Family Guy: Think you have it bad, kids? I've barely time for a shave...
KIDS these days, "they've the life of Reilly" is what I find myself muttering to myself in true Victor Meldrew One Foot in the Grave fashion.
I'm miffed because the two youngest teens seem to have decided to extend this week's bank holiday weekend.
The older of the two is the first to cry off school. "I feel really sick," he manages, or something like it. All I can actually discern is 'Mm-phrlysk' from the loft where he lives under piles of laundry.
My wife translates. "He's not well," she says.
"Has he lost the use of his limbs?" I mutter.
My wife casts a panicked look my way. "I hope not," she says. "Why?"
"Well, he could at least tidy some of his clothes off the stairs if he's going to be moping around here all day," I tell her.
Downstairs, I meet the youngest who at least has made it into her school uniform. "Can you make me lunch?" she says.
I sigh impatiently. "What would you like?"
"I don't mind," she murmurs miserably.
"Don't tell me you're sick as well," I say, dealing slices of bread onto the kitchen counter like cards and proceeding to slather them with chocolate spread.
"I have inspection today," I think I hear her say.
"Inspection of what?"
"Injections. INJECTIONS!" she says, raising her voice.
"You have an infection?" I say, wrapping her sandwiches and tossing them on the table like a contestant completing a task against the buzzer, which is actually precisely what I was pretending to myself.
She grabs the sandwiches, wearing a face like thunder, and storms out, slamming the door.
My wife enters, stage left. "Don't mess with her," she chides. "She has her injections today."
"Do tell," I mutter, fetching a chocolate biscuit bar from the tin.
The youngest pouts back in again. "Why didn't you say you were having injections?" I tease, holding out the biscuit.
She snatches it and stuffs it into her bag in one go. "I hate you," she says, marching off.
"Honestly," adds my wife. "You just make things harder."
It's mid-morning when the phone rings and someone answers in another room, the sick one, as it happens, from where he's playing PlayStation in the sitting room with the curtains closed. He hands me the telephone handset and returns to his war game.
"Feeling fit enough for active duty, I see," I mutter, noting the empty dishes already accumulating nearby. He doesn't look up.
It's the school office on the phone. "Yes, yes," I say, cutting them short. "He's..." There's a series of loud explosions on the telly as some sort of ammo dump goes up in flames. This is followed by gunfire.
"…On his way in to you very shortly," I tell them. But the school isn't calling about this absentee. Turns out they have another for collection. The youngest has taken ill after her shots.
"Bloody hell," I blurt. "No, not you. Sorry. Fine. We'll come down and get her."
"I'll drop her back here before I go on to the office," says my wife.
"It's all go," I mutter. I can't help thinking that the office sounds like a bit of a break, but then I suppose I'd rather be here picking up dirty clothes off the floor and ferrying dishes in to the sink, than struggling through accounts...
The youngest thumps in, drops her school bag in the middle of the hall and trudges in with a face worse than the one she left with earlier.
'... Or not,' I say to myself, finishing the previous thought.
"I can't move my arms," she moans.
"If I make some hot chocolate," I try, "think you might be just able to lift the cup to your mouth?" At least we'll have covered all the major food groups then today: chocolate, chocolate and chocolate...
"I can try," she says, but I think I might see the edges of a smile in the gloom.
She soon disappears up the stairs, where I hear three loud slurps before her door slams.
I decide I've had enough and I need a little 'me' time. Rather than send the older of the two back to school, I engage his modest babysitting services.
"Stay here until I get back," I tell him.
"Whatever," he says.
I trundle down to the local barber, where the barber in question is sitting in his own chair reading a newspaper, which he puts aside as we exchange places and he wraps a bib around me.
"What'll it be," he says to the mirror from over my shoulder.
"Full hot towel shave," I sigh. "And take your time, if you don't mind."
I lie back in the chair indulgently as he lathers me up. 'Kids these days,' I think to myself. 'They've the life of Reilly.'