In Lerwick, Archie MacDuff stood looking out of his kitchen window. He watched the huge seas crash against the hard beach, while the fierce wind blew the few trees over at right angles. It looked a fine day.
Archie was feeling a little tired. He hadn’t slept for the past 5 days, his current bout of fisherman’s lung had meant he spent the night hours coughing up blood, and reeling deliriously round the bedroom. His wife hadn’t complained, because she had slept right through it all. Orkney women were not disturbed by such trivial illness.
Despite being a little jaded, Archie had a job to do. North Sea fish did not just walk up the beach, knock on the cottage door and ask to be belted over the head with a large hammer. Archie knew the old stories. His father Hamish had once put to sea dressed only in a string vest and a light sporran, as he was suffering from a nasty bout of zeppelin fever, and had had a temperature so high that the doctor’s thermometer had actually boiled, right before it exploded. Hamish had had a fine day’s fishing too, and the sheer heat radiating off him had actually smoked the fish as he hauled them into the boat, making them into readymade kippers.
Archie’s grandfather Muriel (it’s a long story, but his mother couldn’t think of a decent boy’s name at the time she went to register him) had often sailed while feeling a little poorly. Once he had a cough so violent that it had caused his eyeballs to implode. On the plus side it had also cleared the fog over a 38 square mile radius, making navigation a lot easier.
Life was hard for the MacDuff’s, but they were hard men, capable of seeing anything through, no matter how poorly they might feel.
Meanwhile in Fetcham, Mark Jones gave a light cough and had to blow his nose. “I’ve got a bit of a cold” he whimpered, and immediately rang his cycling buddies to let them know he would be staying in, with a nice mug of warm Lemsip.
I’ll let you draw you own conclusions!