There are some sentences that are nothing short of delightful to say. ‘Coffee and croissants’ are but three simple words that serve to evoke sublime thoughts, tastes, smells and sensations and awake an appetite at any time of the day. ‘The prickly hedgehog burst the fluffy bubble’ is positively delicious as it rolls round the mouth and lips in its wonderfully onomatopoeic way. ‘Mika has decided to give up his career as a musician and instead decided to join a free-diving team’ would be a tremendous sentence were it true, alas it is not. At least not yet. ‘I’ve never had food poisoning’ is also a vastly underappreciated little snippet of syntax and one, that until this weekend, I would have been able to say with absolute confidence in its truth. I suppose it is one of those sentences that would rarely surface as it is not a particularly common subject for polite conversation: “Did you see Celebrity Wife Swap last night? Aren’t house prices ridiculous round here? I’ve never had food poisoning, you know? Oh, did we mention that Mikey has been offered the role of Mr. Mistoffelees in the school production of Cats?” You see, it just doesn’t crop up in generic chitchat which is why it is heard so rarely. Anyway, had I been aware what a blessing it is never to have suffered from any sort of gastric ailment (aside from the inevitable dodgy belly whenever one is lucky enough to venture to climes any further afield than Dorset) I would have made a daily proclamation to this extent, exclaiming from the rooftops that as of this moment in time I have never been rendered a pathetic shivering wreck due to a rogue bit of seafood having its last gasp revenge at being wrenched from its cosy shell and devoured whole.
Actually, this isn’t entirely true. As a wet-behind-the-ears nine-year-old Cub Scout I once represented my pack in the District Hike which consisted of a number of tasks each marked out of ten by an Akela from a rival troop (therein lies the first problem – these slightly odd, beardy men are worryingly competitive). Once our team of four inexperienced pre-adolescents had worked out which way round to hold the map and argued about how a compass worked we finally managed to negotiate our way to the designated camp site where we had to gather kindling and firewood and transform it from a pile of damp sticks into a roaring inferno over which we were to cook our sausages. Being at least an hour behind each of the other teams meant that all available firewood had since been collected and turned to ash leaving only a collection of well-fed Cubs ready to attack the afternoon’s portion of the hike. We were not aided by a kindly senior, nor we were advised that just because sausages have turned a vaguely beige colour on the outside, it is not necessarily an indication that the inside is sufficiently hot as to be considered cooked or safe for consumption. The result was that not only did we come a resounding last place (with a massive total of 14/60, if memory serves correctly), all four of us were promptly sick when we finally made it back to the scout hut.
I genuinely do not know what the point of that little digression into my childhood was but I think it was a nice little anecdote. I think the point I was trying to make was that despite eating a virtually raw pork sausage, one little chunder was enough to purge my body of the offending article so I don’t believe that it was a sufficiently violent enough episode to be considered a full blown food poisoning. Which leads me neatly onto the assertion I made at the start of this rambling piece, id est, I’ve never before had food poisoning.
I am well aware that it is one of those ailments that gets bandied around in rather wanton fashion, much like ‘flu’ but I can confidently say that on Saturday I was safely hit for six by a vengeful, malevolent little prawn after eating at a well-known noodle bar in Manchester. The food was delicious which is why I am loathe to name the eatery but after an hour and precisely ¾ of a pint of lager the nausea hit hard. I was informed that I had turned a quite scary shade of grey and made swift movements to leave the pub as fast as was humanly possible. I’ll spare you the finer details but it was not, repeat not, pretty and had I auditioned for a part in the remake of The Exorcist at any point over the weekend I am positive I would have been given the part.