They hadn’t even arrived when the dreaded Freshers’ Flu hit me in a whirlwind of coughs, splutters, sneezes and headaches. It’s as if the mere thought of 3,000-odd happy, virile and spritely outsiders invading my extended personal space and reminding me of my age was enough to send my immune system into hyperdrive.
“I’ve had the flu shot, the American one,” I boasted to all that would listen, stupidly assuming that in the country where triple cheeseburgers and toddlers with automatic weapons kill more people than any disease ever could, a shot of dead flu virus paid for by the US Congress would make me invincible in the face of the cold-ridden hoardes.
Of course I’m paying for that hubris now, sniffling over my keyboard like the haggard old man I am; surrounded by used tissues I am a no-fly zone for healthy colleagues.
My housemate is similarly afflicted. However, bereft of the responsibility to sit in an office surrounded by ever-growing piles of death-tissue, the formerly perpetual hypochondriac now proudly shuffles around our virus-infested apartment in his favourite sweat pants and zip-up, displaying the scientifically provable affliction for all to see. Except nobody visits us, for obvious reasons. My other housemate arrived yesterday to find the two of us wallowing in our own grim on the sofa, and instantly regretted making the journey that will certainly lead her to a similar fate.
I had initially thought that his sheer desire to be ill – and therefore accrue some moaning points – had dragged me into this mucus-filled den of malady. Or perhaps it was the wholly unnecessary cognacs that we shared at his girlfriend’s 21st a few days previously. There, he had staggered to his feet, beaming with unadulterated joy to tell the room that his beau was “Great. Just great. I mean, I think we all know she’s great and amazing. We all came here tonight because we all think,” he pauses to cover his mouth to hiccup, “that she’s such a great girl…” As the other guests winced in communal embarrassment, did I sense the first little bacteria multiplications inside my throat as a punishment for telling him what a memorable speech him and his friend Rémy Martin would make to mark the occasion?
No, I’m sure this is Pre-Freshers’ Freshers’ Flu. It’s not been caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation or bodily fluid sharing – so I can’t even console myself with memories of a Strongbow-fuelled lad rampage involving the hot one from down the corridor, the upstairs room in Ziggy’s and an awkward morning moment as I swallow endless amounts of Panadol.
Instead, this is my body reacting to the onset of third-year – a feeling so intensely abhorrent that is made all the more repulsive by the fact that thousands of student-loan funded revellers covered in marker pen and lovebites remind you just how out of place you are hanging around the entrance to Vanbrugh cafeteria looking for a friendly face. “Why don’t you fuck off to the library with your bag of German texts and exam revision, granddad?” their bright eyes ask.
Cognac boy and I discuss whether we are well enough to accept the press passes to Freshers’ Ball tomorrow night over the phone. With exams looming and the psuedo-disease still rampaging through our bodies, we both know the answer – but the promise of asking Wiley if our choice of wristwear – haggard appearance aside – will affect our chances of scoring with the cream of the class of 2012 is ultimately too much to ignore.
This will ultimately be a mistake, I fear. Wiley – I’ve since learnt – only performed for 10 minutes at a recent gig before he passed out, while at his most recent appearance, sung his Rolex number before decided he’d had enough of being on stage. Chances are he’s going to turn down the opportunity to be grilled by the two most miserable men in York. Instead, we’ll skulk around, friendless, sipping our lemon and honey teas, avoiding large crowds of the more rowdy first years, and leave well before the annual pairing-off begins.
For those of you deluded enough by the garish publicity and outrageous ticket price to think that Wiley is a coup for little old YUSU, we had B*Witched at our Freshers’ Ball. They were rubbish, but I personally felt that making four 35-year-olds jump around in tight jeans to pay for their botox bills meant some of the £35 was well spent. But I digress.
To conclude, I fear that there is no simple cure to the terrible affliction that grips me, other than to resign myself to my miserable third-year experience. I must embrace dinner parties instead of chasing interests around Gallery; FTs from the Library at 9AM instead of walks of shame; and Saturday nights with X Factor instead of downing VKs at campus events in a toga.
I think I’m feeling better already.