At about the age of eighteen I had what they call Quinsy. No, not the coroner on that 80’s programme. This is an illness that makes tonsillitis seem like a slight sore throat. Tonsils morph into great sacks of puss that close off the wind pipe and stop the jaw from opening; it was rough.
Two weeks of not eating and not being able to speak; a blessing for some and as the Mrs says, nothing like a good illness to get you lean. The family had just moved from Wales to York and at the time I recall my mother going to Wales to look after her mother who passed away in the same month. My dad wasn’t exactly miss nightingale and was and still is a workaholic, thus I pretty much had two weeks in the darkness.
When the main barrage of septic tonsils had finished I had gone from having some reserves to ultra scrawny and had to wait another several days to eat properly due to my mouth being clamped shut. It’s a lovely condition where your tongue swells and even when you feel better you still talk like John Merrick from the Elephant Man. The real part of this retrospective visit regards the day I had to go to the doctors. I got up, was fairly okay, but I had a rash on my knacker sack from not bathing for days at a time; nice. With an Itchy scrotum, gaunt and an inability to speak I was on my way when the phone rang. What do we do in that instance? I answered the phone.
It turned out to be my manager from a part time job.
‘Is that you Craig?’
‘mmm mu mooo mu mu’
I forgot I couldn’t speak.
‘Err, are you coming back to work?’
‘Mmoo mmu mmmm mooo mer mu’
I had to put the phone down having made a complete tit of my self.
It isn’t until your driving half way down the road and a bit after you leave the house sometimes that you realise that your still quite ill. At the time I had an old Fiat Panda because I was into really fast cars and image was everything.
I lived right out in the country at the time where any trip required driving around narrow country lanes. Around a month before I got ill, a pheasant leapt out from the side hedge of one of these lanes and knocked my driver side wing mirror clean off. Bloody thing cost me £90 for a new one. In fact the same stretch of road costs money on a regular basis. My sister crashed a courtesy car in the very same place and caught a lift off my dad as it was written off. The fact that she ended up in the local news paper the next day for leaving the scene of an accident was neither here nor there. My dad hit a deer on that road and nearly wrote off a car. On new years day morning 1997 I avoided a pheasant and lost control and span 360 degrees. I hit someone’s fence, went further into the garden and churned up their grass something lovely. The irony was that it was the only house for miles around and the odds were well against hitting anything at all. Bloody pheasants!
But do you know what. A farmer came with his tractor that very minute and tied a rope to my car and pulled me back on the road. ‘Should we tell the people whose garden I wrecked’ I ask the farmer. ‘No, I hate them bastards who live there’ he said like farmers do.
Back to the main story and heading up this road and feeling pretty ill, I could see a pheasant just stood at the side of the road waiting. I could see what he was waiting for and I slowed down being fully aware that the thing was on a mission.
Unfortunately and the reason so many things get hit and die on this road is that everyone wants to do warp speed no matter the condition of the roads which are often foggy. I’m doing a hundred miles per hour and I can’t see a thing woo hoo. We all copy and paste our driving habits. If we see the car in front is doing a hundred and forty then follow suit; well I used to, but I’m older now see and can’t get above 75 without freaking out; a real top gun pilot.
A car comes the other way. The pheasant starts to dance around as its tiny noggin doesn’t realise that it can just escape through the hedge. I’m doing about 40 mph now and wondering what’s going to happen. The other car is hitting light speed. The pheasant sees it coming and leaps toward the middle of the road. The car knocks it and increases the dumb birds velocity. Bam. It hits my wing mirror and knocks it clean off.
At this point I did what any normal person would do and stopped the car, got out and checked the damage. What happened next was not what a normal person would do. The damage to the car done and feeling of being annoyed as well as ill, I turned to see the bird flapping around on the side of the road. What do I do? I felt sorry for the thing, angry at the thing and at the same time I felt like I might die with inflamed itchy balls to boot.
The bird is now writhing and it reminds me of the time my mother ran over a cat, wondered what had happened and decided to go back, then by doing so reversed back over it. I remember the cat being in the same condition except that it jolted around and fell down a large hill off the side of the road which needed some determination and climbing gear to follow. I think we all shrugged and got back in the car at that point.
I can’t say what possessed me to do what I did next. My foot lifted and then came down. Before I knew it I was stomping on the pheasant over and over as though possessed. The blood pressure in my head must have increased by now so that my recently septic tonsils burst, releasing bags of yellow puss into my mouth. Blood on the floor and puss dribbling from my only slightly open mouth I see a car slow down and pass me, driver seemingly alarmed as he watches a dribbling mad man kick a pheasant to death. Mmm ummuum I shouted after him. ‘What are you looking at’ was the rough translation. All I could think about was the fact that puss tasted like marmite and I like marmite; not so bad then. For those who don’t know marmite, it’s a yeast extract like vegemite or..I don’t know, puss.
I leave the now very dead bird that was at least out of its misery, where on the other hand I’ve gone way past my out doors limit for illness. I get to the doctor now tired and aching. He isn’t interested in my Quinsy as he booked me in to have my tonsils out a while ago.
‘How are you today? Decent journey?’
‘Fantastic’!!! I think.
‘Mummu er gong err urr… Translated into ‘My tonsils burst’
‘Excellent. I hope you didn’t swallow’
‘So what if I did. What’s it got to do with you aarrgh, cough’
I can’t speak still by the way. I just grunt and realise that I’m about to drop my trousers and haven’t showered in days. What happened. I was a trendy teen always training, running, swimming, cycling and showering like twice three times a day. Now I stand there all grotty with greasy hair, stinking with great big red balls of putridness and not to mention my puss soaked chin and fleece.
The doctor isn’t bothered. He knows the score. ‘You could be dead you know with that Quincy. I had a friend who had to have his jaw broken and pulled back because he couldn’t breathe. Never spoke the same since’
Yes, I’m feeling lucky now! I think as he prods my nuts with a metal poker thing. ‘You need some cream I think because you have a rash’
Really, I think to myself. I thought I had leprosy mixed with rabies.
But that was that and I had my tonsils out a few months later. I had to go to the hospital for the biopsy. It turns out my tonsils were full of coal dust and seeds. Well I grew up in Wales so what do you expect, a pheasant…