Saturday, 22 January 2011

Why I Have Nothing In Common With Anthony Blunt Or Attractive Russian Redheads.

As if toothache wasn't bad enough, now I've got hypothermia as well. And I am rubbish at keeping secrets.

There seems to be something wrong with my syntax, too - given that I didn't mean to imply that my toothache and hypothermia should only be revealed to MI5, (as well as to a dentist when I can afford to see one).  Other things, however, are supposed to be kept under wraps, but I seem to have forgotten that today. Anna Chapman I am not.

When I get up this morning, the house is freezing, and I have to add yet another thermal vest to the millions I'm already wearing. Then I can't move my arms at all, and anything resembling a waist has disappeared entirely.

I'm sitting on the sofa, talking to Max about poor old Alan Johnson and why decent people always get shafted - if that isn't an unfortunate phrase - when I notice something odd about the colour of my hands.

"What on earth's the matter with you?" he says. "Why are you shaking your arms around like that?"

"I can't feel them," I say. "At all. And my hands are blue. Am I having a heart attack?" (Max may occasionally be right when he claims that I get more like Mum by the day.)

He leans over and squeezes the tops of my arms.

"No," he says. "You're not. But the sleeves on that jumper are way too tight. What the hell have you got on underneath it? You've probably cut your circulation off."

"Five vests," I say. "One more than usual. But it's so cold that I had to put it on."

Max looks a bit shifty, and makes one of those non-committal grunting noises that are usually The Boss' speciality.

"What?" I say.

"Talking about the cold," he says. "It's because I've turned the heating off. We can't afford it at the moment."

Good God, is he mad? We only have the heating on for a couple of hours twice a day as it is, so it's not as if we're going over the top - unlike most of our friends, who just turn their thermostats up the moment it becomes too chilly to sit around wearing a t-shirt.

Maybe that's why they are always otherwise engaged when we invite them to come and stay during the winter. And why their waists are more visible than mine, and they haven't lost the use of their arms.

Anyway, now Max has really got me worried, so I give him one of my Infected looks to make it clear that anything other than The Whole Truth would be pointless, before I start questioning him.

"We both get paid within the next ten days," I say. "So surely we can have the heating on some of the time? We won't have to pay for it before then."

"Yes, well," he says. "That's sort of the point. I've just found out I'll only be getting my basic this month. Don't seem to have earned any commission, or only £20:00 anyway."

It is definitely not an exaggeration to say that you can feel it when you turn white with shock, though even that's probably a more attractive colour than the weird shade of grey that Max's face has suddenly become. He looks slightly less healthy than John Major did in Spitting Image.

"Oh, my God," I say. "Your basic? Just your basic?"

"Yes," says Max, as if that's all that needs to be said, which I suppose it should be. But I never know when to stop, as my sex-life seems to demonstrate all too clearly. Flogging a dead horse, I think they call it.

"Well, what the hell am I going to do about your birthday party, then?" I say.

"What birthday party?" says Max.

Now I see why no-one from the security services has ever tried to recruit me.

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