For the last week, I've been suffering from headaches. Not constantly, just the occasional one that hits hard and sticks around for far too long.
On Monday, a headache hit me in the morning as soon as I woke up. Ah, those are the moments you cherish, when as you stir in your warm bed, the first early rays of sun creeping through the curtains, you're jolted into consciousness by raw, undulating pain beating ceaselessly through your cranium.
I stumbled in to work, vowing that I'd sort out some urgent business and then take the afternoon off to recuperate. Sadly, that particular dream was whisked away from me when my colleague snuck away from the office at noon never to return. Checking his calendar I found that he'd secretly booked the afternoon off without telling anyone. Being the dedicated little drone that I am, I decided it would be a bad idea for me to sneak off too, so I stuck with it, snapping grumpily at my co-workers if they so much as looked at me.
On Tuesday, headache still present, I crawled in to work and immediately booked the afternoon off before any other bastard could get in there. I viewed this, quite rightly, as a WIN.
I left work at 12.30, came home and went to bed, sleeping right through until 7. A little bit of internetting, several paracetamol and then back to bed until the following morning.
Wednesday - no headache.
Thursday - a bit of a headache. It passed.
Friday - 3 am. I woke up, head pounding like a kettle drum in a particularly violent production of Carmina Burana performed by the National Percussion Orchestra of Bolivia. Pills were scoffed, fruit juice was guzzled and I sat down in front of the laptop to try and fill my waking moments with some mindless entertainment in the vain hope it would take my mind off the agony. After a while, I went back to bed and watched a DVD. Then another one.
By this time, it was 8 am and there was no end in sight to my headache. I was, obviously, starting to wonder if I'd done something wrong in a previous life to explain the endless suffering that I'm experiencing in this one. I soon realised a startling universal truth - bad things happen to bad people. However, as I'm a wonderful person, this was clearly just some sort of blip and would soon pass.
I phoned work to let them know I wouldn't be in, which was a nightmare in its own right. The trouble with a headache is that you can't convey it over the phone. To all intents and purposes, it appears you're simply calling in because you can't be bothered to attend work. If you're fortunate enough to have the flu or a throat infection, you can cough, hack, bark and dribble down the line, leaving the person on the other end in no doubt that you're clearly very unwell. Headaches don't allow you that luxury. Additionally, it's a Friday so even if you're dying of consumption, your co-worker will simply nod at the other end of the phone, make unconvincing sympathetic noises and secretly curse you for your laziness. Fuck them, I say.
Soon, it was 11 am and I was in bed, just about fading into a much-needed sleep, the pain in my head subsiding slightly.
The doorbell rang and my eyes flickered open, rolling towards the ceiling. Can't I even die in peace now? I honestly think that one day I'll get hit by a truck, fly through the air like a rag doll, crumple to the ground in a flurry of broken limbs and, as my blood cools and congeals on the greasy tarmac, someone will tut and nudge me aside with their foot so they can get their shopping home before it defrosts.
Obviously, I ignored the doorbell. "Whoever it is, they can fuck off ", I thought.
Unfortunately, they obstinately refused to fuck off, preferring instead to ring the doorbell again. And again.
I crept out of bed and went to the living room, peering down from the window to see who it was. It turned out to be the elderly lady who lives in the flat below me, standing there with her niece.
Grumbling and whingeing, I shrugged on a shirt and went to open the door. I purposely didn't put any trousers on, deciding that the appropriate punishment for disturbing my peace and quiet was to be greeted by the sight of me in my shirt and pants. They'll think twice before ringing my doorbell again, I can tell you.
The niece took one look at me, resplendent in my shirt and pants combo and involuntarily shuddered - I saw the revulsion ripple through her body. She actually took two steps backwards, even though this meant her back was now pressed against the opposite wall. If she could have punched through the brickwork and crawled into the next room to be an extra two feet away, I'm sure she would have done so.
Through sheer force of will she managed to curl her lips into something approximating a polite smile and said, "Sorry to disturb you, but my aunt has locked herself out."
It seemed appropriate to explain why I hadn't answered the door so I said "Sorry I didn't answer, I was in bed. I've got a really bad headache."
Except I didn't say that, did I? Oh no.
For reasons that I simply cannot fathom, those words left my brain, travelled down my neck, shot into my jaw, and something entirely different came out. What I actually said, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why, was this:
Me: Sorry I didn't answer the door, I was in bed. I've got a really bad hangover.
Me: No! No, I meant headache.
