Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Despatches from El Alamein

Just a heavy cold but complicated, as always, by the after-effects of a childhood racked with chronic bronchitis now retro-diagnosed as asthma. Feverish dreams in which I’m compelled to complete a sodoku game (it’s no go; conscious or unconscious I don’t know the rules) followed by two months of coughing. I exacted some revenge months ago by writing a sonnet on that latter subject.

Colds are bad news because I know they can’t be cured. So, treat the symptoms. The temptation to use scotch must be eschewed since the symptoms persist, enhanced by a murderous headache. In my case the bronchi and – rather surprising – the diaphragm blaze with pain after every cough. Pain demands an analgesic, hence industrial-strength ibuprofen.

The result is a pyrrhic victory (“Any more wins like that and we’re done for.”) As the drug fights the nerve endings the battlefield is laid waste. But the battlefield is my body and what laughably passes for a mind. The fruited plain becomes nothing more than landfill. This is not the time to embark on a demanding new verse form or to entertain a fellow blogger with a comment that will read a week later as pure boiler-plate. The prescription is thus analgesic plus abstinence from creative activity.

And that includes thinking. No great loss since sooner rather than later thoughts will turn to the state of my lungs. Finding things to curse is one solution, self-induced torpor is another. I leave the TV switched off: good stuff turns enthusiasm into wheezing, bad stuff makes me angry with the same result. I may if I wish contemplate the case of Michael Jackson.


The Crow said...

Good to hear from you, BB.


Julia said...

Argh, take it easy over there. I hope listening to music helps the coughing, and of course any good Czech would prescribe boatloads of honey tea.

Question to ponder while in recovery (a potentially obvious question, but one I've been thinking about lately thanks to all the construction around our house) - did the car single handedly drive the widespread use of asphalt to smooth roads, or were there other factors at work there?

marja-leena said...

Oh, take care. Lots of hot sweet drinks like honey tea, black currant, or occasionally a hot toddy to ease the tickle in the throat that starts the cough. Music, light reading, nothing too strenuous on the brain cells...

Lucy said...

I'd heard tound and about you were poorly, so come bearing virtual chicken soup to leave on your doorstep. This is what you get for spending your childhood in the same neck of the woods as the Brontes.

Scotch may offer only false promises healing, but with the addition of Stones Ginger Wine its medicinal properties surely become authentic?

Re Julia's question about macadamised roads: in a truly fascinating book which I think you'd enjoy, 'The Discovery of France' by Graham Robb, there is much of interest about road building, the tarmac and its forebears included. Also, do you know the theory of why the French, and consequently the rest of Europe, drive on the right?

Get well soon, BB!

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: I'm glad you are able to.

Julia: I worry about the shrinking division between taking it easy and having one's toes cock up. Hence my vigorous application to your question which I do not intend to google.

And all of a sudden things get more complicated. In between dirt roads ("unsealed" in NZ) and asphalt there was the transitory phase involving cobbles, evidence of which is plain to see in Prague, you tell me. In Britain cobbles date back to Roman times though they fell into disuse during the Middle Ages. Cobbles have one major benefit (durability) and a hell of a lot of disadvantages (labour-intensive installation, dangerous gradients, noise, etc) Cobbles were not kind to horse-drawn vehicles, uphill or downhill, and tended either to destroy early powered vehicles or cause them to slide helplessly sideways during rain. Asphalt's advantages (easier to lay and repair, greater safety, noise reduction) made it a natural successor to cobbles for cars but didn't bring the same benefits to horse-carriages and led to even greater disadvantages when going uphill. So cars were the major influence towards asphalt and this influence quickly grew as cars replaced horses.

Interestingly the emphasis shifts when comparing urban and rural applications. The longer the road the more asphalt becomes a no-brainer. That's why roads surrounding much of the city I was brought up were more quickly asphalted than the roads in the city centre where cobbles persisted long after WW2. But just imagine those Romans with their cobbled Watling Street, 100 miles from London northish to Leicester, then westish to Shrewsbury. No Irish labourers then to do the work.

M-L: An interesting concept, light reading. I'd run a mile, when healthy, from any book carrying that label, Whether it sneaks up on me in my ill-health remains to be answered. Since much of my reading is done in the bath books heavy in avoirdupois are a no-no.

