In a typical year, almost 94% of pensioners will succumb to the common cold, with more than 228,000 being admitted to hospital as a result of consequent respiratory problems, overdosing on Lemsip and swallowing handkerchiefs.

Despite pioneering work at Porton Down in the 1950s, a cure for the common cold has never been found, though the extensive research programme did make a significant contribution to the development of several nerve agents and weapons grade toxins which the UK was able to sell to numerous Middle-East dictators.

Folk remedies for the common cold include putting an onion in a sock and tying it around your neck, filling your nose with mushroom compost and hanging a Glastonbury sneeze-catcher above your bed – and although none of these have been shown to be effective, they do provide practical uses for old socks, improve germination of the rare nasal dahlia and offer discounted admission prices for exhibitions of hippie memorabilia.

The common cold is rarely fatal, but can lead to more serious side effects such as unexpected wattling of the throat (cold turkey), increased timidity (cold feet) and decapitating pets with dentures ejected at force during violent sneezing.