Not seeing a posting on this blog in commemoration of this Christmas Day just past, you might be forgiven for asking yourself if there was anything the matter with me, or indeed if I had finally died. The fact is, I was too ill to write anything, for I was struck with a very bad dose of the influenza. At my age (120), influenza is just not a good thing to get, especially influenza as virulent as the one I not only had, but still have, for I’m still far from being totally well.

For many days, I tossed and turned in my little bed from the raging fever. And my coughing spasms nearly turned my body inside out. For all I know, I was at death’s door. But I dared not visit a doctor because of the murder arrest-warrants issued against me by the police forces throughout the world. Any doctor, being visited by a 120 year-old, is likely to begin asking questions inordinately intrusive, and he could make further inquiries with the Authorities. I just can’t have that. To die by being hanged from a scaffold would be just too humiliating for me.

Even to have influenza is humiliating, for I never used to get influenza until quite recently. In fact, I don’t remember my Mater or Pater ever having even a day’s illness, let alone influenza, apart from the maladies from which they died when very old. As for Monty, the notion that he would ever have been indisposed by influenza would be preposterous. I remember when I served on Monty’s staff in North Africa in 1942-1943. Monty had all us officers doing PT at 6.00 every morning, and Monty would do the PT as well. There was no shirking, for Rommel had to be knocked for six out of Africa. Monty would have regarded as a shirker any officer taking to his sick bed for a little thing like influenza.

Therefore, by taking to my sick bed these past few days, I have been shirking. Monty, looking down at me from wherever he is now, cannot be pleased. This is something I’ll have to live with.


5 comments on “Shirking

  1. Richard says:

    There is an abundance of experience that I, whose grandfather is only one-half your age (120), may savour from your utterances, if I so choose.

    You may find it disconcerting, at your great age (120) to learn that my grandfather had, like you, a near-death experience over Christmas, brought on as the result of invasion by a malignant and uncompromising influenza virus.

    Unlike you, however, he knew he could not die because he is serving a prison term of one hundred and twenty years for multiple murder and it would be illegal to do so. Originally he was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead but was relieved to have his sentence commuted to avoid that demeaning fate for an officer. I mention in passing that the murders were committed in a war waged at the time when nuclear weapons were a deterrent. Mercifully, no such weapon was deployed. For purposes of clarification I use the word deploy to signify use or rather, in this case, non-use. What an unfortunate ambiguity that word conveys!

    However that may be, I trust that you are now fully recovered. The after-effects of an attack can last a long time and injections are an unreliable deterrent to proliferation.

    By harbouring the potentially lethal virus and keeping it to yourself rather than deploying it you have acted in the wider interests of humanity. You are not a shirker, you have demonstrated the courage of restraint. Let us hope all those in possession show your wisdom and moderation.

    • Jeremy says:

      I don’t envy your grandfather having to spend the next 120 years in prison.

      The current prime minister of England appears sufficiently an anachronism to be easily persuaded to bring back death by firing squad.

      Should firing squads be reintroduced, this might be your grandfather’s chance to apply to be dispatched to meet his Maker in this honourable way.

      • Richard says:

        I happen to know that this is taken from a docudrama featured in Jeremy Corbyn’s Books and Films. I believe the film was entitled How Successfully to Remove Opponents from a Shadow Cabinet, but I could be wrong.

        No disrespect, but it must be hard at your great age (120) to separate fact and fiction. My grandfather, who is only half your age, has a similar problem.

  2. Richard says:

    It may interest you to know that I myself am just emerging again into the world of the living, having survived the predations of a vile cold/’flu infection.

    These hardy microbes do not, it appears, recognise the generation gap.

    Do you think I might have caught it from you in virtual reality?

    • Jeremy says:

      I’m glad to hear you survived the predations of your own influenza.

      I’ll surmise, though, that, compared with me, you’re still a relatively young whippersnapper. So your chances of surviving this malady were always much greater than mine.

      As to whether you caught these germs from me in virtual reality, who knows? Remember, “…..There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy……..”

      As for Mr Jeremy Corbyn, I’m seeing more and more how England desperately needs him as Prime Minister. I would never say this were I still like how I was when an active General. However, unlike most other very old men, I continue to educate myself, to the extent that, today, I’m quite a different fellow from how I used to be.

      Seeing as I was still quite famous in the time when Mr Corbyn was born, so that his Mother and Father, if newspaper readers, would have known my name, it’s entirely possible they named him after me.

      If so, I’m honoured.

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