You won’t hear Will Smith alluding to it. For reasons clearly known only to themselves, the Lovin’ Spoonful neglected to mention it. But for many of us, summer isn’t summer without streaming eyes, running noses and a terror of the outside world. And with seemingly more people than ever suffering from hay fever, and warnings that it’s somehow going to get even worse, it’s clearly time to concentrate all human resources in a quest for its eradication.
It’s like a biological Brexit: you can tell your body that it’s being stupid all you want but it just carries on anyway
I’m one of the 13 million or so adults in the UK for whom this season is less Hot Fun in the Summertime and more Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. Which means that most people don’t get it. By “it”, I mean not only the symptoms, but the whole blasted thing. Hay fever is more than the sum of its rubbishy parts. It’s the storm cloud in the clear sky, the rusty nail in the ice cream. You see a sunlit meadow; I see an al fresco torture chamber. Yes, fish may be jumping; the cotton may be high. But your blessed Summertime has just put shoved my sinuses into a liquidiser.
It’s like being allergic to Christmas decorations or your birthday. You know you’re supposed to be having a great time but that Summer Breeze doesn’t make me feel in the least bit fine because it has just blown powdered evil into my head. Buzzkill doesn’t begin to cover it. What makes it even worse is the pathetic nature of it all: my body for some reason mistakes pollen – that’s pollen, the stuff that makes plants – for something akin to a military-grade nerve agent. It’s like a biological Brexit: you can tell your body that it’s being stupid all you want but it just carries on anyway. And there can surely be no more persuasive argument against intelligent design than the whole eye-rubbing thing: it feels incredible but ends up somehow activating your eyelids’ hitherto undiscovered Superglue glands.
The good news is that we summer snifflers have a hero. She has clearly been sent to us by some vastly more advanced civilisation, but here on earth she goes by the name of Yuriko Koike, and is the governor of Tokyo. Hay fever (even the name is stupid – nothing to do with hay, not a fever) is regarded as the “national disease” over there. During last year’s general election, the glorious Koike made what’s surely the election pledge to end all election pledges: she said she would eliminate the pollen-fuelled plague. Destroy it. Grind it mercilessly out of existence. My application for Japanese citizenship is in the post.
Yes, a world without pollen probably means a world without plants. But I think it’s time we showed those cocky upstarts who’s boss. After all, hay fever only really got going after the industrial revolution, so it’s plainly a plot by flowers, vegetables, grass, trees – those sorts of things – to avenge the destruction of their ancestors. If the price is a sterile, brown wasteland like the one navigated by Wall-E, then it’s well worth paying; the tragic mistake they make in that film is to suppose that flora will somehow improve their lives. Little do they know that their future summers will consist mainly of daytime fatigue, somnolence and decreased cognitive functioning, in addition to grim bodily discharges.
I’m informed by people who know about these things that global politics is perhaps in one of its less wholesome phases at the moment. So there’s no better time to unite the human race in a new cause, a noble mission. Get rid of hay fever and make summer great again. In the meantime, those wretched summer days will just keep driftin’ away to ah, oh, those summer nights. Uh well-a well-a well-aaaaaa-CHOOO.
• Peter Ormerod is a journalist with a particular interest in religion, culture and gender