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When you feel like dying, but deadlines don’t die with you

I wrote this last year. Today is exactly one-year since I saw South Africa beat England to become the number one ranked Test team in the world at Lord’s. That was an immeasurably special experience. To have been there to cover the tour was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.  I learnt so many lessons in those few weeks.

During my first trip to England in 2012, I got very, very sick. I was reminiscing a bit (2012 was so much fun) and stumbled across this. I thought I’d give it a repost.  I first wrote it to get a bit of sympathy, I was feeling very sorry for myself. It was my second tour I’d been on and the second time I got really sick.

I want to repost it because even though a lot has changed since this, not a lot has changed. The thing with freelancing is, if you have a deadline, it’s there and it needs to be met. It’s not going to go away, even if you’re ill. I’ve cut my teeth in the past 12 months. I’ve learnt many things, I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve managed to write for publications I’ve only ever dreamed of writing for. But deadlines are still there, every day.

This is what happened last year at the start of August.

Just in case people think being on tour is all moonshine and roses, it’s not. When cricket journalists go on tour, they like to show off a lot. They talk about all the drinking and the pubs and the dinners and the grounds, the interviews and the funny press conferences. Those are great things. All of them, but there are also not so great things. Like when you get sick on tour.

This is my second “tour” as a “journalist” and it’s also my first big tour.

So, the tour decided to make me remember it for the rest of my life, by making me more sick than I have ever been in my entire life. It all started on the Wednesday before the Leeds Test.

I thought it was an adverse reaction to going oop North, but I was pretty much feeling like I’d swallowed one of those things which used to shape women’s backsides along with a volcano. I was cold, hot, feverish, clattering teeth. My body was like a conundrum of confusion and it was driven up to  Leeds in that state. The first thing I did when I got oop North was pissed in a cup. At 00:00 in the morning, I pissed in a cup in some random doctor room who made me pay 50 quid for the privilege of pissing in a cup. He told me I was sick and gave me some medication.

That night was hell. I couldn’t stop shaking, sweating, having a fever and delirium and as a result of the high fever, I couldn’t stop throwing up. Needless to say, it was not fun and it was not the ideal way to spend a day before a Test match.  The thing with this writing lark is, no matter how sick you are, deadlines aren’t just going to go away, not if you’re a freelancer who only gets paid when you work.

So, I dragged myself out of bed and all the way to Leeds on day one.   I spent most of the day asleep on my laptop, but I still wrote and filed what I needed to and managed to keep it vaguely coherent. The fever didn’t go away, the shaking didn’t go away, the delirium didn’t go away and now I had stomach cramps to go along with it too. My fever was 39 at regular intervals. I sweated like I was Graeme Smith batting in the subcontinent.

This fever and shaking and delirium continued and I continued writing until Sunday evening when I was just so delirious and tired from feeling shit that I told my editor I give up and I want to just sleep. My sister took my fever that night, her eyes stretched as wide as people’s eyes stretched when Kevin Pietersen took two wickets and she carted me off to hospital where I was prodded, poked, had blood taken and was made to piss in more cups and eventually told that I was actually really sick and had to be admitted to hospitall. I have never in my entire existence on this planet been in hospital for being sick. Ever.

I got out on Tuesday and the first thing I did when I got back was sat down and wrote 1000 words.

Tour is great. I wouldn’t trade this for anything, no matter what the price. Well, unless it’s not the price of paying for pissing in a cup.

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