When I was a child, I was told that pain was nature’s way of telling me something was wrong, and that it needed my attention. Great idea, I thought. So all I had to do was tell nature I had received her message loud and clear and then , perhaps in tandem with my parents or doctor, go about setting the problem right.

Oh, no. It doesn’t work that way. Nature has her own rules and, bloody minded as she is, persists in repeating the message, over and over, over and over, with doomsday seemingly the only release for the recipient. This is what we know as chronic pain. We’ve all had it, and will have it again.

I have it now.

All the muscles in my neck and legs ache excruciatingly. I hobble rather than walk, on leg muscles that feel battered and bruised, always pushing through a pain barrier when doing so. Often, I have headaches typical of a bout of flu. Accompanying these headaches is what I call brain fog. At moments when the fog disperses slightly, I am able to add a few more words to this blog. My reading program, always a pleasure to me, has stalled. At this time of year, it might have included some Shakespeare, but at the moment I feel I’d be hard pressed to cope with Thomas the Tank Engine.

This has been going on now for the best part of a month.

Janet, my life partner, has given me unquestioned support during this time, for which I am immensely grateful. This is the sickest I have been in my adult life. She has served up meals and medicines to me on demand, even when I make that ‘demand’ at impossible times like 3 a.m. I know it is taking its toll on her but, under the circumstances, I’m unable to think of a better strategy. Except perhaps to get well. That would indeed be a blessing for both of us.

What has the medical profession got to say? Well, let;s make one thing clear at the outset. Nobody suspects Covid. I have had countless RAT tests, and one very recent PCR test. They all came up negative.

My doctor, Richard Shepherd, whom I respect, doesn’t yet know what’s wrong with me, but has had me through (and is having me through) a battery of tests, in an apparent attempt to find out what the hell it is I’ve got. At one stage, he uttered the phrase ‘para flu’, but I suspect that’s the type of answer doctors trot out to their patients when they don’t really have an answer.

The last test, done on a blood sample, revealed that the degree of severity of my muscle inflammation was one hundred percent. Holey doolly. Isn’t that the top of the range? I don’t believe Richard ever thought I was a malingerer, but this surely puts the issue beyond any reasonable doubt.

Since then, I have had another blood test, this one to find out if have have any of the markers for Ross River Fever, Q fever, Barmah Forest Fever, Dengue Fever, or any of the other beasties in the stable of this diabolical family. I await the results.

Night time is interesting.

Since, by all reports, my inflamed muscles lie just below the skin, I find it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. So, I mostly toss and turn. When I do drop off, usually in the wee hours, I often have dreams that are – let’s just say – beyond weird.

For your potential interest, I relate one of these dreams here.

Imagine a huge single-story villa spread over several hectares, consisting of countless interlocking square rooms, each unfurnished, and measuring about 4m X 4m. Each of the rooms has four doors, one in each of its walls. I am there because I’ve heard there is a musical event going on here someplace. As I go from room to room, I am unable to find said musical event. I imagine I hear its strains wafting to me from a distance. it is The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi,

What I do find in each room is a prominent right-wing figure of some note holding forth, at the very least to to a nut-job audience in the single digits. Some are local, some international. The crew from Sky After Dark is well represented in the premises.. So, in the first room, I find that grinning idiot, Rowan Dean, who seems to believe that his inane visage is some sort of asset to his persona or perhaps to the incoherent cause he is trying to espouse. I exit hurriedly.

The next room contains Richard Bolt, complete with his phoney gravitas. He has a way of starting from unfounded premises, then expanding upon them with impeccable logic, to reach (unsurprisingly) quite outrageous conclusions. I suspect he picked up this technique from Bob Santamaria, a pundit some of you may remember from decades back, but Bob did it with much better style then this upstart Bolt ever did. I exit hurriedly.

In the next room is that long-legged woman whose name I can never recall. And indeed why should I? To steal a line from Gareth Evans, it saves time. Her potted populist opinions are an insult to intelligence. I exit hurriedly.

The next room contains – I kid you not – a cameo appearance from beyond the grave. Werner von Braun, no less. Not wanting to hear some ideological spiel on rocket science, with an emphasis possibly on its effective use against the untermenschen, from a ghost no less, and delivered with a Kraut accent, I exit hurriedly.

I fully expect to find Adolf Hitler next, but instead I get Vladimir Putin. A fair swap, some would argue. With a perfunctory wave to my old mate and a few encouraging words (‘keep up the good work, Vlad’) I make my exit.

So, on to Nigel Farage, with a mouth big enough to take a full mop-head. Had one been on hand, I think I might have obliged.

… and so on and so on …

So, as if my personal pain wasn’t boring enough in itself, I had to be subjected to these unfunny clowns taking up my precious moments of fitful sleep,

You, my ever-so-precious readers, must now understand that, for the time being anyway, I may not be able to pump out these blogs at the same rate as I have been, which I believe is one every two or three weeks. You might have some understanding of how difficult it has been to get this one out. So, please give me a break while I sort this shit out, this shit that has beset me without mercy.

I expect to be back. Just not soon.