Monday, May 14, 2007

Rape! Rape!

Oil seed rape, that is. Although judging by the tone of this article, you would be forgiven for thinking it was about a serious sexual assault.

"Peter Hallam had never suffered hay fever before but as soon as fields of oil seed rape planted near his home burst into bloom he had problems breathing and his eyes grew painfully swollen."

Suffering from both asthma and hay fever I get similar symptoms. As do probably thousands - if not millions - of people around the country. Difference is that we don't run to The Daily Hate to bellyache about it.

"The 60-year-old teacher packed his bags on doctor's orders and spent £700 to stay in a city hotel to escape the pungent yellow fields."

Job and age irrelevant to the story. I doubt the doctor ordered him to spend £700 on hotels. Any reason why he couldn't stay with relatives or friends? And it may be time to change doctors, because my doctor simply prescribes steroids and anti-histamines to combat hay fever and asthma symptoms. Rather than ordering me to flee.

On his symptoms Hallam states:

"I became very allergic to it, my eyes swelled up. I had difficulty breathing, I was unable to see because my eyes were bunged up and they became terribly irritated. I wanted to scratch them all the time."

Again, very much like hay fever and asthma. That many, many, many people suffer from but endure and get on with things without bellyaching in a tabloid rag. But he goes on:

"It was the last resort. I had to stop work and go away. It was fairly drastic. It took at least 24 hours for it to settle down to a reasonable level. Jennifer had to go home to look after the dog so I was on my own. It was miserable. I didn't feel right. I felt like one eye was looking one way and the other was looking the other. I was holed up for five days. It wasn't a particularly nice experience and was quite expensive too."

Self-pitying crap. And again, you chose where to stay, Mr Hallam. And it will be expensive if you stay at £140 a day hotel.

But it is not just the self-pitying crap that riles me. There is an unpleasant undertone to all this - that there is someone to blame, and the farmers are committing some sort of crime or sin by planting oil seed rape. Ms King, Hallam's partner, says:

"It raises the question, is this happening across the land? A lot of people we have spoken to have said the oil seed rape is affecting them. I do think there are potentially hundreds of people suffering because of oil seed rape."

Again, hay fever is common. But a few hundred people is next to nothing in a population of 60 billion.

"I know it has terrific properties and is a great money spinner perhaps that why we are seeing so much more of it."

Quite. And in view of the "terrific properties" I am prepared to endure your husband's and - when I go into the countryside - my own symptoms. Plus, by Hallam's own admission, the doctor cannot prove that there is a link between the oil seed rape and his allergies.

"There needs to be a study on how it affects people's health. We are surrounded by it here, it is all around us and there is nothing we can do to escape it."

Except your husband did escape it...

"Had we have known he would be affected like this we probably wouldn't have chosen to live here but we cannot move now, it's not easy to move now."

Why is not easy to move? Put the house on the market and see what happens. But FYI - if you bellyache too much about the surrounding area, you might put people off. I realise this should be immediately fucking obvious to all but the terminally dense, but these people do seem stunned to find out that hay fever exists.

In summary - Hallam - get over yourself and shut up. Take some anti-histamines, get on with your life, and shut up. Or move house and shut up. But the emphasis is very much on you shutting up.

And to The Daily Mail - you actually call a man suffering from bad hay fever news?

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