“Ooh, you do look well !” she said
“You should see it from my side” I replied, unconvinced
“Been anywhere nice and sunny ? you have a tan”
“Didn’t you go to Amsterdam? Did you get stranded?”
I wasn’t really in the mood for idle persiflage. It was my first day back at work and I had more on my mind than how well I looked. The longer you take off work, the harder it is coming back. Perhaps I should take every other day off ? My colleague went back to her desk and I settled down at mine, turned on my pc and surveyed the scene. It was all exactly as I remembered. Same desks, same pile of work on top of mine, same people. Bugger.
Another workmate approached. “Christ you look well ! Where did you get that colour from ?”
“South East London” I said, not looking up.
“Ha ! Yeah, right”
It was partly true. The only real exposure to any sun I’d had over the past fortnight’s holiday was in my garden on Saturday and standing on the touchline on Sunday, watching a rugby match. Last weekend was the first time this year the UK has been blessed with warm sunshine and I decided to get me some of it. It’d been a long while since I’d had the chance to potter in the back yard, tending the plants and chatting with my old mates the blue tits and blackbirds, returning to my little patch of land to make merry, like old mates who’d been away on their hols for the winter. The return of my old mate the sun on my back was more than welcome.
Sunday, of course, saw the return of The London Marathon- a huge event in my part of town as 36,000 runners run around and along the streets, with plenty of vantage points to cheer on the Elite Ladies and the Complete Nutcases. It’s also long been my particular social event of the year and once again I was stood in a bar at 9am, this time with The Incumbent and keen ‘sports’ enthusiast, Shaun.
We managed to get a couple in before the lead women sped by the pub (in truth we missed the leaders as I’d mis-timed my-round) but thereafter we spent the morning, Guinnesses in hand, cheering and clapping on the masses as they jogged by. I met a couple of other old mates, Matt and Andy, who seemed pleased to see me, but neither would come in for a pint, try as a might to persuade them. Maybe it was too early on a Sunday morning for them, or maybe it was simply that they were trying to complete a marathon, I just don’t understand people.
Once the runners had all passed, and we’d taken advantage of a roast Sunday lunch, I suggested we finish off the day down at the rugby club, where there was a chance to meet more old friends, and maybe, just maybe, the bar would be open there too.
I’m happy to report I was correct on both assumptions. The sun shone, the beer flowed (we even watched a bit of rugby) and the gay badinage and repartee with the old gang went long and late into the evening. At least it would have done if our designated driver not been summoned to pick us up at 5.30. It was a fair call. We’d been on the beer since 9am and although a time of 8 hours 30 wouldn’t threaten any record books, our marathon had clearly run its course.
Back in the office on Monday. “Morning Mike, cor! you look well” chirped a happy voice passing.
“Well it’s either the blood pressure or adrenaline” I huffed, already tired of these alleged compliments. That bloke is a crawler anyway.
After a few hours the effects of the day before, coupled with first-day-back blues, had started to kick in. I popped some ibuprofen to clear my head. Ibuprofen is a double-edged sword for me: It’s the only drug that cures my headaches, but there’s something in it which I’m allergic too. Within an hours of taking it I come out in hives. Red blotchy lumps start appearing all over my back, my head and my face. It’s not a pretty sight. At their height, and to coin a popular phrase of the moment, I look like a beekeeper’s apprentice.
The afternoon wound on, with all the pain and sorrow I remembered so well from when last I was in the office, two weeks previously. I was beginning to wilt.
“Hello Mike, CHRIST you look awful ! You alright, mate?” came the assessment from the bloke at the coffee bar. My hives were in their pomp.
“No, not really, I need a holiday”