Niece: (small nod)
Me: I don't know why I just said hangover, I'm just...I can't really think straight at the moment.
It was too late. The damage was done. The forced smile had left and the knowing smirk was there to stay. I immediately wanted to knock it off her face with a length of four by two.
No amount of protestation on my part could cause those words to be sucked back into my stupid mouth like they'd never existed. As far as they were concerned, I'd clearly been a very silly boy and was paying the price for my lack of self-control.
It transpired that the elderly neighbour had managed to lock herself out. She'd gone shopping on her mobility scooter and accidentally left the front-door chain on. She'd also accidentally locked the back gate when she'd gone out, so couldn't get in that way either.
Quite what they expected me to do, I don't know, but I felt that I should assist in some way if for no other reason than I could then go back to bed.
"Let me put some trousers on and I'll see what I can do."
I trudged upstairs and donned jeans, shoes and a coat, remembering to pocket my keys so that I didn't get locked out. See? Not difficult is it, elderly neighbour?
I could have just charged the front door bellowing "Hulk smash!" and taken the chain off with sheer, bullish force, but it didn't really enter my head. In retrospect, I rather wish that's what I'd done. Instead, I thought I'd be crafty and clamber in through the back garden. This proved to be both effective and very harmful.
There's an alleyway at the side of the property with gates branching off from it into various back gardens. Elderly neighbour's is first, mine is second. I headed through my gate and, wading through the viciously barbed plants that have taken over my small plot of land, I approached the fence that divides our gardens. It's only about 4 feet high, but I had to scale it in now muddy shoes which slipped dangerously every time I tried to get my footing. After no small amount of struggling, I was now standing precariously on top of the 4 foot fence, a wild tangle of thorns behind me, a large bush in front of me. I couldn't climb down into elderly neighbour's garden - I was going to have to jump.
Through the exertion, my head was now once again pounding like the interior of a chav's Citreon Saxo and beads of sweat were forming on my forehead. I looked like the anti-Spiderman, all clumsy bumbling and grazed elbows.
Deciding that I'd reached the point of no return, I braced myself and leaped forwards with cat-like agility and grace, arcing over the bush and promptly plummeting to earth like a concrete slab, slamming into the ground with jarring force.
I hit the grass, slick with dew, and crumpled to my knees, leg suddenly screaming with pain, glasses flying off my face and skittering across the garden. I imagine the sound was not dissimilar to someone dropping a large bag of potatoes from a first floor window directly onto a patio.
The wind was knocked out of me completely and, wheezing like an asthmatic hyena, I scrabbled about in the damp grass, squinting myopically for my glasses. I found them, wiped off the mud, crammed them onto my face and limped over to the gate, unlocking it and swinging it open.
There, on the other side, stood elderly neighbour and her niece. I couldn't even look them in the eye.
They thanked me profusely as I waved a filth-encrusted hand and limped my way back upstairs, sore, breathless and thoroughly fucking miserable.
In the past you've probably read my blog and figured that I'm just a whining loser with an irrational hatred of everything and everyone. Perhaps you're finally starting to see that it's not my fault. This shit just happens to me, whether I want it to or not.
I can't even lay in bed with a throbbing migraine without the universe conspiring to propel me, unbidden, into perilous situations where I end up either a) hurt, b) humiliated, or c) hurt and humiliated.
The final icing on the cake is that, without fail, elderly neighbour always rewards me for my endeavours. Whenever she locks herself out, or electricity goes off, she knocks on my door and I rescue her. It usually only takes a few minutes, but she's eternally grateful and I find, a few hours later, a little carrier bag outside my flat door with a gift in it. The first time it was a bottle of wine, the time after that a six-pack of Stella Artois. Gradually, however, these gifts have decreased in value. A few months back, there were two bottles of Old Speckled Hen (vastly preferable to the Stella, truth be told) and then, on the most recent occasion, a 4-pack of Co-Op own brand bitter.
Christ knows what it'll be this time. A carton of Ribena perhaps, or a half-eaten ham sandwich. The mind boggles.
Anyway, my head's throbbing like a bastard and I'm feeling so grumpy I may implode, so fuck off the lot of you.
UPDATE - It is now 8 hours later. Time for an update.
Headache: Temporarily abated. This is good.
Leg: Hurting like a motherfucker. I can barely walk on it and have become convinced that it's broken.
Gift: No gift whatsoever. Not even a can of Special Brew. Ungrateful old cow.