Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It's Cold Comfort Arm

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It's Cold Comfort Arm

Article excerpt

Byline: gary BAINBRIDGE One man's struggle with the 21st century Follow Gary on Twitter: @Gary_Bainbridge or email him at

THIS is the most wonderful time of the year. As December arrives I can stop being annoyed about people putting up their Christmas trees and eating mince pies in November, and just enjoy the delights of the season.

I can enjoy the beautiful lights, wandering through traditional Christmas markets featuring traditional paella stalls as Charles Dickens would have done, and telling anybody who will listen that Elf is a terrible film.

And I can enjoy most of all my annual early December cold. I cannot imagine an early December without that feeling of being slightly removed from the world, a sinusbased headache, and people being surprised by the basso profundo voice a sore throat unaccountably inflicts upon me. Combine this voice with the wheeziness of a blocked nose, and it is no surprise that when I begin to speak people look around for Darth Vader.

What I like most about my annual early December cold is that I have no idea when it is going to strike. A more grown-up person might have learned to take this into account and have prepared for it, buying in supplies such as Lemsip and whisky and more whisky.

But I am incapable of learning from history and so I invariably am caught unprepared.

And so I came to be on a bus. It was late. The wind was whipping through the Christmas lights strung across the high street, and nobody passing under them failed to think, "This is how I die. I am going to be electrocuted by a swinging angel outside Primark".

I had chosen not to buy any more umbrellas after the loss of my last one, because I had recognised that at the rate that I lose them I would soon be bankrupted, but it did not matter as the rain was falling upwards.

By the time I reached the bus stop, my waterproof coat had to admit that I had bought it under false pretences and might as well have been made out of crepe paper. I was wet under my skin.

The bus finally arrived and I boarded it, taking refuge by a window seat, and feeling the hot air blasting up my trouser leg, gently cooking it. …

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