Been poorly (119 days to go…)

by Max Akroyd

I’m writing in the fog of a cold. It came rolling in on Thursday and is still hanging around glumly at the start of the new month. I read somewhere that the difference between a cold and the ‘flu is the ability to chase a £50 note wafting in the breeze. Since – as a Yorkshireman – I would have to be clinically dead not to chase a bank note of any denomination, I will only ever have colds according to this definition!

Funny how the moment the propagators were full, the trenches dug and the wind turned all easterly and bitter that the opportunity to be poorly was taken. On a reluctant trip to town last week, I swung gracefully into a parking place between two other cars and hit one of them fair and square on the back end. What with all the fresh air and exercise, I hardly ever get ill these days so it took a few hours (and a few hundred euros) to work out that I had a fever.

As it is with many other ordinary things, my attitude to being poorly has changed somewhat since becoming a peasant. After a bit of token fretting about a beetroot bed I was meant to be preparing, I didn’t attempt to work through it. Recognising the privilege of my position, I surrendered. Like a poorly dog, I curled up and waited for the thing to pass. Emma fed the animals and I listened to the boys read their French library books. During the colder months I don’t see my school-going sons much more than any old 9 to 5-er, so this was fun for all of us. I noticed a change in the texture of their character not just arising from their fluency in the language. Two of my boys have turned French! And this means what once could have been done in other places, can now probably only be done here.

This small reconnection more than compensated for the small disconnection from nature caused by my absence over the last few days. For, when finally I emerged from under my stone yesterday evening, blinking eyes fixed on the ground, I noticed the turf was thicker. It’s a bit like losing your place in a good novel and finding yourself reading the wrong paragraph.

I could do with the announcement of a new month to intervene between January and February. I’m not quite ready for a real gardening month, one which isn’t largely an exercise in wishful thinking. It’s light here to 6:30 pm and everyone has one packet in their seed box which reads “sow from February…” Thus the side stream reaches the mainstream and we’ll flow out into the sea of the new season together. Well, once I get rid of this damn cold!