It creeps up on you. Every day you feel its presence a little nearer, just lurking in shadows, ready to jump on you. When you turn round to face it is gone however, back into that creepy space between the cobwebs and cupboard, just behind the Isle of Lost Duplo’s and the Forest of Baby Socks Mysteriously Vanished.
But you know it is there. You hear its eerie whispers in the dark, its soft chuckles, the gnashing of its teeth. Every time you allow yourself to relax you can hear its sniggers, its soft voice humming a murderous tune. You are constantly on edge, ready to battle it whenever it chooses to show its ugly head.
But it is not this constant watchfulness which drains you slowly but steadily. It is knowing that no matter what you do, who you pray to, whichever voodoo-magic you shake out of your top hat, you are to all effects completely and utterly powerless. It is out there to get you and it will get you and all those you love and drag you down into the very pits of hell.
And then it launches its attack.
Like a fully trained Ninja it starts stalking you and your family. Its first prey is the weakest link of the family. It is nature’s law after all.
It starts small enough, just an itch in the throat. You do not worry about it. You try to reassure yourself by pretending it is just be a stray breadcrumb. That the ears hurt because the music was too loud, that the sniffling is just caused by allergies. Because in these climate-changing times it makes total sense for pollen season to be early!
You wake up at night when you hear it creeping up the stairs, inching closer to its goal with all the patience of an African lion stalking an unsuspecting gazelle. It betrays its presence with the little coughs that float towards your bedchamber like some macabre version of ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’.
You and yours are doomed and you know it. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Oh, you try. You try to fight it, to exorcise it with lemon-holy-water and honey-potions. At first it will appear that you have been victorious, the coughs go away and so does the throat-ache. You will breathe easily once more, lulled into safety.
But you are wrong.
For then it strikes again. More vicious than you could possibly imagine.
When you realize what is happening it is too late. The seed of evil have been sown and they are growing like a couple of nuclear –energy enhanced beanstalks.
First to fall is the eldest. She comes home one fine day coughing like a warthog with a two-pack-a-day-habit. Her eyes red, her nose running, temperature rising.
You help her, for that is your job as a mother. But while you are tending to your child’s soup and tea needs the evil gets his ugly, slimy hands on you and before you know it you are done for.
Next thing you know it is your throat that is hurting, you nose which is running and it’s your eyes which are red.
Tea becomes your new best friend and honey your constant companion. You hope that they will be able to dispel that most unwelcome of guests : the Common Cold.
Welcome to Cold Season, my friends! Free tissues every half hour.