I have chilblains. How the hell do I have chilblains? I’m almost certain it’s chilblains. It’s either that or gout.
How does this happen? I’m not that old. Chilblains! Old people get chilblains. I’m not old. Not old enough to get chilblains. I’m not old enough. I’m not old. Fuck you, I’m not. I’m not. Fuck off.
Mrs Cartwright. She was old. She lived next-door to us when I was in primary school and she was at least three-hundred-and-seventy. She got chilblains. Every winter, she got chilblains and told us all about them at great length and in rigorous detail. I remember Dad once asked why she didn’t just turn the heating on, to which she replied that she, ‘wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.’ Dad quickly dropped the subject and said he had to take me to my cello lesson. I played the piano.
Mrs Cartwright – old Mrs Cartwright – was also fond of explaining how she was, ‘a martyr to me piles,’ so there’s that to look forward to, at least. And she used to send us christmas cards with Old Lady Spider Writing. That’s what we called it, anyway. You know the thing, where it’s all very fine and shaky so it looks like a spider dipped its feet in ink and crawled across the page. Of course it was probably a side effect of her genuinely crippling arthritis and she must have spent hours in considerable discomfort simply to try and extend a neighbourly hand of good grace and seasonal cheer. How we laughed.
Mrs Cartwright – old, ancient Mrs Cartwright – also had a dog. One of those small, yappy things that may or may not have been some sort of terrier. The sort B-list celebrities carry around in their handbags but any sane person would think nothing of drop-kicking into the nearest leaf-shredder. And it bit me! The little fucker bit me and I ran to Mum and complained and she had it out with Mrs Cartwright – old, ancient, decrepit Mrs Cartwright – who refused to hear a bad word about her beloved little yappydog and blamed it all on me and said I was a terror and feral and that it was my fault because apparently annoying little yappydogs respond poorly when you tie fireworks to their tails.
She’s dead now.
Apparently there’s no real way to cure chilblains, just wait and ‘be kind to your feet’. This seems to involve keeping them dry and when you go out and when you come back in putting on a pair of loose thick socks and warming them up slowly. Warming your feet, not the socks. Though I suppose there’s no practical distinction by that point.
Reasonable advice, as far as it goes, but I’ve barely left the house in the past month. I’ve been INSIDE THE FUCKING HOUSE for FOUR FUCKING WEEKS and I’ve still managed to CONTRACT FUCKING CHILBLAINS.
Inside. Inside the fucking house. That’s not right. We’ve had the heaters on. Really we have. There’re children in the house, so of course we have. However, one’s a baby whom my wife insists on swaddling in so many layers that I’m sure we’ve already purchased 95% of Australia’s total wool production for the 2012-2013 financial year. The child is a screaming, shitting, puking trade deficit all by itself.
And the eldest is now big enough to have worked out how to open the doors on his own, which is cute and makes me so proud right up to the point where he opens the fucking doors. No, you little bastard, don’t let the heat out. Oh, you want to play hide and seek do you? Shut the door. Seen The Shining have you? Well, that’s how it’ll end up if you’re not careful, sunshine. All rest and no heat makes Daddy go crazy. Shut the door. There’s an axe in the tool kit, you know? Shut the door. It’s not that big but these internal doors aren’t all that sturdy. Shut the fucking door. No, don’t take off your socks, you’ll… Just shut the fuck… Ah, that’s better. Good boy. Well done. Good closing. Now… no, wait, don’t open it again.