Yesterday’s low point was the shock news that The Boy has foot and mouth disease. I had already put down a disinfectant foot bath for visitors to the house, and was on the internet trying to track down a captive bolt gun and some old railway sleepers for the pyre when Mrs H burst into my office with the inevitable print-out from www.patient.co.uk, on which she had made big red ticks against each of the symptoms it described.
The good news was that he has actually got hand, foot and mouth disease, a usually mild viral infection, so he won’t need to be put down after all. Mind you, the same could probably be said of those pet goats cruelly snatched from tearful families during the last animal outbreak. Just as well, I think, that the human version falls under the purview of the Department of Health (or whatever it is called this week) rather than DEFRA.
The Boy wasn’t particularly jolly company at the weekend, what with his teething waking him up screaming in the early hours, and the doctor did say when we consulted her on Monday that he also appeared to be suffering from an infection, probably of a viral nature (the great GP get-out: we don’t know what it is, but no matter because there is nothing we can do to treat it anyway). But it took that fine old stand-by of wifeys’ gossip in the office to pin down exactly what it was. The nursery where he no doubt contracted it rather sheepishly admitted that there seemed to be a lot of it about.
|Just like the Start-Rite shoes kids: the invalid takes some fresh air at the weekend|
|Not necessarily completely under control|
Today’s high point was 21,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes, where lightly equipped climber Joe Simpson had his famous near-death experience after breaking his leg in a fall and later being left for dead when his partner cut their rope after Joe had plunged into a huge crevasse. His talk about the ordeal was completely spellbinding, and the responses to subsequent questions revealing. Had it brought him closer to God? No, he still thought religion was complete bollocks. Though sadly he failed to provide a definitive answer to the most important issue for the ladies present, “If I get lost up a mountain for five days, will I DEFINITELY lose two stone?”
He also reminded us that humans cannot remember pain, which is the only reason we do not all have one-child families. I noticed that Mrs H gave me a disturbingly meaningful look at this point. Though I dispute his thesis because I distinctly remember being kicked in the bollocks once at school, and the fact that it hurt like hell. I have taken great care ever since to ensure that it does not happen again. A chauvinist would no doubt deduce from this that being hoofed in the nads is considerably more painful than childbirth, an experience that most women seem positively eager to repeat.
Still, I learned one important lesson from the evening. I enjoy hill-walking, though I’ve clearly missed the point of it as the highlight for me is always the view from the summit and Joe Simpson assured us that getting to the top is actually an anticlimax. But I’ve never felt the urge to move onwards and upwards from the likes of the Cheviots and go mountaineering. Now it’s most definitely on the long list of things I’m not going to attempt between now and the grave, along with eating tripe, going waterskiing, making a pass at Anne Widdecombe, shouting racist abuse in the streets of South London and visiting Iran.