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Who can afford to be ill?

At the first tickle of the throat, snuffle of the nose, rumble of the tummy, the fear strikes. Not fear of illness itself, but fear of the sheer admin being ill involves. Time was, we could just retire to bed and see off the tummy bug or the infected throat. It was unpleasant for a day but then there would be a ‘weak’ day – a bonus day – which involved tea and Steel Magnolias and an opportunity to get properly well.

But who, in these grown-up times, can afford to be ill? Who’s going to get all the jobs done? Because every job now involves multiple jobs and it could be that you have multiple jobs all constantly birthing little baby jobs of their own.

Holidays are bad enough. But with a holiday, at least you can plan a bit and you know that the weeks before and after the break will be rather shitty. You can’t strategise around illness because you don’t know it’s coming until you’re hanging over the loo with the phone and computer pinging away unsympathetically.

So you rest as little as possible and then you are back on it and at it and all over it to make up for that mini morning spent in bed. Which means you don’t really get well. Not efficiently. Not properly. Perhaps not ever. And who can reap the flat-stomached upside of a norovirus when you have to eat endless biscuits just to find the energy to stay upright for the next four weeks? The only way to do it is to clear a weekend for uninterrupted bed. Which is a world away from the days when you would be ill or hungover only on your employer’s time. Growing up and taking responsibility is great. Except when it’s just not.

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