Sneeze if you want to go faster: on hay fever and Brexit.

I’m doing something daring right now. I’m writing about a first-world problem in the wake of the result of the EU referendum.

Actually I’m doing two daring things. I’m also drinking peppermint tea when it’s just that little bit too hot.

First things first, this ain’t because my priorities are skewed (I hate burning my tongue). Nor is it because I don’t care or don’t understand that our country would be better off it were being ruled by Voldemort right now. I feel as nauseous and full of angst and fear and anger and disappointment as everyone else I know.

If anything it’s the opposite. After Friday’s result we have a fight ahead of us. We. The young who want a brighter future. We who can’t watch the world we know implode in front of our eyes and do nothing.

I have faith in us of course. The Spice Girls splitting up was just the warm-up. We got this. We must be strong. United. Positive. Level-headed. Persistent. Vocal. Committed. It’s time to talk. Write. Petition. March. We must not give up. 

Which is great and everything but I can’t stop sneezing. 

You see – alongside the fact that our country is fractured, croissants are going up in price, David Attenborough is sad, the racists won and everyone in the world thinks Brits are a joke, there is another pretty enormous dilemma in my life right now that is not only bringing me down but significantly limiting my ability to delve into peaceful protest as an effective human being. 

And by bringing me down I obviously mean hurtling me into a dark existence of emotional eating choc ices. But you knew that.

I’m talking ‘bout you, hay fever. Seriously. You’re one eye infection away from being more damaging than Brexit.

It’s testament to how deeply panicked I felt at the thought of Britain leaving the EU that I was even able to leave the house and vote because, to be honest, in the last three months, besides dragging myself to work and occasionally venturing out to see if chocolate oranges are on sale, I’m barely exaggerating when I say I’ve spent about 90% of my free time in May and June sat down on the floor rocking from side to side trying not to claw my nose off my face and die. Trying to recall a time when I didn’t wake up feeling like I needed to bathe in vic vapour rub for eternity or just simply live under water. 

When did British summer time stop being about Pimms and strawberry splits and freckles and sunburnt scalps because all hats are made for heads that are smaller than mine and instead turn out to be this seasonal nightmare where noses literally die from the inside just because flowers exist? Forget sun blindness – now it’s pollen-infested corneas and breathing through what feels like a plant stem for a throat. 

To think I had it tough when I was nine and the kids at school laughed at me because I got sun cream in my eyebrows and up until that point no one thought I had any eyebrows and they called me grandma for six months. Now I no longer have an affinity with bees and we’re out of the EU – is this really adulthood?

Hay fever is so far under my skin it’s affecting both my professional and personal life way too much. I’m genuinely concerned people at work think of me as ‘the nose-blower’ or ‘even her elbows are allergic.’ I can’t taste food anymore because my sense of smell and taste buds buggered off to somewhere pollen free a long time ago – probably the Antarctic, or the kebab shop. You know what, those senses have probably got EU citizenship by now. 

My relationship is suffering. As much as one might think smothering my pillow in albas oil every night is arousing, while a boyfriend who chooses an allergy-free partner might get lucky mid-week, mine has albas-induced tears rolling down his cheeks and spends most evenings trying to locate his libido amongst all the nasal spray and phlegm. 

You can imagine all this can get pretty depressing. To put it into context it’s pretty difficult to vocalise your total despair at this country’s political system when you can’t get through a sentence without sneezing or clearing your throat. My voice is lower than the pound right now. My sinuses as effective as Jeremy Corbyn.

As a distraction from my decrepit body I came up with a list of things I enjoy more than hay fever, because positivity. Stand out items are quinoa, humidity hair, and reaching the end of my overdraft. So you get a sense of scale – the fur trade only just beats it. 

While everyone else has been successfully breathing this week I also came up with a list of things I could have treated myself to if I wasn’t currently spending my life savings on prescription anti-histamines. Up to and including flights to Madrid (that was before Friday’s result – it’ll be too close to call now), things on Asos that haven’t come from me filtering ‘lowest prices first’ and like five pet lobsters. 

I have tried everything. Bowls of echinacea. Eye drops. Pills. Creams. Strange herbal balms. Prayer. Meditation. Applying for a lung transplant. At one point I considered moving to Europe but I guess that’s out the window.

What I’ve discovered amongst all this is if you well and truly get hay fever (if you think you have it you don’t so that’s nice for you high-5) there is sweet fuck all you can do. In political terms it’s as hopeless and as soul-destroying as the prospect of Jeremy Hunt running for Prime Minister. 

A week ago after a particularly traumatising experience mistaking perfume for Beconase I resigned myself to the last remaining option: hang fairy lights in my room, start buying presents, make a Christmas playlist and lie on my bed waiting for winter to arrive. 

But now I can’t. BECAUSE OF YOU, BREXIT. 

Now I have to act instead. There are way too many truths to post on social media and parades to join and flights to book before we can’t afford them. We can’t just sit back and wait until the sweet cocoon of winter enfolds us in its pollen-free wings. We can’t recline and self-medicate Piriton whilst watching David Cameron trot off in October leaving us to that mop-haired buffoon who – I’ll be honest – scares me more than Azkaban. 

So where does that leave me?

Well. I’d give up anti-histamines to be a part of the EU. That’s what it comes down to. And that realisation is enough to make me breathe a little easier and see a little clearer.

Armed with my comrades in arms – Airwaves gum, Kleenex and that 48% – I’m ready to fight back. Who’s with me? 

PS. Does anyone know if Nigel Farage gets hay fever? Just digging out any last sense of justice in the world. Thanks and love. X


  1. Hands down best thing I’ve read on Brexit, hilarious. Laughed out loud and shared your pain. And encouraging to hear you are just as angry as me (I’ve been told by some leave voters I’m not allowed to be upset). I’m with you 100% let’s fight this! Also made me realise how mild my hay fever is (don’t hate me!) Lots of sympathy going out you right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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