It’s good to share... except in the case of the winter vomiting bug.

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My daughter picked up the ghastly virus which decided to manifest itself only after she had arrived in Covent Garden and watched the first dance piece of a ballet triple bill. Early train home.

Two days later, my husband, who had been with her, replicated her symptoms in full and glorious Technicolor.

It is a really horrible bug which is famous for being highly contagious so I have been on tenterhooks. It was my turn next.

I have been reading about the dreaded norovirus and tried to identify where I might pick it up. Apparently, it takes the transfer of only 20 evil microbes to set up the stomach-churning both-ends excesses that so many have been experiencing.

I felt the only way to avoid it, other than to get into the cupboard under the stairs for 72 hours and seal the door with gaffer tape, was to effectively put my husband and everything he touches into immediate quarantine while arming myself with extra-strength anti-bacterial wipes... the ones that shear the first two layers of skin from your hands.

I realise this was not in the spirit of my marriage vows – not much cherishing going on there – and it was about as far away as you can get from the biblical Ruth’s pledge to her mother-in-law, Naomi. You will recall from Sunday School that she said: “... whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people.”

By contrast, I have made sure that whither he goest I don’t go unless armed with the Dettol surface spray; where he lodgest, I don’t. And for “people” we have to read “towels” and I can assure you his towels are not my towels.

I have realised, in fact, that we don’t share many things. He drinks from different mugs (I don’t like chunky ones) eats different biscuits (he’s Rich Tea man, I’m Digestive woman). He reads a Kindle so doesn’t touch my books. I keep charge of the TV remote. We use different shower gel (his manly, mine girly) and shampoo, and each of us sticks to our own side of the bed.

So the only extra precaution was to make sure he didn’t touch me or breathe on me. Yes, well...

My husband would be the first to confirm that I am no Florence Nightingale. I don’t do moppings of fevered brows. My only reason to be the Lady with the Lamp would be to flee a house of sickness during a power outage. And when exactly did the nasty word “outage” supplant the word “cut”? I’m clearly suffering from a tolerance outage.

So far, my lack of simpatico for my husband’s plight has stood me in good stead because I have not thrown up. Yet.

My caution has also extended to trying to protect my friends and colleagues although most of them seem to have had it already.

“Oh, yes, we had that all over Christmas,” is the common tale of woe.

While mindful of the old adage, you can’t wrap yourself in cotton cool, I did attempt to create an anti-bacterial force field around myself. I was taking no chances.

When someone at work offered me a Polo I picked it from the packet with a tissue in case I contaminated the neighbouring mint.

I am currently in first rehearsals for a show in which I play an amateur actress who gets to play the Lady Bracknell, “a hand-baaaag!” roles. It’s fun to play against type for a change.

Short of ringing a small bell and calling “unclean” I made sure my fellow thespians didn’t come too close. Thus, as we sang through the first number we were divided into sopranos, altos, tenors, baritones and Lynne. I sat apart like a pariah, just in case I was harbouring the evils.

“Step away from the Mortimer.”

We had to rehearse being on a crowded, imaginary bus so I made sure I looked out of the imaginary window until it reached my imaginary stop.

I love the way time is suspended in the course of a theatrical piece. I am on that imaginary Routemaster for about 45 seconds before debussing. I really don’t know why I didn’t just walk... it couldn’t have been any distance. But it was just as well I got off when I did, all that imaginary bumping about and stopping and starting isn’t good for someone with an imaginary tummy bug.

Because the trouble is, if you think you might become ill, you have a tendency to believe you really are, even when you’re not.

Being beset by waves of false queasiness, suffering possible stomach cramps and being unwilling to go to the loo, just in case something volcanic happens, have been my particular indications of having nothing whatsoever wrong with me. So far.

lynne.mortimer@eadt.co.uk

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