March 2017 · Thar she blows
Marginalia: Notes written in the margins of a text. Rhymes with Australia!

Fanfare for the common cold


"Muuuuuummm. I'm siiiiick. I'd better stay home from school today."

"Is that so?" The Mothership would say, placing the back of her hand on my forehead to gauge my temperature. "Hmmmm."

"Are you dead or dying?" she'd continue, "Because unless you're dead or dying, you're going to school."

"I'm not dead or dying."

"Well you'd better get a wriggle on then, we're leaving in ten minutes!"

I always felt deeply wronged by the Dead Or Dying sick day criteria, but it was common policy among the frazzled working mums of my peers. This was the eighties and they had no time for our minor sniffles and terrible acting.

Many decades later, at the start of February, I was felled by a properly rotten cold. As I shivered through a Monday on the couch beneath a patchwork blanket, a field of crumpled tissues at my feet, The Mothership's cheeky face appeared above me, like it always does in these moments. Are You Dead Or Dying? Juuuuust checking!

Now I am better, and I've passed the lurgy baton to Gareth. Of course it's hit him so much worse. This morning he was gazing mournfully out the kitchen window, sipping his tea and listening to the chorus of blackbirds.

"I'll really miss that sound when I'm gone."

. . .

In this month's edition: a look at the The Common Cold. Ways to feed it, ways to distract yourself from its snotty clutches, and a banging tune to help you carry on.

Feed a fever


The magic soup

On the rare days I was declared sufficiently close to expiration to stay home, there was always Vegemite toast.

Mum made it just right: buttery (okay, margarine-y, this was the eighties), with a whisper of Vegemite. That salty black goo has magical healing properties, I tell you.

These days when I'm ill, I crave tinned tomato soup. Or better still, this easy homemade version. A savoury, creamy, steamy bowlful is pure comfort.

All you need to do is slowly sauté some chopped onions and garlic, then chuck in a tin of tomatoes and some chilli flakes. Simmer, then add a a dollop of crème fraîche before blasting it up with an immersion blender.

All up it's about twenty minutes effort, so ideal for the early stages where you're almost enjoying being a bit unwell, but not yet truly miserable.

Now, for something to dunk into it...

JoannaJoanna's Cheese Toastie

My pal Joanna Bourke is a chef and life coach. She cooks at events and retreats, and helps people to get organised in the kitchen through her service Chop & Change. She also makes truly outstanding scones!

"I love comfort food at the best of times, but when I'm feeling poorly I need instant TLC in edible form.

It should tick the following boxes: warm, easy to make, filling, tasty and crunchy. A cheese toastie hits the spot.

Joanna's toastieMelted cheese on warm buttery toast, it can be put together in five minutes. A sharp farmhouse cheddar with Branston pickle or mustard gives a kick of flavour.

The bread will fill you up until you're well enough to get up again, and it should be cut into triangles as it just tastes better that way.

For crunch, serve with the side that's a mandatory part of every sandwich order in the cafes and pubs of Ireland - cheese & onion crisps."

Thank you Jo! I am so with you on the triangles.

Hot toddyThe Hot Toddy

Despite being married to a distiller, I struggle to enjoy whisky. But Gareth has converted me to the healing powers of a hot toddy! When my throat was raw and raspy, its soothing power was better than a hundred nasty Strepsils. 

He used Nigel Slater's recipe, except we didn't have the spices so it was basically hot water, honey, lemon and a generous slug of Johnnie Walker (he was not wasting single malt on the likes of me).

If you love Nigel as much as I do, enjoy your toddy while reading Nigel Slater Quotes on Twitter. It's full of Nigel gems, gloriously out of context.

"I turn to mashed potato when I feel the world is against me."  - N. Slater

Things of the Month

Cold comfort

There's a brief sweet spot in the life of a cold when you're genuinely too unwell to work, but your head is not yet so stuffed that you can't enjoy reading or telly. Here's how I passed the time...

Making Oprah

This astoundingly awesome podcast takes a behind the scenes peek at The Oprah Winfrey Show, with oodles of interviews from the producers, her hair stylist, Phil Donahue and the amazing O herself.

It covers Oprah's incredible journey from humble morning chat show to global phenomenon, and dissects all the big moments from The Wheelbarrow of Fat to YOU GET A CAR!

As someone who religiously taped every episode (maybe skipping the Gary Zukav ones... borrring) and sometimes still accidentally sprouts a Dr Phil-ism (You Can't Change What You Don't Acknowledge!), this podcast was purest gold.


When you're full of snot there's no time for subtitles and subtlety. Handily, my cold coincided with the Netflix release of Riverdale.

This delicious new take on the old Archie comics is stylish, dark, witty, sometimes ridiculous, and full of beautiful teenagers with vocabularies and cultural references beyond their tender years. Best of all the grownups include Luke Perry from 90210 and Mädchen Amick from Twin Peaks. Squeak!

My only request is that we hear more Josie and the Pussycats (cracking Donna Summer cover in Episode 6!) and less of Archie's dreary songwriting, please oh please.


Gently does it

You know the woeful last dregs of the cold, when you plead to your deity of choice to please make your nose stop running, like Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life? (I want to live again. I want to live again. Please God, let me live again.)

That's when I enjoyed this soothing Yoga For When You Are Sick video, from Yoga With Adrienne. Even more delicate is Yoga For Couch Potatoes, where you just wave your arms around a bit, without having to leave your perch. 

Soldier On

No playlist this month, as oddly enough there aren't too many odes on this subject. Instead here's an earworm for you: the 1980s Australian commercial for Codral Cold & Flu tablets.

In this classic anthem to martrydom, postmen, important business types, golfers, orchestra conductors alike were bravely able to carry on their shoulder-padded lives, spreading their germs with wild abandon, all thanks to Codral! It's a catchy number.

Solider on!
Soldier on to your correspondence
Soldier on to your night out of town

Thank you for reading, good people! Until next time, I hope you have a marvellous March.


Forward to a comrade
Copyright © 2017 Shauna Reid Writes, All rights reserved.