Thursday, 10 January 2013

Man Flu

Fantasy Bob returned with all limbs in full working order from his most enjoyable New Year ski-ing trip to the Austrian Alps.  But back in Edinburgh he was immediately laid low by some dastardly cold bug or other that is doing the rounds at this time of year.  This one was Mach 10 on the virulence scale, which is about one point off bubonic plague.

 FB would like to think that he is as stoical in the face of such an assault on his body's defences as he is in his tussles with leg spin bowling.  In fact in many respects he may well prefer a heavy cold to facing such virulent bowling, but that is another issue. As his head thickens and his throat rasps and his nose runs, FB will take to bed and demand nothing more of his nursemaid - known to his handful of faithful readers as Mrs FB - than regular cups of tea and/or Lemsip.

It is therefore with some incredulity that he heard himself being accused of having gone down with man flu.  A condition that is evidently one of the scourges of the age, although medical opinion remains divided as to its existence.

 It was apparently a survey of readers of the esteemed scientific publication Nuts which put the term into popular use, suggesting that men are prone to exaggerate the impacts of a common cold describing it as flu and themselves at death's door as a result.  The condition can only truly be called man flu when the sufferer in question has a partner from whom they hope to solicit extra attention to care for their supposedly grievous symptoms. When the sufferer is alone then the condition can only be the common cold. But other experts suggest that women can be just as prone to exaggeration.

If it wasn't man flu then, what could have laid FB so low?  An emminent medical authority had suggested that FB's immune system may have been compromised by a prolonged abstinence from empire biscuits over his Austrian sojourn.  This authority suggested that whatever the qualities of strudel or sachertorte they are not so therapeutic as the empire biscuit.

This is a compelling theory and one which FB might have shared until this year.  For this year he discovered one of the great  pieces of cross cultural stimulation.  Just as Beethoven was enamoured of Scottish music and arranged several sets of tunes, so Austrian and Scottish bakers have enjoyed the same stimulus.  The Austrian empire biscuit as pictured below is a fine example.  Enough to keep the man flu off! For those interested in the technicalities the filling is cranberry, they have given up on the jelly tot and white icing in favour of 3 holes but the concept is the same.

Austro Hungarian Empire biscuit -
for those interested in the technicalities the filling is cranberry,
the jelly tot and white icing have been replaced by 3 holes.
Experts are divided as to whether this is an improvement.


  1. Has the man flu affected the memory of the legendary quiz guru? Was it not he who told us that the Empire Biscuit was derived from the Linzertorte; and, indeed, was known as the German Biscuit until the First World War?

    In that case, the existence of another descendant of the Linzertorte in Austria is not surprising; and is not evidence of any Scottish influence.

    1. FB's memory is unimpaired but, in accordance with contemporary standards in the media, he didn't want this factual background to interfere with a good story. He is greatly flattered that you have committed his previous observations on this subject to memory.

    2. Glad to hear FB's memory has survived intact.