Bring a tin of Roses, a tis­sue, as we all fall down… with flu

The Sunday Telegraph - - Sunday Comment - OLIVER PRITCHETT hey he a, on hey ay: READ MORE co eloque th L n doi we P an kn Joh cou The da

Last Thurs­day, as I was buy­ing my first mince pies of the year in Marks & Spencer – while wear­ing my grisly skele­ton Hal­lowe’en socks, by the way – it oc­curred to me that the tra­di­tional wave of flu jab pro­pa­ganda seems to start ear­lier and ear­lier ev­ery year.

In the old days you never heard about it un­til af­ter the clocks went back, but now the GP’s surgery, which has been so stand-off­ish the whole year up to now, is keen for us to get in touch and pop in, and there are en­tic­ing no­tices in all the chemists.

Flu is very much the next big thing. The first week in Oc­to­ber will surely soon be des­ig­nated the In­fluenza Fes­ti­val, with spe­cial greet­ings cards, gifts and deals and meals and cel­e­bra­tions.

It’s time to send those cards say­ing “Con­grat­u­la­tions granny! You are at risk”, and “the per­fect gift for him” is a box of gran­dad-sized tis­sues. This week, chil­dren, dressed as germs, may go out in the evenings, ring door­bells and say “Jab or treat?”. Gas­trop­ubs may of­fer 10 per cent off the price of the spe­cial Sun­day roast to any­one who has had the jab and is will­ing to roll up his or her sleeve and show the in­flamed up­per arm.

In the bars and night­clubs, the cock­tail of the week is “Un­der the Weather” and con­sists of honey and hot lemon with a shot of tequila and parac­eta­mol sprin­kles. Just what the doc­tor or­dered. The cli­max of the In­fluenza Fes­ti­val, just as the symp­toms are be­gin­ning to kick in, will be the first early crashes and flashes of the three-week Guy Fawkes cel­e­bra­tion. For­get that split­ting headache.

It is re­ported that nearly 6,000 items have been lost from mu­se­ums in Bri­tain. Stolen, per­haps, or mis­placed or just “mis­lo­cated”. There is some­thing pi­quant about this, as mu­se­ums are places where they keep col­lec­tions of things that have been found – dug up by arche­ol­o­gists, lo­cated in chim­neys or ex­tracted from tombs.

Many of th­ese items may still be some­where on the premises but no­body knows ex­actly where. The cu­ra­tors prob­a­bly go through the same rou­tine as the rest of us. “So where did you last see that flint ar­row­head?” they say. “Re­trace your steps to the Palae­olithic age and start again from there.” Or they will re­peat “jaw­bone of a diplodocus” 50 times in the hope that it will do the trick. There’s prob­a­bly a cab­i­net with a drawer full of me­dieval peas­ants’ socks where all sorts of odd things even­tu­ally turn up. Or they may seek guid­ance by con­sult­ing the por­trait of St An­thony of Padua, only to find that it, too, is miss­ing.

When the Ge­or­gian tea­spoon (or what­ever) is fi­nally lo­cated, they prob­a­bly, like the rest of us, say: “There! It al­ways turns out to be in the very last cen­tury you look.”

Search­ing for th­ese ex­hibits s is a job for the ar­chae­ol­o­gists. Send for or the ex­citable Tony Robin­son and that Time Team TV pro­gramme. Let et them move into the Bri­tish Mu­seum m and dig a trench from the El­gin Mar­bles ar­bles to the mu­seum shop and an­other her from the cafe­te­ria to the Egyp­tian tian room. Fas­ci­nat­ing ob­jects will l be dug up, such as a crum­pled piece ece of a drink­ing ves­sel with the wor­drd “Costa” still vis­i­ble on it, an Oys­ter ys­ter Card still in use in 2013, a frag­ment ment

at tele­ opin­ion of coloured pa­per, prob­a­bly part of a child’s draw­ing dat­ing from some his­toric school party visit. Even­tu­ally, with luck, they will turn up the mis­laid Saxon hoard.

Here’s a fan­tas­tic idea: what about a TV food pro­gramme in which the con­tes­tants’ dishes are judged by a panel of gourmet pigs? The work­ing ti­tle is The Swill is Brill and the elo­quent grunts and squeals of the judges would make it per­fectly clear who the win­ner was.

This oc­curred to me af­ter I read that Prue Leith had the habit of tak­ing the Great Bri­tish Bake-Off left­overs to feed her neigh­bour’s pigs. She had to stop do­ing this af­ter the vet warned they were be­com­ing obese.

Pigs are ex­tremely in­tel­li­gent and also great per­son­al­i­ties and I know I would gladly watch

Ma Masterchef if Gregg Wal­lace and John Torode were re­placed by a cou­ple of dis­cern­ing Tam­worths. There is po­ten­tial here. I can fore­see the day when a Glouces­ter Old Spot makes a re­ally valu­able con­tri­bu­tion on Qu Ques­tion Time.

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