Tag Archives: humour

Cheer Yourself Up With The Plague

In these days of Brexit and Trump, I have decided that it is my duty to hand out stirring advice. In fact, I’ve nominated myself as the cheerer upper of the people. It’s a role that I relish and in these coming days, I hope to erase your feelings of discontent once and for all. So without any further waffle let’s get stuck into cheering ourselves up.


However bad you may feel, be glad that you were not alive in Tudor England when there were three main illnesses which could easily kill you. In those days, influenza was a serious killer. In fact, it travelled through the army so quickly that the generals had to call off an attempt to recapture Calais in 1557 – 1558. No flu vaccinations there then.

Carried on a flea

Another option was the plague and to be fair, with the plague there was a choice: Bubonic or pneumonic. This was caused by a type of bacteria which was carried on a flea on a rat. There was no cure for it during the Tudor reign and outbreaks occurred from time to time. In 1603, 38,000 people died in London and the plague doctors were little more than useless. Henry VIII had the best way of dealing with the plague – he got out of London as quickly as he could. It also broke out again in 1665.


If the plague or the flu didn’t get you, you still couldn’t relax because the sweating sickness might not be far behind. This broke out in England in 1485, 1517 and 1551. Talk about living for the moment, you really needed to when this illness was about. You could be singing a ditty, having a tumble in the hay and knocking back the mead at lunchtime but be dead before you got your supper; that was how quickly it struck folks down. Although saying that, it did not always kill. It is now believed that it was a type of flu and was named Sudor Anglicus because for some strange reason only the English caught it.


If you did get ill, you had a choice of who to turn to. You could go to the apothecary who handled drugs and herbs. Much of what they handed out was experimental so it was a bit of a risk seeing them. However, if you visited a barber-surgeon you would get an amputation. Perhaps, a physician might be a better choice because they would just stick leeches on you to suck your blood.

Well, that concludes my cheering up session for today. I hope it stirred you.



Filed under About Loony Literature, Being Buoyant, The Cheerer Upper, The Peculiar Past

I Know I am English When The Sun Stops Me From Writing.

I know I’m English when the sunshine stops me from writing.

Actually, I will go further than that, I am originally from Manchester and grew up suffering from good weather poverty.  It didn’t seem that bad to me at the time until I started travelling with my job. When I told people where I was from, they replied with either – Ah Manchester United or Oh, it always rains there.  It did occur to me when I spent a lot of time in the South of England that they had a much better weather deal.  I won’t even mention travelling into France, Italy and Spain – their weather starts a tick off in my face.  When I read of fellow bloggers from California mentioning their weather, a strange noise emerges from my throat not unlike that of a strangled cockerel.

Okay, so you are now in the position to understand that when the sunshine comes out I do a little skip and want to rush outside in a rather undignified manner.  Toddlers queuing up for a turn on a slide show more decorum that I do but I don’t really want to go into that at the moment.  What I do want to address is why I don’t take my laptop outside and work there.  I know that anyone reading this must be thinking – I really don’t see your problem – just work outside.


The problem is that I live in a rural English village which is full of menaces.  Think Miss Marple mixed with Midsomer Murders and you are nearly there.  The first menaces are the bell ringers.  There is nothing more glorious than the sound of church bells, particularly if the church is both historic and beautiful.  The church at the side of me is both.  However, I am positive that there is a gaggle of bell ringers (I don’t know the term for bell ringers on mass – but this sounds apt) spying on me.  I think they hide up the trees and make strange bird noises to each other.  The message being  – “Ha ha, she thinks she can write in the garden.”   It is amazing how having church bells ringing next to me stops me from writing and make my eyes bulge.  In fact, it prevents me from doing anything. If any bell ringers read this, I adore you except when I’m trying to write in the garden!

If the bell ringers are not out to get me, then the wild life is.  My garden backs onto the garden of Geronimo the cockerel and his harem.  Geronimo is huge and has vocal chords to prove it.  I think that the worst part of him  is that he is sly, unbelievably sly for a bird.  (It has just occurred to me that maybe he isn’t a bird and is an alien from another planet.  I wouldn’t be surprised.)  He is sly because he lulls me into a false sense of being able to write.  I will sit and listen, nothing – all is calm – all is perfect.  I am feeling serene as I lift my cup of coffee and stare at the screen.  Like the bird assassin that he is – his strangulated shriek makes me shudder and spill the coffee.  All is silent – it’s as if he knows he has hit his target.

Last spring was glorious.  We had warm weather and the pink blossoms on the trees were truly beautiful.  It was all so perfect, that like a fool I thought I would work in the garden.  I had the laptop on the table and as it was early morning a bowl of Weetabix and prunes in my hand.  My cup of coffee was sitting next to the laptop and I believed that all was a haven of calm.  I do not know why I ever think that because it is almost as if some meddling Puck from Midsummer’s Dream is messing with my thoughts.  The churchyard has lots of squirrels which the local cats are fascinated by.  The squirrels are always in and out of my garden.  My spoon was just reaching my mouth when I heard a kerfuffle and a loud rustling noise.  I looked above my head to see a squirrel being hotly pursued by Mildred, The Laboratory cat.  As I looked up, I thought it had started snowing. My bowl of Weetabix became covered in pink petals off the blossom tree.  I sighed and reached for my coffee, only to see it in the same state of disarray.  The rumpus between puss and squirrel had obviously caused the shower.

So there you have it, I have given up trying to write in the sunshine.  It is too risky.  The only problem is that when the sun comes out,  I don’t know how long it will last and so I sometimes drop everything and join the menaces outside.


Filed under Creative Writing