The Poor, Brave Soldier

The Poor, Brave Soldier

The wife when I was hallucinating…

That’s how it starts. The sudden need for your wife to soothe your brow and call you her ‘poor, brave soldier.’

Technically, it starts with the ominous shivering. “I just can’t get warm today,” I said last Saturday lunchtime. And three hours later I wrapped myself in my dressing gown, crawled into bed and pulled an extra blanket over me. Then I asked – very weakly – for another blanket.

But when the shivers and shakes start, nothing keeps you warm.

“Maybe I’ve eaten something,” I whispered. “I’ll be OK tomorrow.”

“Good,” my wife said, “Because Ben says he’s bringing Chloe round.”

What? He was finally bringing her round? No way could I meet her in this state. I had to get better…

“When’s he going for her?” I asked Jane on Sunday afternoon.

“Half an hour.”

Right. Time for action. I walked unsteadily to the bathroom. Foolishly, I looked in the mirror. My eyes were sunken, I had three days of grey stubble and running sweaty fingers through my hair had turned it into a Mohican. I’ve looked more attractive…

‘I’ll just wait for the bathroom to stop spinning,’ I thought. ‘Then I’ll go in the shower.’

And then, mercifully, I found my sensible head. And went back to bed.

Eventually Jane came to check on me. “When’s she coming?”

“She’s been. They’ve gone to the pictures.” Had I been out for the whole afternoon? Quite clearly.

“What’s she like?”

But suddenly even Ben’s first girlfriend couldn’t hold my attention. Armageddon had arrived.

I made it to the bathroom. Just. And life settled down into a nice, regular rhythm…

Collapse on the toilet. Empty bowels. Stagger back to feet. Feel dizzy. Lean over the bath. Vomit. Collapse back on the toilet. Thank God that’s over. What? There’s still something left inside me? I haven’t got rid of my spleen yet? Well, let’s heave it into the bath. Collapse back on the toilet…

What was this? A bug? Gastric flu? Food poisoning?

I’ve only had food poisoning once in my life – when my first wife made ‘Crab Surprise.’ Crab Assassin would have been a better name. And like all good assassins, it was swift and lethal. The toxins came, eviscerated me and were gone within 24 hours.

But this was different. By Tuesday I was still staggering to the toilet. For the first time in my life I’d had hallucinations, thanks to epic dehydration. And yes, my wife leant over the bed, dabbed my forehead with a damp flannel and called me her ‘poor, brave soldier.’ That can’t possibly have been a hallucination…

I finally staggered back into the world on Wednesday. The only solid food I’d kept inside me since Saturday was a banana. I stepped onto the scales. Yep, I’d turned into Flat Stanley. If anyone reading this is struggling to ‘drop a dress size for Christmas’ I may have a solution…

When I emerged back into the world I was washed out. Body completely empty. I’d drunk nothing but water for five days. I crawled down to the kitchen, passing two boxes of wine on the way. Disgusting stuff. Who’d ordered that? Well I wouldn’t be having any over Christmas…

Nope, nature had totally de-toxified me. I could have swanned off to Switzerland and paid thousands. I could have called in at that place I pass on my way to work: it offers colonic irrigation at 8:30 in the morning – an idea I’ve always found quite easy to resist…

But nature had done it for free. Cleaned out, detoxed, a new me. But I decided not to send the wine back. After all, Tom and Jessica were coming home…

My apologies for the late publication of the columns over the past few weeks: as you’ll see from the above, keeping the blog updated has been a long way down the list of priorities…

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