In sickness and in health…….

In sickness and in health……..


I cracked my mobile phone screen today……..


There are certain phrases in the English language that cause my face to lie: I smile on the outside and groan on the inside. It’s like how I react to puns, only the wrong way round.


Today there have been two such phrases:


“Dad!! I’ve finished”, yelled to me from the bathroom, was the first (I won’t explain: you either know or you don’t) and the other went like this,


“I’ll just keep my mobile by the bed in case I need you for anything” whispered to me by my “poorly” wife. I smiled sympathetically and barely suppressed the groan.

“I’m not going out, I’ll just be ……y’know downstairs?” I said

“I know, but I don’t want to shout – maybe I’ll text you if I need anything”

As it turned out there were quite a few things she ended up needing.

I’m suspicious – I can’t help it. In the build up to being “bed ridden” her performance was rather too credible for my liking. She’d perfected the oscar winning hacking cough, the plausible red rimmed runny nostrils, even the disorientated sleepy head routine and the depressed sigh were compelling. The shuffling mope from sofa to bed was persuasive, the shaky hand on the bannister, rather convincing. So what’s the problem James? She’s genuinely sick I hear you say, well maybe, maybe not. It’s not that I don’t feel compassion you understand, I am 90% compassion (10% cheekbones). It’s just that when it comes to “illness” I know WHAT I’M LIKE and have a hunch everyone else might be the same.


Because there is a gulf of difference between feeling “meh” and feeling I-can’t-get-out-of-bed-and-help-you-with-the-kids-today-ill isn’t there? There’s that Goldilocks band where you don’t feel too bad if your wearing your Beecham’s All-in-One and you’re under the duvet and can’t be expected to do anything other than relax. That’s my idea of a prescription – a lay in. Especially if you have a magical note from the doctor: then it’s a cast iron government authorised lay-in: break out the “NightNurse” and slip into that sweet green liquid coma baby!


Now I may be going out on a limb here but I suspect it’s an unspoken rule, an utterable truth that a chestful of snot is a license to abuse your other half: to exploit the fact that were they to call into question the sincerity of your infirmity they would reveal that they themselves know how the game is played, that they are, in fact, players of the game. A game where the rules are pretending not to know the rules. So today I just had to bite my tongue and have conversations like this


“You texted COME QUICKLY”

“I was thinking that maybe I should eat something, that might me make feel better?”

“It might”

“Perhaps just some toast, something I can eat in bed”

“Okay toast”

“But….perhaps toast might be a bit dry, what with my throat”

“Just bread then?”

“We’ve got that nice soup in the fridge, maybe a small bowl of that”

“A bowl of soup then”

“A small bowl of soup and a tiny sandwich. Cheese but not cheddar, use the nice brie”

“Fine. Anything else?”

(Epic Oscar winning “Hidden depths of suffering/Sigh/Whisper complete with back-of-hand to forehead flourish)


“I’ll text you”.


I smiled sweetly but for some reason the screen cracked on the mobile I was gripping.


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