MAN’S WORLD: It’s all down to the bedside manners

“What sort of cough is it?” the nice lady in the chemist asked.

“Dry? Tickly? Chesty?”

“Irritating,” I replied, “Especially when I’m trying to sleep.”

Yep, my wife has flu and I’ve been banished to the spare room.

For “spare room” read Jessica’s room. And let’s hope the internet is down in the halls of residence. If she finds out her dad has been sleeping in her bed we’ll never see her again.

Goodness me, her room is cold. I have long realised that teenagers don’t feel the cold – how else can they go out on New Year’s Eve in just a t-shirt – but I’m not sure I realised how tough they are.

Or maybe it’s how weak I am.

Anyway for those of you fed up with your George Clooney fantasies I’m currently going to bed in pyjama bottoms, an old t-shirt and an even older rugby shirt.

Jane won’t be able to control herself when she’s better…

That’s assuming we’re still married of course.

Nothing puts our relationship under more stress than one of us being ill.

Well, nothing apart from decorating together. Or my inability to tidy up. Hang on, maybe this is an avenue I shouldn’t explore…

Anyway, as I was saying, when one of us is ill.

When I’m ill I like constant attention. A regular parade of visitors. Round the clock enquiries as to my health. Frequent mentions of how brave I am, of how well I’m coping with the insufferable agony. And of course, I need helping downstairs to the sofa as I may well be strong enough (just, obviously) to watch the football on TV.

Jane is exactly the opposite. Give her the Lucozade; give her the paracetamols; turn up with chicken soup twice a day and leave her to it. She’ll get better on her own and if she needs anything she’ll send a text.

And there’s the rub. When I’m ill Jane treats me like she wants to be treated.

When my wife is ill, I’m in and out every 10 minutes telling her what a brave little soldier she is. I won’t share the brave little soldier’s reply but it’s not pleasant.

I got my own back with a healthy dose of Benylin – there’s a blast from my past. We used to mix it with Bacardi at university.

“Ugh,” Jane said, “That’s horrible.”

I was delighted. I’m a traditionalist in these matters. Medicine should taste horrible. That’s its role in life.

“I’ve had a lovely text from Tom,” my wife whispered, using up what little strength she had left.

“Have you, darling?” I said.

“He’s a lovely, thoughtful boy.”

“Yes…” I said, hastily deleting a few texts.

“Tom, your mother is ill. A get well text would be nice.”

“Don’t forget to send Mum a text. Pretty poorly. Still in bed.”

“Tom, your mother is clinging to life by a thread. Send her a text will you?”

Ben wandered in to see if his mum was any better. What was he doing?

“For God’s sake don’t kiss her,” I yelled. “Then I’ll have to daub a cross on your bedroom door as well.”

“She hasn’t got the plague, dad. Don’t over-react.”

“Your dad likes over-reacting,” said a small voice.

Pah! I thought as I trudged downstairs to contemplate the horrors of the kitchen.

Over-reacting? I’ve never over-reacted in my life. Haven’t got time to. Not when there’s tidying up to do, animals to feed, Ben’s homework to sort out, dinner to cook…

A man’s work is never done. Thank goodness Ben and I can manage without any clean clothes while Jane’s ill…