Forgive me for talking about illness like a tape that is stuck on repeat, catching the same line over and over as you try to wrench it out of the player, but it’s pretty much all I have had to think about this week (well, all I want to discuss!).
Do you have a mother-o-meter?
I do. They should be patented. My friend Lou and I were discussing this yesterday, and it’s true. Everyone has one. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, black or white, tall or short, adult or child; everyone refers to the mother-o-meter of ill in times of sickness.
There are various stages of sick, and they go a little like this.
Stage 1 – “I don’t feel well” cough.” Cough tends to be added as an aside, almost to prove illness. In the case of a child, this can be attributed to not wanting to go to school, in an adult a hangover or need for slight want of sympathy, but not too bothered if not received.
Stage 2 – “you go along for dinner/to your mums / to the cinema without me. I don’t feel up to it” general symptoms of not feeling well worsened if this is heard on Christmas day. Victim is generally sick, although in the case of a visit to your family, could be hamming it up for effect to become excused from proceedings.
Stage 3 – “I think I’m dying. Call my mum.”
Yep, the final decision on illness is to call your mother. My mother, often nicknamed Doctor Diagnosis is relied upon for any sort of malheureuse, as she is the mother-o-meter. Symptoms are put to her like an oracle, and you wait with baited breath until she gives out a verdict.
“Headache, aversion to light, rash…… (We wait…) meningitis! I’m taking you to hospital!” although in a teenage case the answer to these symptoms was normally “hangover, fell in a bush on way home, go back to bed!” (Or go to college if you were really unlucky and caught her on a particularly harsh day.)
When we were really little she used to have a thermometer that was made out of a similar sort of material as old fashioned photo negatives (those were the days) that flimsy sort of not-quite-plastic, not-quite-paper. It was stuck on your head, and went one of the colours of the rainbow depending on how high your temperature and it could never be fooled. My mother can sense a faker from thirty paces, and this made her perfect for the position of school nurse when I was a kid. I was the child whose mother worked at the school. In my nightmares I heard her shouting “WHERE do you think you’re going?!” to children in the corridors, and generally haunting my childhood. School is a place you go to be rid of your parents, surely?! Said faker was given a stern look and told that if they still felt ill at lunch then to come back. By this time you had made it through most of the school day and had to suffer PE so you didn’t really care anymore.
But the mother-o-meter is universal, something that I learned when talking to Lou. She was telling me about her husband’s migraine, and how he had informed her that he thought his head might explode, and she should call his mum. It’s like making the necessary funeral arrangements, isn’t it? I cannot sort this out with paracetemol, so I must call my mother.