Sick Again

Seasonal tradition – the pre-festive flu


Body aching like I’ve been thrown several times against a wall. Head hurting like it’s been clamped firmly in a vice, and someone is still turning the screw and I’m coughing like an old tramp nurtured on full tar cigarettes and left out for several days in the rain.

« Can’t give you any antibiotics » says the doctor,

« Just stay home in the warm. Take plenty paracetemol and above all, do nothing. »

And with a flourish of his drug company-sponsored pen, the doc signs off « Here you are » he announces and with a big beaming smile he pushes a form a across the desk

« What’s this? »

« A médical certificate for a week’s sick leave. Doctor’s orders, stay home for a week and do nothing. »

« Nothing ! »

Yes, those are the doctor’s orders – nothing.

Now, there are some people I know who would simply ignore médical advice, and, even with a médical certificate, would crawl into work and work, just to prove to everyone else, that what they do is so important, that no one can do without them, and it is thanks to such « heroics » that a everyone else gets sick.

I am going to firmly follow doctor’s orders

YES you’re ill. You’ve got flu or something nastier and though you are not going to die, you certainly feel in a state close to mortal demise.

Get it into your head that you won’t be fit for work

Doctor’s orders – DO NOTHING.

And that is exactly what I do for a week. I do nothing.

I head home, a shivering wreck. I pop a fistful of paracetemol, pull on a grotty old tracksuit, fill a hot water bottle and then wrap myself in a huge duvet and settle down in front of the TV for a week of nothing.

Yep folks – I’ve spent all week watching TV

The news channels, the soap channels, the shopping channels, the kids’ channels, the vintage re-run channels, the religious channels, the crafting channels.

I’ve watched watched North Korean Missiles tests with non stop beaming faced images of « Rocket man ». I’ve seen Laura Ingells comes to blows with Nelly Olsen, I’ve cruised on the Love Boat, I’ve solved murders with Angela Landsbury, I’ve been to Southfork and back via Falcon’s Crest. I’ve learned how to make « lovely » Christmas décorations and « scrapbooking-style » Christmas cards. I’ve learned how to cook the perfect turkey. I’ve drooled over everything from hot rocks and cool diamonds on the jewelery channel to power vacuums, slow cookers, fitness machines and stairlifts on the shopping channels. I’ve watched Christians, Moslems, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs all ranting their rants – I’ve had calls to prayer, calls ro reason and advice to bring me closer to God.

And in-between the programs – commercial and more commercials with slippers, surgical stockings, death insurance, more bloody chairlifts, exercise aids for the elderly, Christmas chocolates and incontinence pants and checks for colon cancer and urinary probems for older men

AAAAAGH – If I were old. I’m only 52 and in every bloody ad or programme or propoganda slot for the « elderly » it is echoed and re-echoed «NOW YOU ARE OVER 50 … »

Yes I must accept that at 50 you turn into a gibbering, slobbering, incontinet, piss stinking, disabled, semi senile , pyjama-wearing, slipper shuffling wreck. AAAAAAAGH.

Oh Thank God, I’ve found Boomerang TV on the satellite – re-runs of the original Hanna Barbera cartoons – Scooby Doo, Flintstones, The Jetsons …

Hey, If advertisers think I should be senile at 50, might as well watch some kids TV.

What I have loved about this week in the Twilight TV sickness world – all the mid morning ménopause unf*** your f****d-up life TV –

Forgotten second rate stars back from the grave with a book to sell and a career to relaunch.

The youngish, late fortysomething replastified bimbo looks caringly and meaningfully into the UV gaze of the late sixtysomething soap survivor –

« Tell me how did …


breast cancer

the loss of your pet dog


Drug addiction


Sexual breakdown


affect your life ? »

« And what is the subject of your new book ? »


And in this week of TV watching, I have loved all these heart-tugging broken family shows – like Jeremy Kyle

Get a mid morning TV slot, when all the world’s misfits are just rolling out of bed, and wheel some obese, loud-mouthed, no-brain, white trash dysfuntional families into the studio, get them screaming at each other, and you’ve got one shit hot TV show.

The Usual stuff :

Mother sleeps with daughter’s boyfriend a few weeks away from the wedding.

Husband-to-be is sleeping with his fiancé’s sister.

Father-in-law having a fling with his future daughter-in-law.

And after a venomous slanging match it all ends in tears and a big hug.

When I hear people at work reeling off about their perfect lives and their perfect kids, I always feel that I have kind of failed somewhere in my life, but it takes a week of watching Daytime TV to show me otherwise – aspiring and subscribing to the dreams, hopes and fears of the stay-at-homes – for whatever reason people have to stay home.

It takes all sorts to make up a world, and we all need some kind of place in this crazy world.

Back to work tomorrow – fighting fit and one thing is for sure – the first thing someoneis going to say « Did you enjoy your holiday ? »






Sickness as a Strategy in the Workplace.

Gastric flu – Yuck – all the symptoms of flu and a tummy doing somersaults when I even think of food. At home on sick leave when I should be at work, because I went to work and caught this crappy condition from a colleague who should have been at home on sick leave.

“I had to come in,” he croaked at me on Friday last: “I’ve got an important meeting about our new project and seeing as I am team leader …”

I know. You are so important and indispensable that you can’t be sick, or are you simply playing at “workplace heroics”. This who normally shine by their mediocrity suddenly take on a whole new aura when they are sick – just one knock off death’s  door, they crawl into work as if to say “Look at me. I’m sick, but I came in all the same. What a hero.”

No, you are not a hero, you are like that small lower body aperture where the dun don’t never shine. You are a walking biohazard, a repository of germs and you should be at home, rather than at work pissing everyone off by telling them how ill you are and also giving us your germs.

Yes, I hate the workplace “sick” heroes. They come in many different forms. There are those who come swathed in layers of warm clothing, popping pills and sniffing on nasal sprays. They sit and suffer in silence in a corner in full view of everyone – their aim, to gain the pity and benevolence of co-workers.  “Oh you look awful. You should never have come to work.” And later at the coffee machine – “Did you see so and so? He looks awful, but he still came to work.”  Oh how sweet.

The other sick hero? Well he or she I have already mentioned. When all around are dropping like flies, our sickie is at work telling everyone just how sick he (or she) really is, BUT “I am here all the same,” whilst in the same breath, roundly condemning all those who have decide to stay home and quietly die rather than crawling into work to die there.

Of course, sickness can be an excellent strategy to rid yourselves of those with whom you are not on best terms – call this the most basic form of germ warfare: your boss for example. There you are coughing and spluttering away like an old car, and you enter the boss’s office to say: “Hey I’m illl, but I’m here,” but also to spread a few germs, ensuring that your boss is on sick leave when you finally make it back to work – ah, a few days without your boss. The same strategy also works with vile colleagues.

Typically French – with the current gastric epidemic at work, there has been an internal memo telling us all to refrain from shaking hands with co-workers or kissing each other on the cheeks – standard daily forms of French greeting. You will pretty much shake hands with all your male and female colleagues. The kiss on the cheeks is reserved for female colleagues with whom you are on friendly terms. So what are we all doing?  Germ free High Fives, because in a recent report on health in the workplace, French doctors have discovered that the good old but ver unFrench  high five is the most hygienic way to greet colleagues whilst still maintaining some kind of physical contact.

So, one day off so far with gastric flu, but I didn’t manage to get to the doctor’s and I will need a sick note from a doctor to justify my one day absence – yes, this is France and even one day of sick leave needs a medical certificate – no doctor’s note, no pay. Ah for the UK where you can have up to three days “self-assessed” sick leave before having to consult a doctor.