All The Right Noises

Zoë Sharp

I’m feeling a bit glum at the moment. Daft, really, because I’ve no right to be.

Last week we came back from a mini-tour in the States for the US publication of KILLER INSTINCT from Busted Flush Press. It was a fun trip. We got to see some old friends, and spend a little time with fellow ‘Rati blogger JT Ellison – who came to the airport in Nashville just for coffee and a chat while we waited for our connection. How cool is that?

And we got to spend a lot more time with Toni McGee Causey and her highly entertaining husband, Carl, being given the tour of New Orleans that the tourists really don’t get to see, including the most amazing vehicle graveyard I’ve ever come across…

…And a bunch of black locusts that were huge and somewhat scary.

Carl also gave Andy his first taste of firing long guns during an afternoon at the local gun range – where, it must be said, a not inconsiderable amount of ammunition was expended.

In New York, it was great to have the chance to hang out with Lee Child and his web guru, Maggie Griffin. It was Maggie who very kindly told me about the terrific review for KILLER INSTINCT in last weekend’s New York Times. Hurrah!

Although I signed a lot of stock for Busted Flush while we were over there, I didn’t do a huge tour of bookstores. The ones I did visit gave us a very warm welcome, though, and it was lovely to make a return to the Velma Teague Branch Library in Glendale AZ, where I kicked off their Authors at The Teague program three years ago. I even managed to get my commemorative mug home in one piece! (And I’m drinking tea from it as I write this.)

Andy and I spent a day driving round Long Island, chancing upon a little diner, Joni’s, which we later discovered was recommended as one of the best casual places to eat in Montauk. I explored the beach area around the lighthouse at Montauk Point and found that one of the vital scenes for the next Charlie Fox book will indeed work if I set it there. In fact, the lack of large areas of open sandy beach make it work out better than I’d actually planned. I even got all arty with stones.

Yeah, all-in-all, it was a fun trip.

And now we’re back, the work’s coming in, I’ve managed to dive straight into the new book and seem to be making reasonable progress, the UK weather’s behaving almost like summer (meaning they’ve announced the first hosepipe bans) and, stunningly enough, while we were away the local rabbit population did not treat our newly planted flowerbed as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

So, why am I feeling a bit flat? Maybe it’s got something to do with the chest infection I picked up somewhere on the journey. Don’t you just love a double dose of nine-and-a-half hours of recycled aeroplane air? I’m wheezing and coughing and haven’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep since we got back. (And, by the same token, neither has poor Andy!)

My own brilliantly plainspoken doctor is on holiday, but his stand-in told me on Monday “it’s a virus” which I suspect is medicine-man-speak for “we don’t know – go away” or something very similar.

So, I’m willing to accept any and all suggestions for pick-me-up remedies that you might have. In fact, I’m in need of them! Even just feel-good suggestions with no basis in medical fact. Just please bear in mind that I can’t have alcohol, or things will go downhill rapidly. (I know, I know, my inability to drink ought, by that fact alone, to preclude me from being a crime writer…)

This week’s Phrase of the Week is tarred with the same brush, which means to be part of a group sometimes unfairly regarded as all having the same faults and weaknesses. It comes from the farming practice of treating the sores of a flock of sheep. The sores were coated by a brush dipped in tar. The same brush would be used on all the infected animals, but never on a healthy one for fear of passing the infection on. Hence all infected sheep were tarred with the same brush. The mother of a friend of mine used to get this one somewhat muddled, and would often come out with this much-improved variation: “They’re all daubed with the same stick.”

29 thoughts on “All The Right Noises

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Thanks, Dusty. Whenever I hear ‘chicken soup’, though, it reminds me of the Larson Far Side cartoon, where a poorly chicken is sitting up in bed being offered a bowl of soup by another chicken, who’s saying, "Eat it – chicken soup is good for the ‘flu, and besides, it’s nobody we know…"

  2. Catherine

    Zoe my Dad swears by this….I think it’s revolting but hey everyone has different levels to what trips their feeling better mode. He has a tablespoon of olive oil with a little bit of sugar and he says this eases hacking coughs.Works for him.

    My version is to take olive leaf extract in the capsule form….either it actually supports the healing process or does no harm and helps me think I’m doing something positive. Either way I feel a bit better.

    Also an epsom salt bath sort of wipes me out further, and I sleep better. I make sure I drink a lot of water though or else I end up even more head achey….

    Your trip sounds wonderful. Also big congrats on that review in NY Times. Hope you feel better soon.

  3. billie

    Slice ginger very thin and put about a handful of slices into a pot with a mug’s worth of water. Put a bit extra water to allow for the boiling off – and boil the ginger for about 15 minutes. The longer you boil the stronger it gets.

    Add fresh lemon, and local honey if you can get it, to taste. I use a half lemon per mug, and a big tablespoon of honey.

    Four times a day or so. I actually love ginger tea, so it’s a fun remedy if you enjoy the taste.

    My Naturopath doc also told me once to find the "place" where the symptoms seemed to either slow way down or abate, and make sure I spent time in that place off and on all day long. For me, with a cough/cold, the sunshine seems to make everything stop for a while – so I try to sit in the sun for a half hour as many times in a day as I can. Some people find relief taking a hot shower, or lying flat, or bundled up, etc. You have to find what works for you and then make sure you do that – it allows your body to rest and heal more quickly.

    Hope you feel better soon – your trip sounds wonderful!

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    A friend of mine swears that B-12 vitamins have given her a 100% boost in energy levels. I keep meaning to try it but haven’t had the energy to go to the grocery store.

    JUST KIDDING. I just keep forgetting. But maybe today.

    For the not-sleeping – Melatonin is a miracle, and no side effects.

