Susan Morrison: It’s not to be sneezed at

Paper tissues are not to be sneezed at. Picture: PA
Paper tissues are not to be sneezed at. Picture: PA
Share this article
Have your say

If anyone out there is seeking a cast-iron investment opportunity for some revenue generation, can I suggest the manufacturers of paper tissues? The first cold of the autumn/winter season has hit me. I’ve just gone through two boxes in as many hours.

Worse, this is not just any old sniffle and sneeze. This is a Newcastle cold, an unexpected gift from a jolly fine Geordie wedding.

It could be as a result of the chair situation. The wedding was being held in a 13th century monastery. Well, it had been a monastery, until Henry VIII took a serious interest in some revenue generation of his own and smashed the place up a bit and seized all the fancy bits.

He left the building, which was lucky, because it’s right in the middle of Newcastle and is thus very handy for a wedding/banqueting/party scenario, something which might just have comforted Brother Anselm and the rest of the lads as they got chucked out of their cloisters. The 21st century staff had laid the hall out beautifully, with the sort of seating you imagine 16th century feasters slouching in as they get tore in about the venison, whilst bellowing requests at the musicians – “Gie’s that wan aboot the Ten Lutes!”, that sort of thing. Big solid oak chairs with suede like cushions, very Game of Thrones.

The bride made her entrance; the frock was lovely, by the way. We all sat down.

My chair was wet. Not just damp, but “currently sitting in the First Class dining room of the RMS Titanic” wet.

Water squished out on to the floor, which made the couple sitting next to me move sharply to the right.

What’s to be done? The bride is doing that glowing thing that brides do, the groom is so stunned by her beauty that he has forgotten how to speak. Everyone is awestruck, but I am drowning in a chair with a very soggy bottom indeed.

Fortunately, I still had my coat on, and so I realised my going-to-wedding frock had not yet been too soaked. But I could hardly interrupt the young couple’s lovely moment by leaping to my feet and demanding the furniture be rearranged.

So I manoeuvred to the very edge of the seat, where the wooden beading was, and proved how good my thigh muscles can be by perching for the entire service.

It was quite clear by the horrified glances of the couple beside me, who by now were so far over in their chairs that they were apparently trying to leave the service altogether, that they thought they had been stuck at the back with the barking mad old auntie who had very eccentric ideas of how to behave at a wedding.

Even the train wouldn’t let me have a break . .

Surely the East Coast line from Newcastle to Edinburgh is one of the loveliest train trips in the world? Even when the weather was foul, as it was, with the rain battering against the windows, it’s still a spectacular journey.

I took a trip to the food bar, as we must learn to call the buffet car now. I got a comforting tea and a KitKat. You can’t go wrong with a KitKat, can you?

I made my way back to my seat.

The roof of the carriage had sprung a leak. Water was pouring in. On to my seat.

My seat was wet.

Sog on the Tyne’s all mine

As soon as the service was complete, forms were signed and kisses exchanged, I bounded up like a rather stout gazelle in a red frock. Well, hirpled, to be honest. I assured the anxious couple that I had not leaked noxious fluids, but that my cushion was wet.

Oh, how we laughed. We all went out for the photographs whilst the venue was reset for the wedding lunch. We all had champagne, whilst the smallest children screeched their heads off and ran about in the grip of the world’s biggest sugar rush. Tip to brides: wee packets of sweeties might look nice, but watching two four-year-olds who have latched a pair of three-year-olds to the front of their respective buggies and are now chariot racing them a la Ben Hur around the rose garden is truly frightening.

Then we all went into lunch, toasted the bride and groom and sat down. My chair was wet.

I was beginning to suspect it was a Geordie custom.


Thus, given the exposure to various chilly extremities, I am now loaded with the cold. I’ve been trying to shift it, but it doesn’t want to go. Hot toddies have failed. This leads me to conclude that this is a Tyneside infection, over which good whisky has no sway. I am therefore forced to conclude that I should modify the recipe to include Newcastle Brown Ale. I do not expect this to end well.