Why is it that we can swamp our kids in sympathy if they so much as develop a septic whitlow, yet find it so hard to show anything more than steel-hard cynicism if illness or minor injury befalls our partner?
When mine starts to go all wan and wobbly and starts wittering about coming down with something, I can literally feel my sympathy pool drying up and cracking like a drought-stricken watering hole in David Attenborough’s Africa.
Stomach ache? Fiddlesticks. It’s only indigestion, I cry, all Mary Poppins. You think you’ve got norovirus? It’ll be that past-its-sell-by-date yoghurt you snaffled from the back of the fridge.
I see his wimperings as a bit... well... wimpish.
Don’t get me wrong; if it was SERIOUS, if there was BLOOD or anything, I’d race to his bedside and do my best Florence (Nightingale, not Machine).
Whereas, whenever I’ve been a bit poorly, he’s always been lovely. He tenderly tends my fevered brow and removes full sick buckets without so much as a silent Munch retch.
But if I ever dare to fall down, he gets mad with me. Reader, I must tell you he hasn’t been very sympathetic about my broken elbow (which is healing nicely, thank you for asking. The doc at the fracture clinic paid me the most amazing complement, actually; told me I have the bone density of a woman of 25. I’m cock-a-hoop that there’s a body part not showing its age).
For the most part, Bloke’s lack of compassion is because my tumble occurred whilst ‘in drink’ (though he’d have done exactly the same had a barman handed him vouchers for some crudely named, highly alcoholic beverage at £1 a shot),
But fact is, he seems to view a fall as an easily preventable act of gross stupidity.
One of my dearest friends (the one whose mother had her feeding the neighbourhood foxes cheese sandwiches) fell the very same day as me – and her bloke reacted in the same vein as mine.
While dashing out to feed ‘her’ birds that morning, her slippers found no grip at all on the muddy lawn and before she knew it, she was flat on her back and covered in bird food.
Badly winded, one foot trapped beneath her, to her further dismay ‘her’ birds didn’t swoop down and start tugging her upright, like their cartoon cousins in Snow White.
Dragging herself into the house like an injured animal, in the nick of time she remembered the builder was in the living room. She couldn’t let him see her caked in mud, Trill and bacon rinds; she crawled into the utility room, stripped to her bra and knickers, wrapped herself in dirty sheets and cried quietly. Eventually her chap burst in, told her off for going out in her slippers and said: “That bird table has to go.”
It’s not only women who behave so, though; a male colleague broke his leg at football and got home to be told by his wife: “Don’t scratch my wooden floor with that pot or there’ll be hell to pay.” I hope he told her to put a sock in it.