Things couldn’t have been better.
And then I appeared to become seriously ill.
About a week later, I neglected to ring TLOML towards the Thursday to see if she wanted to do anything on the weekend. I thought about it, but as a really lazy bloke, I reasoned that she might ring me. She didn’t. And I thought well, missing one weekend together won’t be the end of the world.
I had a couple of mates over to the big old house on the hill this cold Saturday afternoon and we were having a choof and listening to some great music. As you would. Flash by Jeff Beck it was, which had the minor 1986 hit People Get Ready, with Rod Stewart on vocals. We were talking about Beck’s playing. His odyssey from the Yardbirds through various Jeff Beck Groups. With a veritable cavalcade of stoner insights flying back and forth.
Well, your mind opens and you let the odd thought in that wouldn’t otherwise form part of any straight stream of consciousness. And some of it still holds water when you do get straight. I was standing near the mantelpiece and giving a partly coherent and excruciatingly pompous summary of Beck’s place in rock guitar history. The Crashing Bore Holds Forth.
I leaned over towards the mantelpiece with one hand outstretched and missed it completely and stumbled.
“Shit, sit the fuck down you fuckin’ idiot,” one mate sympathized.
The other bloke backed me up though.
“And your talking shit too ‘cos your just too fucking stoned. I want to listen to the fucking record, not you.”
Suitably uplifted, I joined them on the lounge suite. I wasn’t spinning out, but I was pretty stoned and had the wobbles. Which was a bit disconcerting. And I was a little disoriented. I spoke negligibly from there on, but when I did, I slurred my words. After my two paisani left, I had a bit of a nap. When I woke up in the early evening, I was no longer under the influence of Terence Stamp’s Favourite. And I felt clear, not dizzy. But the walls kept bumping into me and I sounded as if I’d been partying like it was 1999.
I called TLOML and she wasn’t home. Do you know where she is? I asked her mum.
Yes, she’s over at her Uncle Big Irish Bloke and his wife’s.
I was put out, and the logic went something like this: I hadn’t called her, so it was up to her to call me, and she hadn’t, so therefore she was in the wrong and I was therefore entitled to ring her and demand to know where she was and why she hadn’t called me. And why she had the nerve to be out while I was stuck at home. This actually made sense to me at the time. I kid you not.
I grilled her mum some more about where she was and then when TLOML got home and called me back she wanted to know why she was expected to call me to see about the weekend, and I mumbled and stammered my way through a lame and very unconvincing presentation of my case. She told me she thought I was drunk, OR SOMETHINNNGGG!! she added in what must have been Arial Black 72. I tried to assure her I wasn’t, but I sounded in my cups, verbally.
But now, let’s do an Enid Blyton, shall we? Let’s, having gone into minute detail in an introduction, then just zip through a crucial part of the narrative in a really brusque, dismissive can't be fucked kind of way, probably annoying the crap out of our readership. Both of them. Anyway, ol’ Enid placed a great store in the recitation of lists, if I remember my Magic Faraway Tree correctly. So:
1) I’d had a really painful sore throat the week before. The GP had said it was Clayton’s Tonsillitis. The tonsillitis you have when you don’t have any tonsils;
2) When I returned to him with the wobbles, he referred me to an ENT Specialist. Balance problems are often middle-ear related. But the ENT bloke thought I needed to see a neurologist;
3) I was tested. I was scanned. I was interviewed. Did I belong to a high-risk category for HIV? I theatrically affected mild outrage at the very idea of such a question.
4) After all the variables had been isolated, the loss of co-ordination was found to be an inflammation of the cerebellum, a complication usually arising from glandular fever, which the sore throat must have been a small case of. Tests don’t show it, so you have to eliminate everything else;
5) I spent a week in St Vincent’s on a cortisone drip and then I was fine;
6) And lashings of ginger beer. No Blyton list is complete without it.
But what was TLOML doing while all of this was going on? And where were we? Well, she was a busy girl. What with visiting me at the big old house on the hill a few times a week while I waited for a hospital bed, bringing me soup and other meals. And then during my week in hospital, she came in every day. I longed for her when she wasn’t there and waited all day to see her.
A fellow patient I used to sit and chat with was introduced to her and after she left told me:
“You’re on a good wicket there mate...”
I couldn’t have agreed more.
Another with whom I shared many a cigarette asked:
“Who’s that girl that comes to visit you? She is really beautiful. So glamourous.” I concurred with that too.
She had been worried about me earlier, while the protracted diagnosis played out. I told her there was no point in winding myself up. No news was good news, and she could be assured that, if it came to the worst, I would promptly go to pieces like the best of them and prove I wasn’t as stoic as I was trying to make out.
But through it all, she brightened everything up. I was with someone who really cared for me. Liked me. Enjoyed my company. Thought I was ok. As my fellow patients had hinted, I was a very lucky bloke.
The day I was discharged, a good 5kg lighter than when this all began, she came over to the big old house on the hill in the evening and...
Puts on Les Patterson voice:
...I don't mind telling you she did her fair share of ceiling inspecting that night.
Are you with me?