Friday, April 29, 2016

No more EU for now (except, of course, to mention ‘no more EU for now’), but the eternal, infrenal itching now has a name - great! - and I plan my next invasion of Europe. Sorry, wan’t going to mention Europe, was I?

I have to say that for some odd reason I have held off posting here for several weeks because my main urge was simply to repeat how insufferable the whole should we/shouldn’t we stick it up the EU/cement the sacred relationship we have with our European cousins? campaign has been. But as I would merely be repeating what I said in an earlier post - a plague on both their houses - it seemed rather pointless.

Were I to do such a post, there would be much to report, for example the fury of the Fuck The EU camp when President Obama warned the U.S. would stop sending tourists to London if Britain left the EU, which naturally roused the Brexiteers to fury even had one Boris Johnson - not my favourite person and something of a nine-bob note - rather gracelessly refer to Obama as ‘half-Kenyan’.

Then there’s the strange alliance of God and Satan who have temporarily come to a truce and jointly come out to warn that if Britain does not vote to remain in the EU, that’s it - Armageddon (to which both, of course, though for their different reasons, are looking forward with some pleasure. (So why aren’t they supporting Brexit? You didn’t think that one throught, did you, Patrick? Ed.) So, for the time being, no more EU in these hallowed pages.

. . .

Well, the itching which has been the bane of my life since last October has got a name: hives, or if you want to use the posh medial term uritcaria. And if you want to use another posh medical term and make as though you know what you are talking about, call it idiopathic urticaria.

We already know what uritcaria means. Idiopathic means - well, in a sense it doesn’t mean anything because doctors use it when they don’t know what is causing a disorder, illness, rash or, in my case, itch. After visiting my GP and being referred to a dermatologist, I have now been prescribed an anti-histamine. I was already taking one, but the new one, fexofenadine hydrochloride, was prescribed by the dermatologist and she said it ‘was better’. Well, better or worse, from folk who adopt posh-sounding pseudo-Latin words such as ‘idiopathic’ to hide the fact they don’t know what’s actually going on, I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.

As you can imagine, I have been scouring the internet for info and can tell you this: for most folk hives come and go in a few hours or a day. For some poor unfortunate schmucks such as me, the
are chronic (where chronic doesn’t mean ‘really bad’ as most people think, but ‘ongoing/long-lasting’). I have to say it isn’t half as bad as it was from last October to the end of February when a perfectly good and respectable weekend in Rome was ruined and consisted mainly of spending the very boring day at Fiumicino airport itching like fuck, waiting for a 10pm flight to Gatwick and wanting to be nowhere else but home. Maybe that’s the antihistamines.

I have also taken to eating a bowl of three chopped up satsumas and half a tub of Greek youghurt for breakfast, and although it hasn’t cured the itching, it has done wonders for the rough, red, dry skin I had on my arms and perhaps on my back, though I could never get around there to take a look. (NB Picture posed by model and for illustration purposes only. I’m a bit older than that.)

The odd thing is that for the past 50 years I thought I didn’t like yoghurt (and I’m talking about the natural, unblemished stuff, not the heavily sweetened and flavoured stuff which has enough e-numbers to form a Yorkshire chorus). Then I tried it and decided I do actually like it. Admittedly, it has an acquired taste, but it is a taste I have since acquired. I must be honest and add that I do sprinkle just a little sugar over it all, but I’m sure - we’re all liberal free-thinkers now, aren’t we? - you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me. The odd thing is that given that the worst seems to be over - fingers crossed - and I am now reduced to slight tickling and itching all over my arms, scalp and torso, I realise I have been suffering from mild hives for some years, because I have long felt like this, though I didn’t think much of it.

. . .

My next holiday is booked: ten days in some ski resort in Austria which has a spa. It’s called Bad Gastein. I can’t for the life of me remember how I hit upon the place except that it had something to do with looking up possible quite spots in the Appennines for a break and then somehow travelling just a little further north on the map.

Then, using Expedia, and having settled on Bad Gastein, I hunted down some three/four start hotels and a flight and found Pension St Leonhard which isn’t exactly a hotel in that they only do breakfast (which, of course, many other hotels only do, too) and the front desk shuts at 6pm (understandable as it is ‘family-run’. It remains to be seen whether that is an Austrian Addams family - after all, they do have form).

After my experience of wasting a perfectly good weekend because of the bloody itching which ruined that trip to Rome, I had held of booking a proper holiday, as I dind’t want to spend several hundred pounds to fly somewhere far away, then spend ten days holed up in a hotel room, scratching and feeling very sorry for myself. But once the antihistamines began doing their bit and I was once again sleeping through the night (although two nights ago was something of an ordeal) and when I discovered that at work available weeks to be taken off were rapidly diminishing, I there and then got on my computer and booked. And it’s great to have something to look forward to.

As usual I am making no plans. I shall be taking with me two or three books (of which one is Francis Wheen’s biography of Karl Marx if I can find it again) and enought underwear to keep me respectable and that is it: as far as I am concerned the whole point of holiday is to have no duties,
no plans, no schedule, no obligations, just time off to do what the bloody hell you like, and if that means sitting in an Alpine field surrounded by cows with bells doing absolutely fuck all, so be it. My one stipulation when finding a hotel was that it had wifi internet (and not only because I have to carry on doing the puzzles for the Mail while I am away, but also because courtesy of a useful browser extension I shall also be able to watch Sky Sports while abroad).

Apart from that it was just a question of looking at the reviews. I pay particular attention to the one-star reviews if there are any and gauge from what is said and what is complained of whether there is any reason for giving just one star or whether the complainant is just another bad-tempered perpetual whinger who would find fault with the Second Coming (and that would be someone like my wife). And I have to add the Pension St Leonhard, on Tripadvisor, gets 25 excellents and 10 very goods, and no review is below four-star. So I’m rather looking forward to it.

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