Midlife Manual’s top five cold cures

According to the first thing that came up after we Googled ‘colds per year’, adults have 2-4 of them per year (by which, as this is an average after all, we assume they mean 3) and children 4-8 (ie 6, by the same reasoning). Which means by now you will have had in your lifetime, 18×6+3x…mumbles… let’s say 20 because it’s a nice round number, which is, um, er, lots.

So you’ll also have perfected your personal trusted cold cure, the one you absolutely swear by and are always eager to inflict on people too weak and virusey to protest.

Maybe you just customise your Lemsip. Maybe you pick your own herbs and brew a foul-smelling infusion. Maybe you just pour yourself a large whisky and go to bed.

Here are some tried and tested Midlife Manual cold cures. Let us know yours.

1) the ultimate lemon drink

ingredients: cloves, fresh ginger, cardamom pods, cinnamon (depending on personal preference), juice of one lemon, generous teaspoon of honey.

method: put spices in an infuser or teaball (it’s probably right at the back of the cutlery draw, that small metal house on a string that came with some novelty tea, or that wire ball you never knew what it was for, yes, that’s it, to the right, just by the training chopsticks, near that bottle opener you thought you’d lost and blamed your party guests for stealing). put ball in favourite mug. pour boiling water on spices. add honey. add lemon. wrap hands round mug as if in 1980s Nescafé add. drink.

This also works well, we’ve found, with a large glug of tequila.

2) The whisky mac

ingredients: a cheap blended whisky (if there’s none in the house because you regard it as on a par with instant coffee, then use the good stuff, but if your partner wonders where it went then blame the kids) and Stones ginger wine. Midlife Manual personal preference is 2:1 but its worth experimenting with proportions until you are happy. Or pissed.

Yeah yeah, we know alcohol is not a friend of the cold because it dehydrates you, and that’s the last thing you need when you’ve got a cold, blah blah blah… but frankly if you’ve already written off the possibility of achieving anything useful on account of having a cold, they why waste an opportunity?

3) fluffy hotwaterbottle from John Lewis, or similar

method: boil kettle. wait by boiled kettle until water reaches temperate of around 60deg C as instructed by waterbottle manufacturer. get bored. and annoyed that some namby pamby health & safety-obsessed waterbottle manufacturer thinks you can’t handle the heat. literally. pour in just-boiled water thinking. ‘Hah! take that John Lewis (or similar). I live dangerously and am prepared to take the consequences! Yeah!’

4) salsa, salt and vinegar crisps, Belvoir ginger cordial

This may sound like a dinner party prepared by a student, but these foods are some of the few foods powerful enough to actually taste through a cold.

Here’s the MM homeade salsa recipe: tomatoes (chopped), red onion (chopped), coriander (ch… you get the idea, we won’t patronise you), lime juice (because if you’ve got a cold you’ll want a break from all those bloody lemons), olive oil, and our favourite secret ingredient, Nomades harissa – the best harissa we’ve tasted and saves on chopping chilies which is a pain in the arse an, if you rub them, which you will after you’ve been chopping onions, eyes.

5) your ‘sick’ jumper

Aka, if you are a woman, your ‘period jumper’. This may have once been a normal jumper, probably a personal favourite, or it may be one your husband had put out for the charity shop, but it is almost certainly soft, cosy, baggy, motheaten, and way to unflattering to wear in public. But you’ve got a cold, so you don’t care.

5 b) Failing that, there’s always drugs.


About JCT

JCT was Deputy Editor of weekly London arts/listings magazine Time Out but left to freelance in 2007 – just before the recession. She writes for a number of publications and has edited 'London Calling: high culture and low life in the capital since 1968' (Time Out/Ebury 2008) and 'The World's Greatest Cities' (Time Out/Ebury 2009). She is the co-author of The Midlife Manual (Short Books, 2010).
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