Fordyce Maxwell: I didn’t intend to cause chaos when I grumbled at having what seemed like flu

I BROUGHT down the curtain this week. More accurately, curtains. And not on anything in particular, just hauled the damn things down, along with the rail, hooks and fittings in a small blizzard of fractured plastic that spread across the kitchen floor and work tops and into the sink.

I didn’t intend to cause chaos when I came downstairs grumbling about having what seemed very like flu when I had an anti-flu jab last autumn. Because I was also suffering from coughing paroxysms, a streaming nose and a headache – perhaps it was a new type of man-flu reserved for me?

Not that I’m paranoid, but in a laid-low condition I’m vulnerable to conspiracy theories. Whatever the precise medical details, given my boringly blameless lifestyle and the flu jab, I felt cheated to be as miserable as I was.

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Not to mention guilty, because several friends have been hit by genuinely serious medical conditions in the past few months. Checking with them on their operations, recoveries and medication I began to feel like the last man standing. Now I was allowing myself to be a misery about a few aches and a head cold.

Perhaps I allowed that frustration with myself to transfer to the morning kitchen routine of switching on the radio, filling the kettle and opening the curtains.

A slow, smooth pull is needed, and I think that’s what I gave as I had on many a morning before. It’s certainly what I’ve argued since: “No, I didn’t yank them in a bad temper… yes, just the same as usual… I think some of the fittings had become brittle… I always said those curtains were too heavy…”

Right, wrong, maybe – who cares? The net result was standing there, well under the weather anyway, half enveloped by one curtain with the rail swinging wildly on its few remaining brackets and the second curtain about to start its descent.

It’s strange, at least to me, that at times like that I calm down. If the curtain had snagged only briefly I might have invoked Blackadder’s “another cowpat strewn in my way by the Devil’s satanic herd”, or addressed the blameless pot of basil on the windowsill with a word or two.

Surrounded by debris, I simply sighed, folded the curtains and began to pick up small pieces of plastic before counting how many brackets were to be replaced when I could stop coughing long enough to line up a screwdriver.

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I also gave myself a mental pat on the back about how similarly restrained I’d been a few years ago when my son Tom inadvertently hauled down the living room curtains and fittings in identical fashion. Amazing how some things run in families.