Celtic Illumination, part 398, Cura te ipsum.
It was dark when I finally chose a service area on the motorway to pull in and refuel. I had half-heartedly played the old, ‘Will I, won’t I?’ game with my remaining fuel and the distance to the next petrol station. All I needed was one of those petrol pumps that accepted your payment card, which of course I now discovered did not exist at this particular service area. I rolled up to the petrol pump, closest to the door to the shop and payment station, and, holding on to the car, filled her up. There was nothing else I could do but take a deep breath and head for the payment desk. The gentleman, manning the desk, a bloody foreigner like myself, was quite surprised to see me collapse against the counter and do the only thing I could, which was to raise my right hand, the international symbol for, “Please give me a second to get my breath back.”
I was quite surprised at how exhausted I was over what had to be a fifty yard stroll. I handed over my payment card and couldn’t have cared less about how much I was being charged as my main worry was if I could actually make it back to the car. I knew that if I fell over I wasn’t getting back up and the chance of me falling over was quite high. The old military mentality took over and I knew my only option was to get the proverbial chin stuck up in the air, ignore any pain and march my way back to the car. Or as Debrett’s guide states; ‘Hold your head high, keep your back straight and pull your shoulders back. Tread lightly (no clumping, thundering footsteps), and don’t drag your feet or shuffle.’ Shuffle? Moi? With the loveliest legs in all of Ireland? How dare they even suggest such a thing.
I glanced about to see if there were any barriers or units that I could use for support but there wasn’t, I would have to walk past row upon row of chocolate bars which I knew would end up all over the floor if I reached out for support. I got to the main door and as it was one of these automatic fellows couldn’t use it for support, so continued on out praying that I could make it to the car, which I did. I opened the driver’s door and fell onto the seat, where I sat for a good ten minutes, arse on the seat, left elbow on the passenger seat and legs stretched out through the open driver’s door across the forecourt.
At least I had a full tank of fuel which would see me home. I didn’t worry too much that I had to actually lift my legs in to the car and place them on the pedals. It was quite sore shifting up through the gears and bringing the car back up to cruising speed, despite the fact that most of my journey had been restricted due to fecking roadwork’s, I was really glad that I had not taken either of the county routes. A normal person may have worried about the physical state I found myself in but as a Good Ol Boy I knew that my Man Flu was probably at or around its peak. A couple of days rest would soon see me back to my old form, so arriving home, incident free, I made my way to the front room and the settee and stretched out. Once again if someone would like to check with Debrett’s, social guide for idiots, wannabes and pretentious drongo’s, you can tell me if I was in my front room, my lounge, sitting room or parlour and of course If I was on the settee or couch. Being posh isn’t half difficult at times.
So that really was it, I had completed the journey relatively incident free and was now safely back at home. I still had the promise to contact the medics to deal with, which had two escape clauses in for me, one, I hadn’t promised exactly when I might contact the medics and two, I hadn’t promised what flavour of medic I might contact, although phoning my dentist might be stretching my luck a wee bit too far. Sunday was bliss; in fact man heaven might be closer to the truth. I wasn’t out of breath, basically because I didn’t walk anywhere. I didn’t throw up, because I didn’t eat anything, and nobody told me I looked like I was at death’s door, as I didn’t see anyone, so under the rules of Man Flu I was getting better, if not completely healed. This would encourage me to think of the old expression, ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ which some of you will know is a sort of double edged sword type of thing, which we haven’t the time or space to go in to here.
So it was nine o clock on Monday morning and I found myself telephoning the medics. It was like one of those out of body experiences where I was floating around the living room watching myself. I could only think back to Saundersfoot in South Welsh Wales when Susan, the sister, sat beside me and asked me to promise that I would contact the medics. She was holding my hand, pretending that she cared, and I am sure she stuck a needle in my hand, so I understood that I was not breaking any of the rules associated with Man Flu or dealing with Man Flu, and that I was subject to black magic. I was under a spell, so accepted my fate. I explained to the receptionist that I needed the practise nurse to come out and visit me at home. This of course prompted all sorts of question as to why they should visit me! If I was ill I should visit them, it was as the temptation to slam the telephone back on to the receiver began to grow that I, counted to ten very quickly, and then explained I couldn’t walk, was constantly throwing up and was expected to die within the following day or two by anyone who seen me that they agreed to send the practise nurse over to see me.
I had fulfilled my promise, despite the use of black magic, and hoped my medical appointment would satisfy her who must be obeyed, especially as the appointment was eight days away, I also needed to keep myself alive for eight days so they wouldn’t have wasted their time coming out to see me. Spending a week on the settee when Irene was away was quite a normal occurrence for me as I remembered that the previous year I had put my back out and really couldn’t move for the whole five days. I know the more observant amongst you are now reaching for you writing pads as five days does not equal one week and you all feel a need to point this out to me. Well; I know five days does not make a week, not all the time. On the first day I have to drive to South Welsh Wales, and return home. Add five, and guess what happens on the seventh day? Go on I dare you. That’s right I have to go back to South Welsh Wales.
The theory that resting for five days would build up my batteries and allow me some relief for the return journey didn’t really work as after ten minutes in to the drive I was exhausted. However as it was Man Flu I took the appropriate action by opening the window and turning the music up. I’m a great believer in pain diversion which is a theory I suppose I am going to have to explain to some of you lot. We used it in the military a lot so let me warn you now in order to use these methods you got to be pretty tough and a little stupid, well; perhaps more than a little. Say for example you cut a finger off your left hand, it’s sore. Well; you punch a wall with your right so you now concentrate on your sore right hand while the left hand doesn’t hurt at all, or much. All you do now is find the missing digit, put it in a bag of frozen peas and take it to the hospital where the medics will sew it back on.
The only drawbacks with these advanced medical approaches is that there’s usually not many freezers lying about on battlefields, especially with frozen peas in, and if you hit the wall too hard with your right hand sometimes you are unable to hold the fecking peas. That’s if you can find any. However, on the whole, the theory of pain diversion is sound and I was using it to its full extent on my drive down. You see pretending to be nice to me I had been invited down to Saundersfoot to spend the Friday night, rest up and drive back on the Saturday. You are all probably thinking what a nice bunch of people my wife, her sisters and my mother in law are to actually care so much for me. If they cared so much for me they wouldn’t have asked me to drive at all so I was thinking more along the lines of The Wicker Man and as Man flu gave an impression of being close to death that they would use this as an excuse to cover my eventual incineration.
Once again I had come down through the centre of Welsh Wales. It was a lovely drive and very, very, safe as I wore shoes. It was very like Ireland, well; parts of Wales were like parts pf Ireland and therefore the journey was lovely and comfortable, which was more than I was. Despite the week on the couch I was suffering which I put down to a severe relapse of Man flu. I arrived at the house in Saundersfoot and as I couldn’t see a wicker man in the rear garden knew they had probably erected it on the beach, which made sense, as all the evidence would be washed away at high tide. Everyone told me how ill I looked and offerings of food were placed before me. I was told that the sausages were local and handmade, which pleased me greatly as I hate sausages made by someone’s feet. I knew the sausages would contain some form of drug that would placate me as they marched me in to the wicker man and offered me to their God.