The last couple of days, I've been what we Scots call awfy no weel. Felt a bit plain on Monday and then woke up on Tuesday morning thinking: what's that noise? It sounded like a portion of over-thick, under-blended soup boiling hard in the bottom of a high-sided pot. Turned out it was me, breathing. When I sat up, I started coughing; when I stood up, I started shivering; when I moved , my eyes went all FX - making lines that streamed out behind things that don't usually have lines streaming out behind them.
So I took a day off work. Actually two. And taking two days off work when you're a self-employed writer is not like taking a day off from an office, shop, factory or farm.
On the upside, you don't have to ask anyone or fill in any forms. On the downside, nobody does your work for you while you're ill; it's all still there when you're better. (But what a great idea - substitute writers!)
On the unexpected side was how quickly I came to believe I'd found my new calling. The undergardener brought me story discs (Stephen King, Alexander McCall Smith, Kate Atkinson and Patricia Cornwell), DVDs (Midsomer Murders), a bunch of flowers and a box of lotion-soft hankies.
There was coffee, soup, ice-cream, ibuprofen and pillows and by lunchtime yesterday I had decided I was never getting up, getting dressed or going outside ever again. Bed is bliss - soft, warm, comforting; there are fifteen seasons of Midsomer Murders - soft, warm, comforting - available to download or stream (and since I fell asleep for big chunks of every episode anyway, I would literally never run out of new bits to watch); jammies are better than all other clothes in every way - soft, warm, comforting - no waistbands or buttons, no need for earrings.
This was my new life. Probably the undergardener would take some persuading, but even if he refused to keep bringing me supplies of ice-cream and story discs, I could order everything online. I had plenty of time to cancel Left Coast Crime, Malice and Bouchercon. I wouldn't even suffer financially for a while - my next two books are written and it'd be a year before anyone even noticed I'd become a recluse.
Okay, I'd probably end up as one of those people who, when they die, contractors come and remove one of the walls of their house and winch them out with a crane, but it was so soft and warm and comforting.
And I had all the zeal of the convert. I laughed at my former self - cycling, walking up and down hills for no reason at all, gardening instead of just keeping the curtains closed, cooking things when there's perfectly good food already made for you in the supermarkets, turning pages and swiveling my eyes when there are stories on CDs and DVDs that let you just slump. Yep, this was it. This was the future.
Then about five o'clock today the rot set in. I was asleep when the phone binged to say I had a text. It was the undergardener and he was bringing home a Chinese carry-out. I put the phone down, paused Midsomer Murders and, before I knew what had happened, I was in the kitchen, putting plates in the oven to warm, setting out napkins and chopsticks, filling the dishwasher, sorting out the junk mail for recycling.
So my new life as a happy slob looks to be over, only two days after it began. I'm better. It wasn't even proper flu. Tomorrow - waistband, buttons, earrings and swiveling eyes. But it was fun while it lasted and I've still got the cough to remember it by.