Now naturally blonde as I am I have skin that refuses to tan. My blonde hair is coupled with the freckliest skin you've ever laid eyes on. So as we're relaxing in the garden my friends are tanning beautifully I'm cursing my mothers side for the Strawberry Blonde hair and my fathers side for the freckly ginger skin.
After a couple of hours of laying about' they look like they're part of the Jackson Five and I look like Michael circa 1997, they go home. Much as I love them I actually hate their ability to tan so easily.
I go back inside and remember than Joe, my 19 year old has a little pot of 'tan accelerant' in one of the kitchen cupboards. I move things about a bit and find it. If I didn't already know what it was I'd be a bit worried. It's it in a tiny pot and looks like it might be ready to inseminate something, however I know what it is so I'm comfortable with it.
There's a crudely written sticker on the side that says 'Tingle Cream' I have a cursory sniff and it smells OK so I take a lovely big dollop from the pot and rub it all over my chest and arms. I feel a bit of a tingle which I take to be a good sign that the cream is going to do it's job. I'm heading back out to the garden enjoying the tingly feeling the cream has given me when I catch sight of my horribly pasty face in the mirror. Now much as I enjoy being pale and interesting I think it wouldn't harm me to have a bit of colour, facially, you know.
With this in mind I take another big dollop from the pot of tingle cream and slather it all over my face. I'm in the kitchen at this point with the intention of going back into the garden to relax and tan. The chance of me getting anywhere near the garden diminishes by the second as my eyes start to swell shut. I'm in the kitchen, in the house I've lived in for 11 years yet suddenly I can't see enough to get out.
MY EYES ARE SO SWOLLEN I CAN'T SEE
I CAN'T SWALLOW PROPERLY
MY TONGUE IS MASSIVE
I find my phone and jab at the touch screen hoping I'm ringing someone who can help me. Apparently the Co-op bank can give me an emergency overdraft if I press 1. I'm tempted but there's the fact that I can no longer properly breathe (I do consider pressing 1 so Phil can bury me in a vintage Westwood dress) I have another stab at my keypad and get Domino's Pizza this time. They ask if they can help me and I gurgle back at them. They say 'Hello' I say ' Nrggghhhhh' They hang up. Much as I'm probably dying from a massive allergic reaction I'm mildly irritated that they didn't enquire what base I required.
THEN SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENS
My parents pull up outside with Syd in the car. I dash outside, much as you can when your head is 3 times it's normal size and ask them to take me to the hospital. My mother looks irritated because at this point she's had to put up with 40 years of me being over dramatic/utterly ridiculous. I try to tell them I need to go to hospital but because my tongue is massive and I'm practically choking on it I can't make them understand. What follows is basically a life threatening game of charades. You should try to mime the word hospital when every part of you, from the neck up, is swelling up.
Eventually they get what I'm saying.
- LERGIC RACTION
- AM THOKING
We finally get to the hospital, I get inside and try to tell the receptionist I'm having some kind of allergic reaction. She asks me my name and I just slobber all over her desk (you want to try and say JOOLS ASPINALL when your tongue is so massive that it's hanging out of your mouth) She is obviously trained in dealing with 40 year old women with enormous swollen heads and big flobbery tongues because she presses a bell and 400 nurses appear and dash me to 'resuss'. (At this point I'm convinced Charlie Fairhead and Duffy are going to appear. Sadly they don't).
Once I'm in resuss they put an oxygen mask on me and cannula's in both hands while asking me what happened. Are they kidding me? I can't see properly because my eyes are swollen shut, I've got a big oxygen mask strapped to my enormous head and my massive tongue is lolling out of my mouth like a dead slug!
I try to tell them I used tingle cream on my face to help me get a tan. This is actually what I say:
Hff ooosed inglreem onmafay fotann ammginger avfrecks
Surprisingly they have no idea what I'm saying. I actually said it and even I'd struggle to understand it.
Then they start to put stuff into the cannula's which seems to help. I can see again but my tongue is still huge. The doctor who is stood next to me starts talking to the nurse on the other side of me. He's saying that if this doesn't work they'll 'put me under and ventilate me'. I'm outraged at this! Shouldn't someone ask me. I try to tell them that I don't agree to this course of action and it comes out like 'Unt venthilay meef am fyn ow'
I'm actually surprised they didn't give me a lobotomy at this point.
Thankfully whatever they'd put into the cannula's on my hands started to work and my tongue returned to more of a normal size. I was relaxing on the bed in resuss when they finally let Phil come in. I was so pleased to see him and expected him to feel the same.
He took one look at my massively swollen head and said
'Hello John Merrick, I'm looking for my wife Jools'