Sunday, 11 October 2009

Flu and laughter

This week we have flu. More to the point Lois has flu and I’m sitting here hoping I don’t. I had my flu vaccine shot on Saturday, but of course that is for last year’ flu, not the new one.

Lois and I spent the last week teaching, fifty students all week in a room that wasn’t ventilated very well. The university has some sort of system where all the ventilation is controlled from some central point, which of course takes a couple of days to track down. Even when we talked to the guy, nothing seemed to change much. Has anyone in the control centre ever sat though a whole morning of teaching in a stuffy room I wonder? Not very likely, I guess. I suppose it might be possible to have some sort of device that measures how often the air changes but one way or another I think Lois must have got the flu from someone in that room.

Lois tried out the online system run by the department of health so you can diagnose swine flu yourself. If the computer thinks you have swine flu then it gives you an ID number, and then you send someone else to collect the Tamiflu. So even if she doesn’t have swine flu, she at least has computer flu. Which ever it is, it comes with a cough and fever and feeling rotten.

This computer system is sensible of course; if all the people with the flu turned up to collect the supplies then it would certainly put the staff at greater risk. On top of that anyone with a wrong diagnosis who came to collect the supplies would probably get the flu anyway from the other people who were collecting. Making the diagnosis by wire and sending a friend must reduce spread to some extent. As it was when I collected the stuff for Lois I was the only one there.

Fortunately the new Terry Pratchett novel came out this week so a week sitting at home is less of a pain. For many years now I’ve been buying Pratchett’s as soon as them come out, plus going to book signings as well.

This one, Unseen Academicals, is as good as all the rest. Several new characters appear as well as a few familiar ones. This book is about football, sort of. A particular disc world kind of football, but I’m sure it draws on a lot of the history of the game in real life too.

Like all Terry Pratchett novels it draws on a deep understanding of humanity, but what he does is to make the messages a little lighter by giving some of the characteristics to dwarfs and trolls, or other sundry life forms. How we relate to strangers and how we cope with our deepest fears, is there in all his books, but it’s not heavy. Pratchett is very funny too; this new one is a tough book to read on a bus, because you are almost bound to laugh out loud at some point - actually at a lot of points.

I’m probably a little weird at the moment, not exactly feverish but something is operating a bit differently, either fighting off Lois’s virus (old people, like me, are supposed to have some immunity to it) or maybe just dealing with having the vaccine. Stuff like that makes me more emotional, when I’m sufficiently ill that all I can do is read in bed I find books make me cry a lot. Even the ones I laugh at a lot make me cry as well. I know I’m not really ill this time because Unseen Academicals just made me laugh and laugh.

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