There's a good chance that if you've been unwell over the last few months; a sort of crappy man-flu, slightly worse than a cold, that has hung around for weeks; that you've probably had swine flu. Yep, pig sickness could possibly have been rife and no one was that aware of it...
Two things: http://tinyurl.com/ydq2u5p is an interesting little article (despite seemingly sourced by the Daily Mail) that suggests that the swine flu pandemic has been promoted by greedy drugs companies and the second thing is the common belief, creeping into papers and other media, that its mutated into something barely worthy of mentioning.
Listening to Jeremy Vine just before Christmas, there was a doctor on there who suggested that for healthy people, swine flu might be like a slightly more fuzzy cold; might come and go depending on the strength of who has it. There was also the suggestion recently that common or garden influenza might have actually killed more people this year than swine flu. Makes all this talk of a pandemic and governments spending vast amounts of money on a vaccine that, has reportedly caused more problems in healthy people than ever expected; my mate Mark was ill for two weeks longer because of the side effects of Tamiflu; probably resulting in more lost man hours than he ever would have dreamed of losing.
I had the flu once. It was the real flu because I was fucked for two solid weeks, felt totally shit and most importantly I didn't complain once about being ill, because I was TOO ILL TO!
What fun the weather has been! Well, fun as in funny watching the country grind to a halt. When I was a kid, we got snow quite a lot more than we tend to now and yes 2010 has been a winter to remember for many reasons; but, for pity's sake, I never missed a day of school regardless how bad the weather was. I remember walking to school in a blizzard and loving every minute of it and, oddly enough I don't recall kids ending up in hospital from being hit by a snowball, slipping on the ice or any other problem that nowadays seems associated with half a centimetre of snow.
but, I also seem to remember that in the 1970s and 1980s, most paths were gritted; most roads that had a lot of traffic on them were gritted - not just the occasional bus route. Oddly enough a lot of the schools back then were really old and had pretty archaic boilers; but rarely did they pack up or cause a headmaster to have to send the kids out into the snowy wilderness.
We do live in a every increasing nanny state and while I find it absolutely abhorrent, I accept that thanks to the bloody Yanks, we also live in a world where we're beginning to live in fear of being sued for breathing. This is a digression, but along the same lines. Did anyone see the news report about Myleen Klass being cautioned by police for brandishing a knife at intruders in her garden? Are we living in a world now, where defending your own property becomes an offence? Governments passim have all tried to change laws to make it more difficult for people, or to criminalise the young or the poor; but equally, these laws can be interpreted in many ways and they can prove to be equally as beneficial to the perpetrators of crime as the victims.
We all remember that bloke in Norfolk who did 18 months for killing an intruder with a shotgun; we also know all the background of all involved. Whether we agree or disagree with what happened, how long before a burglar comes onto your property, maybe through a hole in the fence or by vaulting it; who, on the way to breaking into your house and stealing your possessions, slips on uncleared snow on your patio and breaks his leg and then sues the arse off of you for health and safety breaches?
I asked a police officer friend about the Klass case and he said that if I am seem brandishing a knife in my own house it is an offence. But, equally, the wife spent a good £50 a few years ago buying me a Myco knife from Switzerland. It is a beautifully hand-crafted bit of workmanship, has a blade, a brush, tweezers and various other useful additions to make a mushroom hunters' life easier. If I was caught in possession of that knife - even if its in my car, in the glove compartment, unless I can prove what its used for and then return straight home, I can be prosecuted for carrying a deadly weapon! I can, however, carry a baseball bat in my car and as long as I don't use it in front of a policeman on the head of some youth, it isn't illegal to carry - I should have asked if that included baseball bats with nails sticking out of them!
I witnessed two of my oldest friends pass the 50 year milestone just before Christmas and it made me think that I've only got 27 months to go before I to join that exclusive, yet once upon a time barely considered, club. Fifty. 50. 5-0. Still scares the bejesus out of me; despite my physical ailments, my mind is still that of a younger man (although I'm no longer sure how much younger) and the thought of life slipping by without some excitement in it is also quite frightening. I've set myself a couple of goals for the coming 3 years already; I'm going to go to either India or New Zealand in September 2011 and at some point, I'm going to have another go at stopping smoking; except this time I'm going to have a several pronged attack - but, god dammit, I like smoking; I've given up virtually everything else that's bad for me and if I don't smoke I'm going to need to channel all that extra motivation and energy into something constructive. I just need to, otherwise I'm going to be looking back at life from my iron lung, thinking this is no way to spend my 60s...
One of those other projects might just be to stand for local councillor in the next local elections. Anyone that's known me for a long time knows I've got a very healthy interest in politics and over the last few years it's become more focused on local politics - mainly because I really can't see what my current crop of county councillors actually do.
Everyone pays council tax but how often do you actually see something being done with that money? The only frontline services most council tax payers see is refuse collection, and as we all know that has been subject to much scrutiny in recent years and the general feeling amongst householders, whether they agree with the moves or not, is that refuse collection has become a thorny issue. Another thing council tax payers' see is the state of our non-motorway roads and the fact that many places have potholes from last winter's freeze; effectively you get a much smoother ride when the roads are covered in snow and if you drive carefully are infinitely less likely to do any serious damage to your car. We live in a nanny state, how long before some rich bod decides to take a council to court over their failure to upkeep the roads as laid out in the breakdown of council tax income? We all might get a bit pissed off with some minor repair on the car or bike; but at some point some arsey Richard Branson type is going to say, 'bollocks to this' and then we're really going to see councils struggle.
Obviously, there are a number of things that might make me a less than salubrious candidate; I swear a lot, have a history of inhaling and I probably have a few dozen skeletons in my closet; but frankly, I really don't think the people of a constituency give a flying fart as long as the person elected tries to do something positive for as many people rather than something piffling for the few.
Obviously, if I did stand, it would be as an Independent, because I no longer have any affiliation to one party and for the foreseeable future I'm unlikely to change that stance.
That doesn't mean I will though!