Lucy: I am (virtually) getting better on your virtual chicken soup. As to wasting my precious bodily fluids on Howarth Moor, I got the hell out as soon as I could and have sworn a great oath that I will only return to jeer (Historical point which only you among my commenters are likely to appreciate: I bought my Bond Minicar in Howarth). You are the second person to recommend that book; in my world that's a powerful consensus and I'll ABEBooks it now. Left and right: was it something about swords being worn on the left side by the Froggies while the Brits...? the answer is I don't

occasional speeder said...

Look forward to discussing your Michael Jackson thoughts - assume you - assume you mean this chap.
Always found him to be utterly charming.
Get well soon x

Rouchswalwe said...

Eucalyptus .. a sprig of Eucalyptus on your bedstand. Does wonders! And your dreams may transport you to Ancient Egypt ... they brewed beer there, you know. With the right herbs, couldn't that be a tonic for a cold? No. Maybe not.
Gute Besserung, BB!
P.S. "no go" made me howl with laughter ...

Julia said...

Interesting! I didn't know about the slipperiness issue with cobblestones and cars but it totally makes sense.

More fun calculations to work the brain a bit: Consider that every single stone in a wide Prague sidewalk is hammered into place by a day laborer. A team of three covers one block (.1km) in a good weather day. Grow the team to ten and, even with weekends off and a 30% addition in time due to weather, slackness, etc, that team could tap into place 100 miles of stone about the width of a car in just a bit under 3 years. True or false?

(Just laying the stone though, the grading and smoothing of a Roman road would take longer than today's road smoothing processes).

And now for some tea and to check out Lucy's book too!

Spadoman said...

Get well soon.

Plutarch said...

I thought that I had posted a sympathetic and possibly useful comment yesterday but it seems to have got lost on the way. I too used to suffer from asthma as a child and now, following a cold, invariably from coughs. My cure nearly always is found in a medicine called Pulmo Bailey, obtainable from most chemists. It is taken with water before meals. It is foul tasting, coal tar, I think. But it invariably works for me. If you haven 't, try it. Get better soon.

Barrett Bonden said...

OS: I think MJ never had a sip of real ale in his life. Why should I contemplate MJ? Well, he's mutilated and dead and however bad my cold is it isn't that bad.

RM (zS): We have a eucalyptus tree in the garden, planted by me eleven years and so fecund it had to be recently pruned. However, I'm baffled by "bedstand". I'd prefer to be transmigrated to somewhere other than Ancient Egypt (Regency England, for instance; I like the risqué trousers) because so many had names as difficult to pronounce as Rouchswalwe.

Julia: You're definitely keeping me alive; a future WW could well have a sub-section devoted entirely to transportation.

I'm sure your figures are plausible but you've put your finger on the bit that matters. Preparation of the site takes far longer (and requires more skills) than laying the cubes as we found out when we had our front garden bricked over at Rothschildian expense. These days the dressing of the stone is no doubt done mechanically; in Roman times it would have been done by hand, adding significantly to the enormity of the task.

Not only are you keeping me alive but you're prodding my moribund memory banks. Delaying the awful moment when I had to leave my bed this morning I suddenly remembered that Bradford streets were not only cobbled with stone but in some cases with wooden blocks about the same size. A host of new questions arises from that. I may turn that one into a speculative post (ie, one where the blogger in effect gets others to write the blog).

PS: A version of "The discovery of France" was available from Abebooks at £0.61 and has been ordered.

Spad: Preciate the thought.

Plutarch: I am a great enthusiast for foul-tasting medicine. The first person I ever heard expatiate on the benefits of Pulmo Bailey had the initials BW. Is that where your first heard of it?

Rouchswalwe said...

Ach, zat iss ver I give avay zat Englisch iss my sekund langvich.
Ein Nachttisch (not Nachtisch), or night table. On second thought, maybe "bedstand" is 'merican English. Have I been here too long?

herhimnbryn said...

GWS BB. Keep up your fluid intake.

Lucy said...

'tis said that in Napoleon's time cannons had a step on the left at the back. By driving them on the left hand side, and positioning a gunner up on this step, siad gunner could shout out when the gun was in danger of veering into the ditch by the side of the road, and avoid that calamity. By this means,it is said, Napoleon was able to get 30% more cannon safely to the battlefield.

Didn't do'im much good in the end though did it? Perhaps on account that the Russian ditches were all full up with snow and therefore invisible. Ha ha ha.

Professional Bleeder said...

May I suggest codeine (and not in particularly low doses. It is an antitussive (I like this word - and love the fact that my dictionary does not recognise it!) It works. Don't drive. If you could you could read about how it work on Wikipedia - hope you are better soon