Summer’s gone, and it’s that of year again.
Before you roll your eyes this isn’t yet another article about the perils of cycling in bad weather. This is about what happens after you cycle in bad weather, particularly if you have to fit this in with long days at work, sleep interrupted by young children, and slightly too much wine at the weekend.
I’m talking about the annual struggle of the cyclist’s immune system.
Some cyclists seem, well…immune to this.
They are out in all weather, commuting all week and at the weekend for pleasure, and apparently suffer no ill effects from the cold moist air that whistles through their clothing, into their lungs, and persists until around February.
For others, it’s a season long knife edge balancing act where every sniffle and cough is analysed for signs of the tedious virus it might be flagging up. It’s tiresome.
Luckily my youngest lad – two years old – is on the case.
He’s soaking up new words like a sponge and adding to his vocabulary by the minute, and as a proud parent I find myself regaling friends and family with stories of my precocious offspring and his ability to conjugate verbs and correct me on my use of double negatives.
In amongst the verbal victories you always get a few misfires.
Suffering with my first cycling related sniffle of the season the boy was clearly concerned and came running to me, in a hurry to share some momentous information.
“Daddy”, he said, “you need lemon soup to make you better.”
“Lemon soup?” I thought, “sounds a bit alternative, but might be worth a try.”
“It’s what mummy takes” he confirms, nodding with certainty.
As it happens we were out of lemons, so despite the certainty of his diagnosis the medicinal powers of lemon soup were soon a distant memory.
A few days later I was still in the grip of a mild but persistent bike-related chestiness, and the boy and I were at the supermarket doing the weekly shop.
By now he’s gone beyond mere words and moved onto brand names, a worrying early sign of the power of advertising. And so, as we happily pushed the trolley around he was scanning the shelves and shouting out the name of everything he recognised.
“Tomato Ketchup”, he says.
“Yes, Ketchup”, I reply.
“Chocolate Buttons…can we get Chocolate Buttons?”
“Not today son”, I reply
And then we reach the medicine aisle.
“Lemon soup”, he points, “lemon soup!”
He points to a green and yellow box in amongst the cold remedies.
“Lemon soup!”, he says again, eyes wide.
And the penny drops. Lemsip. I fling a box into the trolley.
“Lemon soup?” he asks, looking up at me questioningly.
“Lemon soup”, I nod in agreement.
Worth a try, I suppose.