She arrived at 11am with an extremely tiny young lady who was carrying an awfully large bag. I surveyed them from behind my bumper pack of Kleenex and tried not to sneeze: the poor girl would be splattered against the wall if I did that. "This is Shani" Bea bustled as she pushed me down onto the sofa, directed the bean bag under my legs and lifted said limbs.....all in the same movement. Shani looked impressed, as well she might. "Shani is a holistic healer and no, she's not here to do a nasal lavage, don't worry" Bea continued as she shed her coat and kicked off her shoes. Bea sat to one side, Shani to the other, both watching me intently. I coughed. Coughs mean sneezes. Then I blew my nose. Still they watched me intently. "I see" Shani said eventually, getting out an A4 book and writing my name at the top of a clean page. "Hm" said Bea.
We then had Twenty Questions: when was your last bowel movement, when is your last meal of the day, what is the first thing you put in your mouth each morning, do you eat citrus fruit past 4pm, do you eat carbs later than 6pm? Erm......yesterday, dinnertime at about 6pm-ish, toothbrush usually, no it makes me ill, of course - doesn't everyone?
For half an hour I was cross examined, Shani filled three pages and Bea recoiled in horror at some of my answers. The last one threw her completely. Shani asked what I'd eaten and drunk already today. "Well, I had the rest of Mac's rice crispies, chocolate from my advent calendar, an Ayres croissant with butter and jam, an apple, a Milky Bar, the left over scampi from last night, about five Lockets, a cup of tea, two coffees, four biscuits and a banana". Bea checked her delicate watch "But it's only half past eleven!" she said, bewilderment in her eyes. I believe in honesty, even though it looked as if there was a huge case being built against me.
Apparently, all is not lost. To cleanse my system of accumulated toxins I need to fast for a day, live on pineapple and grapefruit for another day and then eat little and often for a further three days. I must drink lots of sugar free drinks and abstain from coffee and tea (and hot chocolate I suppose) - this keeps the membranes of my respiratory tract well hydrated.
"Colds are a direct result of stress" Shani intoned as she rooted around in her bag. "Have you been stressed at all?" she continued. The last three (four? five?) months of my life passed before my eyes and I had to focus very hard on Bea's concerned expression to stop hyperventilating. "Well, erm, possibly" I muttered. "There are some quick fix remedies we can undertake now" Shani added getting two candle like instruments out and waving them under my nose.
Suffice to say that, 60 seconds later I was lying on my right side on the sofa being watched by all three dogs as Shani put one of these candle like instruments in my left ear and lit it. I could see my reflection in the blank TV screen: it looked like my head was on fire. Shani started humming and Bea started flicking through her Blackberry. This Hopi Ear Candling would, apparently, loosen any compacted ear wax, clear my throat and blocked nose and stimulate my blood and energy flow. Quite frankly, the sheer amount of wax in just one of the tubes was frightening - as Bea said "bloody hell, all that in one ear, how are you not deaf?". The second ear was just as full - I was quite light headed during my head massage and nearly fell asleep.
The next treatment involved the removal of my shoes and some reflexology. I swear I felt movement in my kidneys and a tickle in my bladder - but that could have been because Shani said that she was working on my "blockages" and that I'd feel a release of energy. "And other things!" Bea snorted. Shani shushed her and continued twiddling my toes.
Half an hour later I was sipping boiled water with a slice of lemon in it and not even yearning for a slice of the chocolate cake that I had planned to have for my elevenses. I felt an overwhelming urge to cry (quite usual according to Shani) but resigned myself to the odd sniffle of gratitude to both my sister and her "perfect precious lady" - the latter left me with a sachet to run into my bath tonight "eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree, echinacea, sage and lemon balm - all to soothe you", the former left me with instructions to get an early night with George Clooney (Oceans 12 is on tonight!).
I'm currently sitting here with absolutely no sign of a cough, rejuvenated and not even worrying that David and Mac had roast chicken for dinner while I fasted away. I can hear, without recourse to shushing everyone and everything and muting the television, the dogs grizzling in the garden as they toy with a rawhide bone and I can hear Mac murdering "Away in a Manger" in the bathroom, with accompanying splashes and deep baritone from his father.
I'm ready. Bring on Gorgeous George.