With all the colds and flu going around at the moment, I am reminded of a time, many years ago, when I had a very bad cold, and how I cured it.
I was in the infantry at the time enduring my National Service. If you were ill, or thought you were, and wanted to see a doctor, a certain procedure had to be followed.
You first had to seek permission from the company sergeant major, to attend Sick Parade. This was akin to a minor inquisition. You had to convince the Sgt.Major that you were really ill and not malingering. Not an easy thing to accomplish when you are being called all the foul names under the sun, and your paternity is being impugned.
If you get through this, you have to pack-up everything you own into what is called Full Scale Marching Order (FSMO). This consists of haversacks and pouches that adorn the body. The result of this is that all of your pristine uniforms and kit, including your greatcoat, will be crushed and creased likely never to be recovered. At this point you are considering the desirability of dying. You then have to pack up all of your bedding and return that to the stores.
Now resembling Sherpa Tensing, you present yourself for sick-parade at the company office where you will be inspected to see that the multiplicity of brass buckles that keep all your goods and chattels together, are gleaming like diamonds. And the canvas material that the bags are made of, are covered in a blemish free coat of powdery stuff called Blanco. All this is carried out on an empty stomach as the parade timing is cunningly calculated to ensure that you miss breakfast.
With the inspection over, and the promise of some heinous punishment to come for that fingerprint on your belt buckle, you are ready for the doctor - but not quite yet. The medical center is two miles away, and you have to double (run), there!
If you are lucky, you die before you get there, if not, there will be a re-run of the verbal abuse you received from the Sgt.Major. Only this time it will be from a lesser mortal trying to emulate a Sgt.Major who masquerades as the doctors receptionist.
Finally you present to the doctor, who will be a fresh faced youth just out of medical school. The army in its wisdom, immediately make these young pretenders captains - a rank it takes the rest of us an eternity to reach.
The procedure then is very uncomplicated. If you have an above normal temperature, you line up outside and wait for a military ambulance to take you to a Royal Military Hospital (RMH). The wait could be: and usually is, a long one. You soon learn that it is better to get sick in the summer.
If on the other hand your temperature is normal, and your condition has nothing to do with your feet, you are given some aspirin and told to come back next week. Are they kidding? The only time I come here again is in a box!
If however your complaint concerns your feet, you are excused boots (you can wear trainers), for a week and sent on your way.
As I was familiar with the above, I decided to tough it out even though each cough felt like the linings of my lungs were coming off.
During the previous night, gale force winds had blown down an old oak tree next to the Regimental Sergeant Major's (RSM) office. He demanded that it be removed immediately, and how dare it have the effrontery to fall down in the first place - and in that place too.
I was volunteered with a couple of others to remove it. We sawed and hacked and dragged for most of the day, and by the evening, the tree was gone, and so was my cold. I had literally sweated it out.
The moral of the story is, if you get sick in the army, volunteer for some very hard labor. It will be a walk in the park compared to sick parade.