Picture the scene. An opera house stage, swagged in crimson velvet. The house lights go down, leaving only the scalloped brass footlights aglow. As the curtain slowly rises, we see before us a threadbare chaise-longue in a draughty, ill-lit Paris garret of the 19th century, upon which a frail figure in a tattered nightgown lies, coughing weakly into a tiny scrap of bloodstained lace hanky. Alone, uncared-for, the helpless figure of Mr Fishwife prepares for his final aria as a cruel world leaves him to perish of consumption. Beside him, the burly figure of, well, me, weeps in a baritone voice (I'm bordering on basso profundo at the moment).
Happy New Year! As I write I'm clutching a packet of Day Nurse capsules in one hand and a large cup of tea in the other. Oh yes, Mr Fishwife's flu has finally got its claws into me and all my attempts to dodge it have failed. Inevitable, really, when one is sharing the same bed as someone already afflicted and they are coughing lavishly into one's face at all hours of the night. So far I fear I may have infected not only Mr Fishwife's mother but also my entire family, Inexplicably Single Martyn and his parents, four of my closest friends, their nieces and nephews, and most unforgivable of all, a pregnant woman. I won't go on again about the joys of Night Nurse, but it beats champagne hands down as this year's best tipple for the festive season. On the plus side, I sneezed on somebody very rude on the Tube.