LET’S start off with the good news.
My wife can still eat. She can still focus on the X Factor. Her ankles seem to be working.
That’s pretty much where it ends. She doesn’t feel well. Coming down with something: head, shoulders, back, stomach... They all ache.
Of course, I am the very embodiment of the solicitous carer.
I flutter back and forth with cups of tea, painkillers and those pillows you whack in the microwave and then wrap round your neck.
But there’s nothing I can do about her knee.
She fell over. Late. Rushing to a meeting. Cobbled courtyard.
You can fill in the blanks...
Her knee is spectacular. It is roughly the size of the Isle of Wight, mottled with bruises and criss-crossed with cuts.
The scab, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be remarkable...
That was a week ago. Seven days on, the scab is remarkable. A sight to behold.
A large, crusty, Technicolor scab – which my wife is itching to pick.
In the 12 years I’ve been writing this column, I’ve covered nearly all the less savoury aspects of family life – standing in cat puke in your bare feet, my beloved daughter poo’ing in the bath, children vomiting at 3am.
Damn. I’d forgotten that one. I got out of bed – stark naked – to pick a screaming Jessica out of her cot. I held her. Patted her back. She threw up. To this day I can feel it running down my back...
But, and this is a staggering oversight, I have not yet written about scabs.
Which is amazing, because they were a central part of my childhood. The only time I didn’t have a scab on at least one of my knees was the two weeks I was in bed with measles.
And then I passed the baton on to Jessica. “What have you done now?” we’d wail as we picked her up after games.
“Skidded on the Astroturf,” was always the reply. She’s a mature young lady at university now. But she’ll still have a scab on her knee.
Scabs were simply inevitable when I was a boy.
Our school playground had a permanent coating of grit.
The ideal place to play football. Whatever lesson came after break-time, I spent it picking lumps of playground out of my knee.
Health and safety? Sorry, hadn’t been invented.
But the pain came with a twisted sort of pleasure. Few things compared to the enjoyment I got from a really good scab.
I’d sit in Mrs Leighton’s class, teasing off little bits of scab until there was just The Big One left in the middle.
The one you couldn’t pick because it was certain to bleed and trickle down onto your school sock.
Back at home mum would say something totally stupid. “Don’t pick your scab.” What? What’s the point of being a grown-up if you’re not allowed to pick your scabs?
“You’ll only make it worse.” No, mum, you won’t make it worse. You’ll have a lot of fun, just teasing that fingernail under the edge, gradually levering it off.
Anyway, enough nostalgia. I’m back on duty. My beloved is calling from the sofa. Her knee’s still stiff, but all the other ailments have gone. She’s strong enough to watch Bake Off and finish my Shiraz. If I could just top her up...
Fortunately I have an ally. Ben is with her. “Don’t, mum. Leave your knee alone. You know what you say to us. You’ll only make it worse.”
“But it’s itching. It’s driving me mad.”
“Well control, yourself. Act like an adult.”
That’s my boy. His Gran would be so proud...