Friday, March 17, 2006

The English Disease

It's been a cold and miserable start to the year. A severe strain of flu made the rounds in England and for those who caught it bird flu sounded like some distant fantasy. This epidemic had people sign off sick for at least a week or two, and some of the more vulnerable, like children, had to be hospitalised. Hardly recovered from this onslaught of misery, a gastric flu hit the British population, and the many already dreaming of emigrating to Spain to spend their pension there wished they had already gone. England was definitely not the place to be.

However, there is no such thing as an English flu. Clever masters of manipulation, the English have made sure that anything bad is blamed on foreigners. There is the Russian flu, the Hong Kong flu, the Asian flu, the Shanghai flu, the Taiwan flu, but the Yorkshire flu or the Devon flu are nowhere to be seen. The only people blaming an illness on the English are the Germans, they call Rickets, caused by a lack of sunlight, the English Disease. The term has also been used by some for BSE, since it was first found in British beef, but generally, as far as the English are concerned, disease is a foreign invention.

This reminds me of a flight back into London from Khartoum many years ago, where all the passengers were subjected to being sprayed with some kind of insecticide upon arrival at Heathrow. The message was clear: Africa harbours disease whereas Europe is healthy. Passengers who would fly from Khartoum to London via Frankfurt would not have to undergo the ordeal, although they had not got off the plane and nobody sprayed the plane in Frankfurt. But Frankfurt is part of civilisation, so you couldn't do this to people who had got on board there. Maybe the viruses and bacilli obtained temporary visas on their short stay in Germany.

Of course, travelling has become a lot easier not only for people, but also for diseases. They get around pretty fast. But there is no doubt in my mind that they have a particular fondness for the British Isles where they tend to linger for quite some time.


At 19 March 2006 at 14:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pot, ketel, zwart!


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