Oval-shaped sting in the Nettles tale
A late Christmas present this year came in the form of the supervirus that has been doing the rounds. Signed off for a week and totally knackered, all I could do was flop on the couch in front of the television.
Almost all sick-noters would agree that the direst penalty for absence is the exposure to daytime TV. From my last absence, I had distant memories of Supermarket Sweep, Australian soaps and what appeared to be guidance CPD programmes in which dysfunctional teenagers shouted at their parents while a man in a suit looked seriously into the camera.
But now we've gone digital, of course. That means more programmes - many, many more programmes. I don't know why my cable company has provided me with 193 channels. I don't know why most of them feature people touring houses in France offered at 2001 prices. But I can handle that. It's simple - you switch channels.
What caused me most grief during my enforced break was the number of channels broadcasting repeats. Worse, they were repeats from what seemed like every decade of the 20th century. This was confusing in the utmost - especially when it came to John Nettles.
Now I quite like John Nettles. He seems like a good bloke and he's been in some entertaining stuff - but when you see it all at the same time and you have a temperature, it becomes disconcerting. There he was, thin and active, surrounded by dolly-birds, racing about as Bergerac. At the flick of a switch, you got his dulcet tones on Airport explaining why a Qantas 747 was delayed at Heathrow. Hit the button again and you saw him, more sedate and besuited, solving multiple murders of luvvie pals as DI Barnaby.
It was difficult to work out which decade you were in, and whether the backdrop was sunny Jersey, rainy north London or murderous Midsomer. In the end, I was reduced to relying on the length of his shirt collars, the width of his trousers (and waist) and the age of his female companions.
Eventually, I gave up and switched to the reliable, factual world via CNN. From Washington DC, they were showing what appeared to be the inauguration of an African-American as president.
Then I knew I'd really lost it.
Sean McPartlin is depute head of St Margaret's Academy in Livingston.