It takes a lot to get Sydney men excited. A pound of cocaine; six lap-dancers in a Kings Cross strippery; a win for the mighty Blues in Rugby League’s State of Origin against the despised Queenslanders might provoke a satisfied nod of the head.
But then again, for most that’s just an average Friday night.
So to hear them on the radio speaking with relief and eagerness about a new medical discovery was truly something wonderful.
Actual medical researchers – that is people with proper white coats and test tubes – from Cambridge University – proper Uni, home of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin – have proved that when men get flu, they get it worse than women.
The switchboard filled with grateful men. They didn’t want to crow. They didn’t want to say I told you so. They just wanted to speak from the heart about how it felt to have their suffering validated.
For too long women have put quotation marks around “man flu”. When they say it, they do the quote mark gesture. A popular comic sketch has done the rounds of YouTube, satirising the general view that when men get the tiniest little sniffle they bung it on like a diving Italian striker.
But these tireless medical investigators, working on the frontiers of science, have found that men’s immune systems are weaker and so therefore the same flu will engender worse symptoms in men than in women.
Men are sad, sniffling victims of evolution.
The biological imperative to reproduce has reduced men to this ennervated state. As we suffer, we also find a strong will within us to mate. Perhaps this is our last chance to bestow the gift of our DNA. And then as we slowly find our strength, the unquenchable competitive drive sends us back out into society before we have regained our strength and so the risk of reinfection is high.
I’m not making this up.
People with “Dr” in front of their name found this out.
While men on their death bed rang into describe the double torture of their suffering and their partner’s indifference, women rang voices harsh with sarcasm.
“I’ve got a cure,” said Annie, “Take a teaspoon of cement and harden up.”
This attitude has to change.
Linda called and told us a shocking story.
“I ignored all the signs and thought it was just the ‘man flu’, [the quotation marks were audible] three days later he was in intensive care with pneumonia.”
We risk lives here. National productivity could be affected.
We soon had a call for the establishment of Man Flu Units in all our major hospitals.
Andy was quick to volunteer.
“I’m a male nurse. I’ve worked in intensive care, emergency, drug and alcohol units. I think that’s the kind of experience needed to run an MFU. I’d be happy to talk to health authorities about what’s needed,” he said.
By the end of the afternoon we’d established The Man Flu Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness of this crippling condition and finding a cure.
I’m the patron and I’m hoping soon that a beer company will put Man Flu bottle tops on its Pilsener to recognise Man Flu Week, that Malcolm Turnbull, now he’s free, will agree to be patron and we’ll hear from Messers Rudd and Abbott on a whole-of-government approach to dealing with what is a scientifically proven disease.
Dr Olivier Restif and Dr William Amos have published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. That’s not Who Weekly.
James Valentine presents Afternoons on 702 ABC Sydney.
For more on the ‘man flu’, you can listen to the plea for donations to the Man Flu Foundation, or listen to the calls from 702 Sydney listeners battling ‘man flu’.