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Well blow me!

By Elisabeth Lopez - posted Friday, 12 September 2008

I hate Melbourne in late winter. I know never to book a season ticket for the Melbourne Film Festival, because I’ll have come down with a bad cold that leaves my immune system in tatters for a couple of months. I can set my watch, and plant my veggie garden, by it.

If there were a Tuberculosis Idol, I’d have a hot chance of winning. I would cough all over Dicko (a fetish only starting to appear in the psychiatric literature). Then I would launch into a croaky rendition of “Ken Lee”. Please Google “Bulgarian Idol” if you haven’t come across that one.

It’s a time of year when I have more viruses than friends. They may all come under the rubric of the common cold, but these microbes are like people in all their infinite variety.


I’ve just had the Mohammed Haneef. That’s the one where you sweat it out indefinitely. I don’t even know if I’m done yet.

It started as the Costello. I had a slight ticker in my throat, but wasn’t sure if it was real.

A few days later, when it was finally unmasked, I was shocked to find I had in fact been harbouring a whopping Karadzic. I couldn’t believe it. It had seemed so mild to start with.

Last winter, I was spluttering, coughing and sniffing very loudly, to the point where complete strangers would tell me to shut up already. Everything tasted like cardboard. With a sinking feeling, I realised I had come down with the Sam Newman.

Once I started going back to work on overcrowded trains, it had mutated into the Brendan Nelson, with a concomitant approval rating from my fellow passengers. I think the 9 per cent of dissenters who didn’t want to kill me just felt sorry for me.

One evening I found myself in the same carriage as someone else with a cold. I was fascinated. I stepped off the train when he did, trotted down cobbled laneways, dodging splashes from cars careening through gutterside puddles, and found myself outside a gentlemen’s establishment. The bouncer told me money had changed hands so this guy could have some Vicks rubbed on his chest. Well blow me! I thanked him, and apologised for my Ruddy nose.


I was no sooner over that one than I got the Bishop Fisher - not much throat or nasal discomfort; just a vague crankiness which I tried to ignore as I went about my business.

This turned into the Garnaut. I blame all those years as a smoker. I’m paying for it now. I’m working on getting my emissions down to 1990 levels. There’s still some hope, I’m told.

Or maybe I’m being over-optimistic. Maybe I really have the Murray-Darling, and my whole system is beyond repair. Forever.

So as winter plods on, I’m not taking any chances. I don’t want to catch the sort of cold I’m really dreading. I have to be 100 per cent sure I’m over the Haneef, as it’s a cold so notorious the only known cure is exile to Queensland.

I believe it’s called the Wayne Carey.

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About the Author

Elisabeth Lopez is a Melbourne journalist.

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