I was sleeping fitfully, uncomfortably, in and out of dreams. A pulsating ache was clattering away inside my head. I couldn't just feel it, I could hear it. It sounded like a Volkswagen on a cold morning.
It wasn't a Volkswagen. It was a red Fordson tractor and it came over a hill in a paddock and it was pulling a scarifier and no-one was driving it, so it must have been a ghost tractor. Then it drove out of the paddock through a gate and it pulled the scarifier onto a smooth concrete road and down the road; and the tines of the scarifier made a noise like a million nails being drawn down a blackboard and my head almost exploded, but the tractor exploded first and the landscape was on fire and then I woke up and the only thing that was on fire was my throat, but the rest of me was ice.
After a long mild autumn, the harshness of winter comes as something of a shock, like wading out into a shallow bay and then stepping off the continental shelf into the abyss. The cold has only just arrived in the last couple of weeks, accompanied by an icy southerly wind that starts somewhere in the vicinity of Antarctica and picks up confidence, and more ice, as it crosses Macquarie Island.
The temperature in Melbourne doesn't tell the story. I used to go running with a bunch of friends and one of them was Canadian and she told me once that while Canada's winters were crisp, and its temperatures lower, nothing matched Melbourne for sheer bone-numbing chilliness when the wind lashed and whipped from the south and flung rain and hail in your face. Run along Beaconsfield Parade at 5.30 one June or July morning and you'll know what she meant.
To add to winter misery, everyone comes down with colds. We've succumbed. There's no cure for the common cold. Only interesting food and drinks to make it more bearable while you are recovering. Chicken soup. Chilli. Hot lemon juice. Did I mention drinks? Add a jigger of brandy. Or scotch. I heard red wine has antihistamines, whatever they are. It'll all help. Make it a large one. Cure yourself from the inside.
Then there's sage. Google sage and you'll find that it cures everything, which makes you wonder why so many people go to doctors.
Pork, leek and sage loaf. Easy, because you are too ill to cook complex recipes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine a kilogram of pork mince, half a kilo of sausage meat, three rashers of finely chopped bacon, a finely chopped or minced onion and two finely chopped cloves of garlic. Add a couple of dozen - optional - cracked white peppercorns. Salt.
Now add a cup of fresh breadcrumbs, a finely chopped medium leek and a teaspoonful of dried or fresh sage. Mix well.
In a jug or small mixing bowl, mix an egg through a cupful of tomato juice and then stir it through the meat mixture.
Grease a large or a couple of small loaf tins, and bake at a moderate 180 for ninety minutes. Check after 75 minutes, or 50 minutes if using two tins.
Line tins and top loaf with fresh sage leaves if you have any.
Eat hot for dinner tonight with mash of any kind. Eat cold for lunch tomorrow in sandwiches with shredded lettuce. (And particularly good when reheated and eaten in a bread roll with lashings of apple sauce.)