'F*cking genius kid, you actually cried. Brilliant. What a dozy old tart your mother is. Now get an arse on before the chippie closes.'
Yesterday, Freddie appeared at breakfast. Not in the warm mufti they are instructed to wear to school until the Polar Ice Cap unfreezes, but still in his pyjamas.
'I've got a sore throat,' he said in a tiny voice of sadness. 'Get dressed. Now.' I countered. He smelled metallic; in our house that is either tonsilitis or morning breath. He cried and felt a bit warm. I felt terrible and bundled him back under the duvet; he smiled bravely at me. I left the Colonel with great lists of instructions about temperatures, how to make chicken soup, the importance of staying warm, which books to read to him if he felt well enough.
About eleven, I called from the office. My cleaner answered. 'Don't worry, Love, 'e was 'avin breakfast watching Soccer AM when I got 'ere. 'Im an' the Colonel's been 'avin a right laugh all mornin'. I think they've gone sledging.'
I picked up Rose after school and we stopped for hot chocolate. 'Is Freddie OK?' she asked. 'Harry really missed him and the Headmaster said to get better soon.'
When we got home, Freddie was under a duvet on the sofa. There were four wet wellies melting ice on the doorstep, two large, two small. I called him into the kitchen where I was sitting at the table supervising Rose's homework. My foot was drumming ominously on the floor. Being nine, he is unable to look at a lady and read The Signs.
'How are you feeling now?' I asked. 'GREAT!' he shouted. 'Me and the Colonel went out for fresh air and I felt SO much better that we went to the chippie and spoke to all the people about who likes vinegar and I had chips and then we went sledging and then I did dog-sledding then I watched football and it's been SO MUCH FUN.'
In a quiet, scary voice I asked him to go and put his pyjamas on. He dropped his jeans enthusiastically to show me he was still wearing them. The Colonel joined us. Being 53, he is well able to read The Signs, he just still doesn't know what to do when he's read them.
'Isn't it GREAT he's feeling so much better?' he gushed. 'You'll never guess, we took a tray and the dog pulled Freddie along SO fast on the ice, AND the field has a REALLY icy bit now that we just FLEW down. Don't worry about supper, we had loads of chips just now.'
There was silence apart from the tapping of my foot and the plop of Rose's tear onto her maths prep.
The Colonel put Freddie to bed double-quick. Rose got to watch Wayne's World in my bed and have three of my secret stash of Godiva chocolates.
Two bots have gone to school today. The Colonel has fixed the bathroom radiator and made pesto for Rose. He has got Wallander lined up to watch on the i-Player and has texted that he'll run me a bath later on.
I should bloody well think so too.