Sunday, 3 May 2009


Q: what is the cure for swine flu?

A: Oinkment.

That’s right, now that we have all gotten over the fact that wine flue is about to wipe out the human race the terrible jokes have began to seep from the pores of people who think they’re being clever when really they’re just being annoying. We are surely all doomed; if the swine flu doesn’t kill us we’ll be driven to suicide as a result of all the atrocious jokes about it. I’m not sure which is more dangerous actually.

The recent rise of swine flu, I refuse to use the scientifically correct version on the basis that it has subscript numbers and they are the work is Satan, as a pretender to the recession’s throne as the cause impending apocalypse has been hard to miss unless you live on the moon, or alternatively the deep south of America. Much like the recession, and indeed any story with any mileage, the popular media has latched onto the impending swine flu pandemic like a half starved dog latching onto a disappointingly grizzly piece of meat. As is almost always the case with media more concerned with selling newspapers than actually informing the public they have blown the threat of swine flu so far out of proportion that it makes Jeremy Clarkson’s ego look reasonably sized.

No doubt there is some threat posed by swine flu; given our lack of immunity to it we are all at risk of catching it and because it is a flu virus spread by water droplets in the air it can spread through a population like wildfire. However as a virus it is about as potent as the normal flu that is pretty widespread in this country every goddamn winter! Flu does kill about 1 million people worldwide every year, but that is a tiny drop in the ocean compared with how many actually catch it. Most people just have some antibiotics, a few days off work sleeping it off and then they’re fine.

One of the main worries voiced about swine flu is that quite a lot of young healthy people who would not normally be susceptible to the flu virus are catching it. But this does not mean to say that young healthy people are dying from it, in fact if young healthy people do catch it they have a much betting chance of fighting it and recovering, because they’re young and healthy. Their immune systems are strong enough to fight the virus and get over it. Flu is a problem when the old and infirm get it because their immune systems don’t have the strength to fight it off. The only thing that is going to come of the outbreak is a few more sick days and poor jokes.

So in short the mass media has taken the limited threat of a swine flu pandemic and made it seem like a huge threat to national health, even though the UK, for once, is extremely well prepared, with plenty of flu vaccines in stock after the winter. These flu vaccines work very well against swine flu so we have very little to worry about, yet the whole country is so panicked that we have resorted to making very, very bad jokes about it. We were as worried about the potential Sars and Bird flu outbreaks which were ultimately forgotten all about when the media because bored with it and threw to away like a child with ADHD discarding a new toy because it wasn’t interesting. The threat of bird flu is still very real; in fact it has barely diminished from what it was when it was the number one story for longer than ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna was at number 1 in the UK singles chart. But bird flu went out of fashion and it is now time for swine flu to have its time in the sun while we all walk around in face-masks wondering why no-one is going outside anymore.

In a couple of months swine flu will be resigned to the graveyard of diseases which were supposed to kill us all but never lived up to expectations. Submit epitaphs on a postcard in the form of haikus please. I wonder which animal will lend its name to a disappointing form of flu failing to live up to expectations next. I have it straight from the horse’s mouth that it will be equine flu.

1 comment: