours to the North.

Here in the South the local school has issued the kids with instructions to sneeze into a crooked elbow if necessary and wash hands in soap and water, even though – as my helpful son points out – the soap has all been removed and the water is only cold.

When I told my children what had happened in Toulouse they asked me how I reacted when I sneezed.

I gave a demonstration that involved the traditional head in hands approach only to be educated into the proper bent arm technique.

I spent 18 years trying to get my son to do something, anything, when he sneezed but did he listen?

The school tell him ONCE and now he’s lecturing ME!

This evening i was walking home through the forest past the local pig farmer's fields - and i sneezed.

The pigs, as one, looked up and ran!

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