    Hope you feel better, Z.

  5. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Catherine

    Olive oil and sugar? Hmm, are you sure your dad isn’t winding you up? Can I just stick to eating vast quantities of Kalamata olives instead?

    Someone else suggested an epsom salt bath, so I bought a large container from our local equestrian supply place. Works for achy muscles, too!

    Thanks for the congrats.

  6. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Billie

    Your ginger/honey/lemon juice recipe is what Andy normally brews up for me if I’ve got a stinking cold with a fever. I drink it last thing at night and climb into bed with as many layers on as I can stand. I normally find I’ve sweated through the worst of the illness by morning. (Sorry, that’s probably way TMI…)

    Find the place I feel most well and stay there? Erm, how about New York?

  7. Zoë Sharp

    Thanks, X

    I used to have the same problem with taking ginko biloba to improve my memory – I kept forgetting to take it…

    Normally, I don’t have any trouble sleeping. I can practically sleep standing up. But attempting to cough up a lung several times a night is proving a little distracting ;-]

  8. Eika

    If you’re coughing as in the coughing-stuff-up and not just coughing to cough, then I can help some.

    Inhaling steam loosens congestion in the nose, throat, and chest. Get a bowl of boiling water, lean over it, and put a towel over your head so you’re essentially breathing nothing but steam. Try to breathe in and out using both mouth and nose, though if the nose is too clogged to use at first wait until it’s started clearing out a bit. Do your best to stay there for 5-10 mins; you can remove your head for five seconds or so to wipe your nose or cough something up.

    It’s disgusting, and absolute murder if it’s hot out already, but it works really well.

  9. Grete Evans

    I’ve just gotten over a viral chest thing myself so you have my utmost sympathy! I went through packets and packets of Soothers (the best ones were cherry or blackcurrant). Used to suck one just before I went to sleep too and that seemed to help. Hope you get better soon!

  10. pari noskin taichert

    Down here in NM, we resort to green chiles (sometimes red) for just about anything respiratory — the hotter the better. The chiles have an incredible amount of vitamin C

    We’re all about sweating these things out. If you can’t find chiles, a spot of cayenne in your hot honey/lemon water might help.

    . . . and no, I’m not a sadist <g>, the heat really does help clear out the crud.

  11. Zoë Sharp

    "Another day at the firing range ought to do the trick."

    Oh, Stephen, I’m with you there. The only trouble is, the gun range is about a 10,000-mile round trip from home, and that would involve even longer on aeroplanes, dammit!

  12. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Eika

    I’ve used the bowl of hot water trick when I’ve been really congested, but this is one of those annoying ones where I sound like I’ve got a proper death-rattle cough, but my head is clear.

    Good job too – Andy had a head cold during the flight from New Orleans to Long Island, which involved touching down in Orlando, and the pain of not being able to clear his ears during ascent and descent was such that we worried he’d permanently damaged his hearing.

  13. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Grete

    I’ve resorted to Soothers/Lockets etc in the past in an attempt to stop myself coughing until I pass out, but I’ve now found that a throat spray like Chloraseptic works best in an emergency – and it doesn’t make my tongue go numb!

  14. toni mcgee causey

    We absolutely loved having you and Andy–we’re already making plans for new guns for when you come back. 😉 (Well, Carl insists that he needs new ones for that occasion. I suspect I’m being rooked, but there ya go.)

    Add equal parts baking soda to that epsom salts for the best effect. There’s something about the combination which really does the trick better than just epson salts alone. (I’ve tried it both ways.)

    I now swear by Airborne which Allison made me start taking on one trip after I’d gotten so sick. It’s a great way to stave off… but after the fact, mostly it’s just rest. And studies have shown that a hot toddy (whiskey, honey, lemon) does as much good as cough syrup w/codeine, and it’s a lot more fun to take.

    Hope you’re both better soon!

  15. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Toni

    Ah – I remember, it was you who told me about the epsom salts/baking soda bath thingy.

    Can’t do the whiskey/whisky thing, unfortunately, not without spectacularly unpleasant results. But I’ll certainly look up the Airborne stuff for next time.

    We had a ball, too. Tell Carl we haven’t yet fully explored his existing firearms collection, but of course, if he REALLY feels the need to expand it… ;-]

  16. Judy Wirzberger

    Well, looks like you have all the cures except holding your head under water for 20 minutes – Solves all your writing problems, and your yucky lungs, but we would miss you. Just starting Charlieeeeee Fox. Hooray so far. Judeeeee

  17. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Judeee

    Aw, and I thought you liked me ;-[

    I’d never win any free-diving competitions, though – my lungs don’t full at full capacity even at the best of times!

    Hope you enjoy the book.

  18. Catherine

    Dad is a bit of terror. I’d agree with you about the wind up…he’s fully capable of it….just not sure if even he would go that far for the last twenty years he’s been demonstrating how effective it is. If nothing else it cures me of telling him I’m feeling crook.

    I’ll try to remember the bi carb and epsom salts combo. Thanks Toni.

    Also the other side benefit of ginger is it eases a queasy tummy too. I concur strongly ginger is good stuff.

    I’m sure the germs that breed and mingle in aeroplane cabins are particularly vile. You do have my sympathy.

  19. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Allison

    Yeah, we had a ball.

    I was a bit wary of the big black bugs, I have to admit. I only had a wide-angle lens on the camera – why do you think I wasn’t brave enough to do a close-up?

  20. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Catherine

    Is your dad the kind of guy who used to tell you that when the ice cream van is playing music, it means they’ve run out of ice cream…?

    I’m with you on the ginger – ginger biscuits (cookies) are a good choice for anyone feeling a bit duff.


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