Sunday 16 August 2009


Sorry to harp on about this but I haven't been well since John and I returned home from Morocco at the beginning of July and not only is this really beginning to annoy me but I'm also wondering if I've actually got a new, unnamed virus.

It all started on the day of our return, when I got the squits, which has plagued me ever since, apart from, annoyingly, yesterday. I know I definitely had an ear infection (two lots of antibiotics) and then, hot on the heels came what my doctor pronounced as swine flu, although now I'm not so sure about that.

However, to be on the safe side, I isolated myself for a week, staying mostly in bed sleeping, which was actually quite pleasant, and spending about half an hour on my computer in the evening, which was a lovely distraction, plus re-watching The Wire Season One again, still marvelling at its brilliance.

Then, when I thought I was over the worse, I allowed myself the pleasure of crawling out of bed at noon, belting up the dog into the backseat of the car, driving to The King Alfred Pub on the outskirts of Winchester and parking in one of the few two hour free parking spaces in Winchester. (Since I wrote this bit, all the free parking spaces there have become 'verbotten' because road works are going on i.e. two blokes sitting in a large machine drinking tea and chatting - so that little treat is out for at least a week!)

Then I would take the dog for a brief walk (just in case he packed his bag and left the house in disgust because I wasn't giving him his essential walking rights); then have a hot chocolate in the pub's garden (the food is great there but the coffee is foul) plus a ciggie (don't even begin to lecture me about that - a girl's got to have some pleasures) and revising my character lists for my new novel.

Thus refreshed and re-energised and the dog back in the car (in the shade with the windows down in case you're going to have a go at me about that, too), walk the brief distance to River Park Leisure Centre, my swimming bag on my back, swim a pathetic ten lengths in the pool to prevent my muscles from seizing up, walk back to the car, go home and go back to bed. And for a while, this little routine worked well and I was feeling at least part way human.

But by last Friday, I had totally run out of steam, not only unable to do anything, not even a walk or a swim, but also having to recall John from work so he could drive me to my osteopath, Nick Harding, who is fantastic, for an appointment. So far so good until we got to Sainsbury's car park (Nick is based at the Surgery within the Sainsbury complex.)

And then I totally disgraced myself by weeping copiously, much to the consternation of passers-by, because my left shoulder and arm accidently received a hefty blow by the back of the passenger seat falling onto me (and I'm not going to say who was to blame for that; suffice it to say that it wasn't me) and it jolly well hurt.

Collapsed in a heap in the Surgery, again causing consternation, and only stopped weeping when I started to tell Nick about a radio play I had heard the day before.

The next morning, John took me to my doctor (yes, I allowed myself to get in the car with him again) where I said, rather pathetically to the doctor: 'help!'

My doctor was absolutely brilliant: prescribed another dose of antibotics for the gastroenteritis, took a large quantity of blood from me and gave me two two tubes for urine and the squits. I was to take them to hospital when the task was done and leave them in their out of hours box. On no account, though, was I to take the antibiotics until then.

No problem, I thought, anticipating the soon to be had relief gained from the antibiotics.


The peeing was fine - I could pee for England - but mysteriously, the squits had completely stopped. If I'd known that all I needed was to go to the toilet with a tube placed at the ready to stop the diarrhoea, I'd have tried it weeks ago.

I still had to wait in town for my prescription, thought, so I decided to use the opportunity to go to Boots (my very favourite shop) and use all the extra points and money off coupons before they expired.

Big mistake.

Whilst at the payout counter, I was so tired that I had to hang onto the rail and getting back to the car was agony. And no antibiotics that day, which at least gave me a chance to read the instructions carefully. I've never had this antibiotic before - Ciprofloxacin - and as well as the grim list of possible side effects, there were detailed instructions about what not to eat/drink unless you took the medicine one and a half hours before or at least four hours. So, just working out when was the best time to take these tablets was a major feat. It's like you now need a degree just to take medicine!

Success came on the Sunday, though, so now I could take the antibiotics using my dragonian timetable.

It's Monday today and already I'm beginning to feel better. Hopefully, the tests will reveal the cause/causes of this horrible malaise and I can build up enough strength for our famous Holiday in Italy in September, which is only three weeks away.

But something strange has happened during this time which could well be a new, as yet unnamed virus, which I am now going to name - The terrifying compulsion to tidy and clean virus.

Because, every time I ventured out of bed, I just had to systematically go through all my drawers and shelves in every room, sorting out what was to give away, what was to throw away and what was to keep. I would, have course, have to clean the drawer or shelf, too. And while I was dozing in bed, I would plan out what I would sort out next. It even reached a point when I had several tasks on the go at the same time, with little piles of books/magazines/cosmetics etc littered all over the place.


Lou was horrified when I told her I was writing this blog (believe me, it's a therapy for me because I hate waiting for the results of medical tests, just in case something really nasty crops up). 'Mother, you can't write about your tummy bug in such graphic detail,' she said.

Having felt compelled to do so, though, I'm wondering if I've actually got the unpolitically incorrect Jeremy Clarkson virus, going well beyond the bounds of civilised decency. However, there's one small flaw to that. I can't imagine Jeremy Clarkson has ever, in all his life, contemplated cleaning and tidying anything. And I bet he doesn't even wash/clean his own car/cars!

And I don't think there's a cure for either of these viruses - if they do actually exist. But if they do, I stake my claim to have them named The Maggie Virus.

But to finish on a positive note, a big plus during these last few weeks is that I have been listening to lots and lots of programmes on Radio 4. It really is the best radio station in the world and it's one of the multitiude of reasons to be proud of being British.

There really are some excellent programmes, although I have to admit that I tend to sleep through most of them, but that play I was telling Nick about was so wonderful that I actually cried (okay, not too difficult to do that to me at the moment but it was so beautifully moving).

The play in question was on Thursday 13th of August, at 2.15, called 'Dear Writer' by Jane Rogers and the starring the superb Anna Massey, whose voice is like a mature, smooth red wine.

Anna played a children's writer who was suffering from writer's block until she received a letter from a fan, pleading with her to write another book. And so a correspondence between the two developed. This young fan of hers, who was pretty unhappy about her family and her life, would tell Anna about various incidents in her life Anna started to weave them into a delicously descriptive and moving story.

But as the play progressed, I began to suspect that maybe the young girl was actually Anna's own inner thoughts and so the story started to take on a new depth. And the ending was just right - positive but in a very natural way. Brilliant.

If you wish to hear it, you can catch it on the BBC website until this Thursday. I'm certainly going to do that.

Plus, it's given me loads of ideas for my own writing, which I'm itching to start again.

P.S. I have come to a decision - to hell with agents and publishers. I'm going to post my novel on the web for free so it just needs John to set things up, unless by some miracle I can find a last minute publisher when I'm better. I'll let you know when it's available and then you can make up your own minds as to whether it's a great novel or a load of squits.

P.P.S. John has just posted my short story The Dog In The Pram next blog up.

P.P.P.S. The medical tests showed up nothing more benign than an infection - not pleasant but not life threatening.

Peace and good health to all of us.

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