So it’s with us, or not, as the case may be. I refer, of course, to Swine Flu, and all the doom laden experts have been queuing up in the Press and the Media to predict the end of the world as we know it. Pandemic is a word tossed lightly around, and it’s coming to a neighbourhood near you! Professors of dubious provenance, as dry as sea biscuits and whose sense of humour was surgically removed when they collected their PHD, drone on interminably about Armageddon, it’s very depressing stuff.

I blame Mexico, where it all started. There they have ‘swine’ not pigs, a subtle difference perhaps, but a difference nonetheless.

My family and close friends tell me I’m like a fine wine, I don’t travel well, but if I were to foray into foreign parts, I doubt if Mexico would be high on my list. Even getting there augers ill. The national airline of Mexico, I forget the name, but it’s probably Mexicair, is running a very curious advertisement in the national press. There’s a picture of two passengers, presumably in business class, as their knees aren’t tucked under their chins, staring with rictus grins at a plastic tray containing the chef’s special. If ever a meal were designed to attract an immediate dose of Swine Flu, this is it. And to make matters worse, not a drink in sight!

Mexico is rapidly turning into the Benidorm of the Americas, attracting the Great Unwashed in search of sun, sea, sand, sex, sombreros and sangria, and all at rock bottom prices. The economy seems to be rooted in the drugs trade, with peones being swatted like flies in violent turf wars by rival ‘barons’ vying with each other for control of the market. The police in Mexico City have the unenviable reputation of being the most corrupt police force in the world, and that’s saying something, and the politicians are not much better. I suspect it has something to do with the heat, the flies and the food.

To beat the remorseless spread of Swine Flu, we are being enjoined to observe even the most basic standards of hygiene whilst in public places. It’s a sad indictment of homo ignorans that we need to be reminded about the dangers of free range sneezing, coughing or gobbing, or washing our hands after visiting the lavatory, or resisting the temptation to scratch our bottoms, or pick our noses. We are also advised to avoid unnecessary bodily contact. With whom, pray? “Sorry, darling, not tonight!”

I was visiting a client in prison the other day. He proffered his hand for me to shake, and I declined. “Swine Flu,” I explained. He recoiled in horror. “Have you got it?”

With all this publicity, nobody, least of all the ‘dry as a sea biscuit’ professor, is telling me what are the symptoms. The best being offered is that the symptoms are akin to ordinary flu, but then, as I have never had ordinary flu, this doesn’t help. I have had influenza, a better class of malady altogether, but never the ‘flu’.

Finally, some elements of the Media are searching for a better and more socially acceptable epithet for Swine Flu. I agree, so why not Porcine Influenza? If you’re going to die, then die with dignity.

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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

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