My friend considers it the height of rudeness when one is suffering from some winter bug or other and someone says ‘Oh, yes, I had that. I was in bed for days!’ They seem to be sympathising but, according to my pal, they are actually setting up a kind of rivalry as to who had it worse. And besides, the likelihood of it being the same bug is pretty slim.

However, I do believe that countless people have had ‘that’ cough. It’s hacking, dry and really does linger.  Three weeks in my case. And nothing, but nothing seems to cure it. If one other person says ‘honey and lemon’ to me I’ll go mad. I am convinced that the only thing that will rid me of it is a month in a hot country, preferably one with miles of powdery sand and an infinity pool to hand.

No chance of that though, now I’m going onto a four day week. Won’t even be able to afford the honey and lemon at this rate. Which made me start thinking it might be psychological. Maybe the thought of hard times to come has made me go all croaky? Perhaps instead of devouring every proprietary medicine known to man I should do some voice exercises. After all, they worked in The King’s Speech.

With that in mind I did a bit of low level humming while waiting for the bus.  Then I graduated on to what actors call sirens: rapidly repeated scales using your full range…much like a passing ambulance. Or a panicking cow sinking into a bog.

This did wonders for my vowels, so I moved on to consonants with some exaggeratedly staccato renditions of well known pre-show warm-ups like ‘Red lorry, yellow lorry’ and ‘She sells seashells.’

I was spitting out ‘She stood upon the balustraded balcony inexplicably mimicking him hiccupping and amicably welcoming him in’ when I noticed a lady sitting next to me in the bus shelter.

How long she had been there I don’t know. She looked very scared. I tried to make it sound as if I was just coughing, but wouldn’t you know it, for the first time in three weeks my cough mechanism failed me. Luckily at that moment the bus arrived and rescued us both!

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