Mrs H directs operations from sickbed

There is something within Mrs H which never switches off. It's like a cross between autopilot and standby mode. I noticed it particularly last week while she was still suffering from a truly awful cold.

There is something within Mrs H which never switches off. It's like a cross between autopilot and standby mode. I noticed it particularly last week while she was still suffering from a truly awful cold. I had fallen victim to it a couple of weeks before and, like most men, had been a big brave soldier throughout the misery.

But there had been some things I just didn't care about. They could wait; I had a blocked nose, a sore throat and a hacking cough. That was enough to worry about.

As for Mrs H, well, she was smitten much worse. She had every symptom times two compared to me and was confined to bed for the best part of a week. But through it all she just couldn't let go of day-to-day operations.

One evening Brat Minor came round to collect his washing. He expressed concern that his mother was in bed and did well to disguise his disappointment that Fortress catering was limited. But free food was available so he scavenged in the freezer, came up with something and turned the oven on.

I went to check on Mrs H.

“What's he having to eat?” she croaked.

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“Dunno,” I replied. Something out of the freezer; looked a bit like a burger.”

“Goodness knows how old that is!” she spluttered. “That could have been in there a year. He can't have that.”

Since Brats M and M left, rubbish food continues to surface in the Fortress freezer.

I rushed downstairs to find Brat Minor popping a meat pie in the oven. Back upstairs to report back to Mrs H.

“It's OK; it's a meat pie.”

There followed a short bout of coughing and a burst of nose-blowing before Mrs H summoned up the wherewithal to respond.

“We're nearly out of those. Add them to the shopping list.”

I charged back down.

“What's wrong,” inquired Brat Minor.

“Got to put pies on the shopping list,” I said grabbing a pen.

“What!” he exclaimed. “She's feeling like that and she's worrying about running out of pies?”

Indeed this is Mrs H. And there was more to come.

Later she got up for a little while. She decided she could manage a piece of toast. I popped a slice in the toaster and went to join her in the north wing.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“You'll have to wipe all round the bathroom if I don't feel better tomorrow.”

I despaired.

Shaking my head, I set off for the kitchen and buttered the toast. When I got back she was having another coughing fit and gestured to me to put it next to her on the arm of the sofa. I sat down beside her.

“The cat needs the water changing in his bowl.”

She said it as if the Mog had slapped in a chit.

Suddenly she let out a shriek. What had happened? Had she taken a turn for the worse?

I leapt up to find the Mog was on the arm of the chair snacking contentedly on Mrs H's toast! Her shriek and my angry bellow failed to deter him, he continued licking away at the butter. I grabbed the plate; he looked quite indignant. Marvellous isn't it? In the kitchen was a bowl of salmon chunks in jelly which he had hardly touched but he was up for a licking of butter off a piece of multigrain toast.

Mrs H was in such a poor way I took a couple of days off. She spent much of it in bed but where as you or I might complain about the misery the symptoms were causing, Mrs H also moaned about the state of the house, the build-up of washing and dwindling food stocks.

I made two trips to the shops and volunteered to do the washing. This was met with: “Huh; by the time I've shown you what to do I might as well do it myself.”

Then she said to me: “There is one thing I would really like you to do for me.”

What could this be? Pop to the chemist for some cough mixture? Perhaps she wanted a piping hot honey and lemon drink; soon knock one of those up. Or maybe she fancied something to eat, how about a warming bowl of soup?

“Could you just vacuum the lounge and bedroom?”


I composed myself.

“I don't think that's a priority just now,” I suggested.

The old fire returned to her eyes.

“Well, if you don't do it I will. I can't stand it looking like this!”

So amid the coughing and snorting the merry sound of vacuuming rang out around Fortress H. But at least it was one thing less for Mrs H to worry about.

Throughout all this the Mog seemed a bit put out. I don't fuss after him like Mrs H does. He got his food and was let out and in when he wailed but that was it. But even his adoring mistress got the cold shoulder.

“He won't come for a cuddle,” Mrs H said sadly. “He doesn't like me coughing.”

Hmm. He wants to think himself lucky he doesn't share a bed with you.