I have a tickly cough. It is the worst sort of cough as its name suggests it might at the very least make you laugh. It doesn’t. It instead that other type of tickling. That type that’s done by someone who deems it appropriate to invade your personal space and try to tickle you despite the fact you wouldn’t actually like them anywhere nearer than 500 yards away from you at all times. I’m not sure when that happened with tickling. There was definitely a point, as a kid, where tickling was brilliant. You laughed and no one had to write a joke or an Edinburgh show to make it happen. It was proper laughing too, like the type where you can’t breath because you’ve laughed too much. Then, at some point, it just became creepy. Suddenly, as an adult, tickling is borderline harassment. Mr Tickle went from being a big gangly armed hilarity master to being a big gangly armed pervert. I’m not sure why. I mean, often on the tube, I see people looking so miserable that a tickle would probably be exactly what they needed. Not that I would do it. That’s how you get arrested. Or worse, hands covered in other people’s sweat. Essentially maybe this is why tickling becomes wrong. Its not so much other people’s disgust at being tickled, its the ticklers disgust at touching other people. I say bring tickling back. Except for me. Don’t touch me. Thanks.
So this cough is bad tickling. It seems to sit in my throat like a tiny Ken Dodd with a tickling stick, and it waits until I am about to eat something or am in the middle of a very interesting sentence (I do say those sometimes) at which point it waves its feather duster to the extremes and I splutter words and food in the most unsightly way. Thanks cough. The other term people might have for it is a ‘frog in your throat’. I hope its not one of those. I’m a vegetarian. I don’t want to eat frogs. Not only that, but why aren’t I choking? Frogs are pretty big compared to my throat. So many questions, so little time. Actually there’s ages, I’d just like this cough to go away now. I don’t like being at all unwell. It just serves to cement in my head that I am now falling apart. I mean, its something I brought up in last year’s Edinburgh show (which you can download here) but from the age of 11 onwards your body is deteriorating. This terrifies me and I’ve been thinking about it an awful lot. I mean, here I am, with a slight tickly cough. Add to that that I have a diabetic pump, insoles in my shows, have to take two different tablet things for diabetic stuff and this morning, when running, my right leg just gave up and hurt a lot. It was pretty embarrassing actually. Two thirds of the way round Finsbury Park, it just decided I’d put it through enough today and along with the cough, brought me to a standstill right near a drunk man on a park bench. Yes it was 10am. Yes he was already drunk. Yes he, despite his predicament, still managed to look at me with the sort of discern that said ‘I can’t believe you can’t run all the way round the park, how weak and unhealthy are you?’
Last night I was discussing with my friend Ali that we are all turning 30 in the next 12-18 months and I remarked about how, right now, I feel pretty young. I’m doing a lot of going out, drinking and generally enjoying myself. The bit I didn’t say however is, unlike ten years ago, all this going out has made me really tired and I’d really like two or three nights in now. Where does this stop? Legs hurting, feeling tired, am I going to wake up on my 30th birthday next January to find my limbs and hair have all fallen off and I can only see out of one eye? It is of course possible that I just have a bit of a cough and I’m being all hypochondriac about it. Yes that’s what I’ll tell myself. Then when it turns out to frogitis maximus or something as deadly I can at least console myself that I didn’t see it coming. Then I would spend my last days on this earth wondering around the world, barefoot, and tickling everyone and making everyone laugh and then feel violated all at once, confusing them about what they really want from life. Or I might just have some cough syrup. Yes. Probably that one.