Monday, December 21, 2009

To work for a wage, in sickness and in health.

Here I sit with curved spine huddled over my desk waiting for another Christmas to come, and for a sickness to leave. Working on my own at home means I usually avoid the annual winter ‘what’s going round’ but this year a couple of journeys on packed London Underground trains gave me a sufficient dose of the foul feculence of germ spoiled strangers that I myself have become failed and fouled.

When I was an employee (rather than a self employed fool) disease could bring with it delicious compensations – days on the settee watching television utterly smothered by huge warm duvets and surrounded by indulgent drinks and tasty treats. In times of careless wellness spoiled by busyness and stress I would gently sigh and look forward to catching something horrid. I would daydream of snotty tissues, daytime telly and replacing my colleagues for curled up cats. It was like looking forward to a vacation I didn’t have to pay for by forfeit of a chunk of the few days leave my employer graciously granted me each year. To spend five days with a water bottle in a cosy lounge was as delicious as two weeks exploring the world on vacation, and all the more glorious for leaving my annual leave tally undamaged.

So as I sit here at home with nobody to cover my illness absence and no employer to mumble sympathetically but unconvincingly down a phone line at me I lament the loss of my languid lolling days of temporary and mild malady.

This morning in an attempt to remind myself that I could balance the loss of ill employee perks with the augmenting of unscheduled absences from my desk I ventured into my wintery garden. Wearing more layers than Tutankhamen (although in more disarray) I kicked through the snow, chasing the witless abandonment of childhood winters so many decades ago. I made a snowman and was saddened to discover how poor my skills have become having allowed them to lapse; traded now for skills with machines and a love for more literally literal creativity.

I turned my back on my poor play at being a snow bound Prometheus and sought the cats for winter company. After lifting them from their slumber and having them join me in my exile from the warmth of my house I sighed lightly in amusement as they mewed and shivered before seeking the least snowy path back to their warm nests indoors. I too tired of the will of adventure and made my way back to my desk, weary and wanton of recovery.