This is another one from the good people at who strive to produce a magazine that is useful, interesting and insightful. And then I turn up at the end like the uncle nobody invited and proceed to fall over a chair.


Hello. I am writing this to you from the realm of the unwell.

And as a man who is firmly ensconced in the realm of the unwell, I can, with no doubt whatsoever in my mind, tell you that no-one in the entire span of human history has ever been as unwell as I am now. On this sofa, under this blanket with its avalanche of snotty tissue papers, lies patient zero of a terrible plague which has the power to destroy all of humanity.

Or, it’s a cold. One of the two.

Either way, scarlet fever and a particularly virulent strain of some flesh eating virus combined could not even touch the discomfort that I find myself in at this present moment (I imagine). And adding to the sweats, shakes, and the heroic lifting of a cup to signal to my wife that it is essential that I get another hot lemon into me (STAT!) there is the extra added side effect of my life or death sickbed battle: an extreme case of The Guilts.

The Guilts manifests itself in a number of ways. Affecting teachers in particular, The Guilts is a secondary illness that attaches itself parasitically onto the primary malady in an often successful attempt to make you feel even worse about having the audacity to have a body that does not work at optimum efficiency 100% of the time (even when faced with stress and physical exhaustion).

As if being ill weren’t enough, The Guilts often compounds the illness by making the patient imagine all the work that is not being done that will leave kids further behind, the hardships faced by the colleagues who will have their time sucked away as they have to cover your lessons (and the accompanied tutting and eye rolling when discussing your absence), and the reams of extra work that will be faced upon your return.

In some, more extreme cases of The Guilts, the secondary illness can hugely exasperate the primary one as its influence pushes the carrier into taking their body above and beyond reasonable function in an attempt to carry on through feverish rivers of mucus, even though it is patently obvious to anyone the subject comes into contact with that the subject needs to go home for fear of turning the staffroom into a biohazard site (and not just because of those three cups that have been sat in the sink since last Christmas).

The Guilts effectively acts as a contributing factor to the spread of the primary illness and soon enough you have both the staff and student body looking like something out of the film Outbreak, just before Donald Sutherland decides to use an experimental air-bomb to level the whole area. Was that too specific a reference to a film that not many people watched? I can’t tell as I’m feeling a bit hot and can’t think straight.

Anyway, The Guilts is a nasty little bug that is very difficult (or sometimes impossible) to shift. But you know what else is difficult to shift? An illness, if you don’t properly take care of yourself. Soldiering on is all well and good, right up until you become the school equivalent of Typhoid Mary and waylay the whole building.

Now, I’m fully aware that there are places where it’s expected that you soldier on, no matter what colour slime is oozing out of you or which of your organs you’ve accidentally coughed up for the third time that day, but in my never-even-close-to-humble opinion schools are basically huge petri dishes designed to cultivate all manner of ickyness (and no, I’m not talking about the kids).

People will get ill. People do get ill. It’s of the utmost important that schools have a contingency plan for when it happens (hopefully one that doesn’t place an undue burden on remaining staff, and is rather more substantial than ‘don’t get ill’) and if they haven’t, well…perhaps they need their own dose of The Guilts

So I’ll feel a bit guilty about being off, but I’m not going to let it drive me into doing something that might scupper my chances of getting well. The Guilts will not get the better of me. I’ve got enough to put up with, trying to function whilst being the most ill person in history an’ all. Although I think I’ll see if I can make my own hot lemon next time; that’s how brave I am.

Thanks for reading.


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