Hayfever’s on the rise in the UK with a fifth of the population suffering. Given that us Brits love to complain about our weather be it too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy, hayfever is just another string to add to our weather-related bow.
Here are the five stages of hayfever, as told by a Brit who’s been whinging about it since 2003.
Stage 1 - Remember Hayfever Exists
March rocks up with its flowers, beautiful skies and increasingly longer days. The sun sets in the actual evening rather than the afternoon. You start getting excited about summer, that collective hallucination we British engage in each year.
You start looking up potential summer holiday destinations. You find your flip flops hiding in the back of the wardrobe and bring them out to the front, preparing for the first hint of warmth and sunshine. Then you notice plants are beginning to develop seeds. You remember that flowers are pretty in the same way psychopaths are charming — it’s a mask hiding a near-invisible danger.
2. Deny You’ll Get Hayfever This Year
People grow out of hayfever right? This year, it’ll be you. Your body must be used to it by now, it must know that pollen isn’t actually bad for you. This year you won’t suffer. Hell, it’s already the end of May and you haven’t felt a thing! Hurrah! You are cured!
You see hayfever tablets pop up at the ends of the aisles and smile smugly to yourself. You’ll save so much money on tissues and anti-histamines! You feel bad for those people who have already started dosing in preparation. Aww, poor them.
3. Your Eyes Begin to Itch and Your Nose Starts Running
It’s begun, you didn’t grow out of it after all. Dammit. Still, you spend hours online searching for natural remedies. Honey, give up alcohol, lock yourself in the house, bolt the windows, put vaseline everywhere. You start necking tablets and showering three times a day.
You dust your house for the first time since last hayfever season ended. This will get rid of it! But the dust is back the next day. How didn’t you notice this over winter? You buy multipacks of tissues, first the regular ones, then the ‘soothing balm’ type because your nose is red and dry from blowing it every five seconds.
4. You Curse the Summer
People say that Britain doesn’t have summer! What idiots! What morons! It’s 26 degrees out and the plants are having an effing field day! They’re spunking their pollen across the skies like drunks having a pissing contest.
The NHS issues advice — ‘stay indoors with the windows closed’ and yet offers no answer to ‘how will I get to work?!’
You begin hating the summer. The summer! Stupid season. Bring back bloody Christmas with all its insipid advertising and financially ruinous expectations! At least Christmas doesn’t have any POLLEN!
You consider writing to the Powers That Be about their priorities. Because they’ve put humans on the moon, mapped the genome and invented the internet but they still can’t actually produce a solid hayfever cure!
5. The 1st of September Arrives and You’re Really Upset
The plants have turned post-coital, their pollen gone with the school holidays. You mope around because all your hopes and fantasies of the best summer ever didn’t materialise. You still went to work every day, there were no slow-mo scenes of you and your friends running around a beach.
You feel the subtle chill of autumn working its way under your clothes and spot the first signs of Christmas appearing in the shops. Christmas! For God’s sake! We haven’t even had Halloween yet! You harp on about how summer disappeared so quickly, how British weather is awful and grey and dreary.
You look mournfully at all those impulse-bought summer clothes, worn on the one hot day and then abandoned for jeans and jumpers. Your head fills with the heady imaginations of advertiser’s summers. You miss it so badly.
Then that colleague who’s always positive says, ‘hey, at least hayfever season’s over!’
You look at them in confusion. ‘What? Hayfever? Oh, I didn’t really notice it this year, next year I don’t think I’ll get it at all.
Kitiara Pascoe is a ghostwriter and author. After three years of sailing around the Atlantic and Caribbean, she washed up in Devon in the UK. You can find her on Twitter @KitiaraP and @TheLitLifeboat. She’s the author of In Bed with the Atlantic and The Working Writer and you can find her journalism and blog at KitiaraPascoe.com or her ghostwriting at TheLiteraryLifeboat.co.uk