I Am Ill

Our back page columnist says he has written his latest missive while hallucinating. Not that there’s a whole lot of difference between this and his previous 88 columns…

I am ill. So very ill. I am after-birthed in a miasma of my greenest juices, girdled by a Great Barrier Reef of mucilaginous, man-sized Kleenex. I ache from buttock to brain to body parts that haven’t been invented yet. If I sneeze at just three more knots on the Beaufort wind force scale, a lung is likely to eject through a nostril. Don’t come near. You’ll be chloroformed by a sauna of my own spectacular gases. The horror, the horror.

I’m writing this column on my sofa, horizontal and gasping, each word as painfully laid as a Rubik’s Cube birthed by a chaffinch. I say “writing”… I’m dribbling on my computer keyboard as I grunt in indeterminate syllables in the hope of sending the smallest electrical impulse to my befuddled mind. I feel like I’ve not moved for months, like a fly-tipped mattress or disowned bicycle. Where do I end and where does my sofa begin? Is what I’m touching skin or upholstery? It’s hard to tell – they’re both so wet.

To inspire healing, my Bluetooth speaker is blasting out medical-themed electronic hits. Kraftwerk’s ‘Vitamin’ tells me the A, B, C, D of the drugs I need. Praga Khan’s ‘Injected With A Poison’ tells me I don’t need those drugs anymore. The Prodigy’s ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ tells me that, drugs or no drugs, Liam Howlett’s going to lead-pipe my face to mush whatever happens. In the words of Depeche Mode’s ‘Shake The Disease’, “You know how hard it is for me to shake the disease / Blah blah blah… something about tongues”. Why do I never google these things before I start writing?

The two lads from the acclaimed bleep band Autechre are administering me paracetamol. One is dressed as Florence Nightingale, lamp and all. The other is dressed as Florence from ‘The Magic Roundabout’, a girl who thought she could converse with snails. This means only one thing. I’m hallucinating. The fever has taken my brain to another dimension. Pay close attention. I want to ask the Autechre chaps about the mystery behind their complex beats. But the pill they’re ramming in my mouth has transformed into an animated beach ball from the video for ‘Go West’ by the Pet Shop Boys. “Mff mmfmffff mppph!” I protest into the inflatable plastic. “Have you heard our version of ‘Single-Bilingual’?” asks Darren from Autechre, for he looks like a Darren.

Wait. No. This isn’t real. It’s just the illness. Is this what happens to all the great electronic musicians? They go mad with fever then produce masterpieces like ‘Tubular Bells’ or ‘Violator’ or ‘The Best Of Vengaboys’? Should I be writing a symphony right now? If I don’t deliver this column to Electronic Sound, it’s the nipple clamp punishment, and none of us wants to go through that rash-inducing rigmarole. Again. I must try to get better. I make a gallon of Lemsip and shove my face into the hot sticky goo. I poke Vicks nasal sprays into every orifice I can find. I give myself a foot bath with Lucozade.

It’s working. I’m feeling alright. I fling open my porch door and inhale the glorious outside air, ready to take on the world. I instantly vomit onto my patio. Ugh. I squint at the puke. The splatter seems to have formed letters. An I. Then an A and an M. Is that an I and two Ls? I gaze at the paving chunder through puffy eyes as sentences begin to form. “Tell you what,” I say to Darren from Autechre, who’s now dressed as Florence + The Machine, “sometimes this column just writes itself.”

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