What is it about illness that makes me flit from being all sweet and helpless, to being a sarcastic monster? One minute, I'm all cute and small. "Please may I have a cup of tea? Thank you"... in a small, tiny voice, accompanied by as cute a look as I can muster, while I've got sore, red, piggy little eyes and vicks Vaporub stuck up my nose.
The next minute, my head starts to pound with inner mental RAGE and explodes! I don't mean literally explode like the alien in Men in Black, although that would be rather amusing in meetings. It would certainly liven up someone's boring powerpoint presentation. Imagine the scenario. It's slide 78 and everyone is wanting to die. Me, I just start to go slowly red in the face.
"Did you hear anything I said, mermaid? Are you deaf?"
Nothing. Just getting more and more red.
"What's wrong with your face?"
Nothing. Maybe a vein starts to bulge on my forehead. Perhaps even my ears would twitch. I'd like to think my eyelids would flicker menacingly.
"I said, "Did you hear me?""
My head explodes in a violent surge of slimy grey cells and nerve endings. There's a second's pause of utter horror and silence, followed by mass vomiting. If only I could be there to see it, except my eyeball will no doubt have been spattered across the trophy cabinet or impaled on the end of someone's pencil.
Sadly my head did not explode. It did not even go slightly red. All that happened was that I sneezed violently and coughed up the insides of my lungs in my sick bed.
So from being cute and helpless and ill, I have become a grumpy old woman and am in no mood to take prisoners. Some half-baked moron wanted to be my friend on Facebook. I don't know the chap, he just said he liked my picture. It might not even be my picture. I could have just one colossal eye. I could have no head. So anyway, he won't bother me again.
I also got a "sick form" to fill in when I returned. This is something the English tend do to but Europeans don't bother to do. I remember once at primary school, the school nurse Mrs Valentine (pronounced vallotin) was tending to a gash on my forehead where the ground had jumped up to hit me. I said mournfully (for I was a precocious 8-year-old who read far too much for her own good): "I must look like a sight for sore eyes." Instead of laughing and patting me endearingly on the shoulder, as I had expected, she said: "Gracious me! The child is vain as well as stupid! You should care about what you look like on the inside, not what you look like on the outside." And I was stupid, too. For I replied: "But nobody can see my inside" and promptly got sent off to stand outside the head's office for answering back.
Had I been a cute child, who looked pretty on the outside, no doubt I would have got a lollipop. But I was a scrawny wretch and spent the afternoon in the naughty room. I always called her Mrs Valentine after that. Deliberately.
Anyway, I got a sick form. It says: "Sickness absence form". It mentions the word "sick" four times. I fill it all in and when I get to the bottom, it says: "State briefly why you were unable to come in".
FOR THE LOVE OF MERCY!!! It's a sickness form!!
"I got arrested by the MOD for wearing a beard"
"I got soap stuck in my belly button and could not come out in the rain yesterday because I started to lather up"
"I fell asleep in Ikea and got locked in"
"I was involved in a drug bust in west london"
In the end, I opted for the simple reply:
I was sick.
Within 1/2 hour, I came back to my desk to find the form back on my keyboard, STAMPED with the word: "Rejected". I resubmitted it. It now reads:
I was sick. My head exploded and it took all day to clean up.