The sensation of ‘being me’ at precisely 03:34 this morning felt a bit like being hit square in the face by an InterCity train made of condensed hay fever; ten carriages of pollen, dust and microscopic spores bonded with a potent histamine syrup. I awoke with the classic symptoms: an insanely dry and itchy throat, gunky red eyes and the commencement of thirty minutes or so of staccato sneezing. I trudged downstairs to wash my face, took a Loratadine tablet, drank a couple of pints of water and finally got back to sleep at about six o’clock.
Maybe it serves me right: Six months ago I moved out of London, having lived there for just shy of ten years. I never suffered from hay fever as a child nor in my teens, but it caught up with me two years after moving to the city (though the lay scientist in me must point out here that this is not proof of a causal link). To plagiarise Moonraker, my hay fever symptoms normally appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season at around the end of March, and then hang around being quite annoying till the end of July, presumably in rhythm with the annual cycles of the particular grasses and flowers to which I am allergic. But so far this year I have had hardly any symptoms at all, and I was privately feeling smug that moving out of London had helped to alleviate the problem, as I had predicted. (Again, of course it could just be that there are different pollens on the wind where I now live.) And as a result I’ve been neglecting to take my antihistamines.
One positive thing about hay fever is that its very existence is compelling evidence that God does not exist. Believers often state that the truly bad things in life, like wars or cancer, are “sent to try us”, or that God in allowing (or causing?) these things to happen is testing our faith or indeed punishing us. This is arguably fair enough, but why then would this omnipotent supernatural creator also set out to design such a moderately irksome and inconvenient thing as hay fever? As a source of personal amusement?
Perhaps, as well as moving in mysterious ways, God moves in ridiculous ways too. An all-seeing Practical Joker Upon high. If he does exist then quite frankly he’s a bit of a dick.