Jayne Dawson: It’s a festive tradition – who else is ill for Christmas?

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I gave a little snigger when I saw the internet joke about Chris Rea.

It was weeks back now and it announced to the world that Chris was about to begin his annual journey.

You know, Home for Christmas.

Well, I know, but it’s the little things that raise a smile, and it’s actually a big thing, being home for Christmas. Everyone’s trying to get there.

#homeforchristmas is all over social media.

I tell you what else is a big thing, though not nearly so much discussed - being ill for Christmas.

Every year, family Christmases across the land end in shreds as the main festive fairy falls unconscious over the sprout peelings, has the vegetable knife prised from her cold trembling hand, and is led weeping to the sofa.

Christmas is officially ruined. The weight of expectation rested on her shoulders, and she has crumbled, succumbed to one of the many malicious viruses that swirl in December

This year, that’s me. I am the fairy that ruined Christmas.

For a full, solid month now I have been ill. And I am telling you this from my sofa where I recline with hot water bottle at my back and antibiotics close to hand.

Yes, that’s right. My illness is such that I have been allowed the mercy of those increasingly hard to obtain antibiotics.

How ill have I been? Let me count the ways.

Better not. Let’s just say that in the beginning, in November, there was one of those illnesses that inevitably finds the victim lying on the bathroom floor in a foetal position, sweating and shivering through the small hours, hoping for death as a respite from the wretched, violent, suffocating, rib-wracking retching.

Otherwise known as norovirus, or the winter vomiting bug. There is much I could say about the humiliations of this illness, of how fast dignity becomes unimportant and how quickly a person ceases to care about ...anything really. But I won’t.

And then, after being brought low by this terrible bug, I have gone on to be cluster-bombed by a series of nasty ailments.

Lets just say that regular contact with a two year old who attends a nursery with other toddlers in a different part of the country means that I am forever fighting in the trenches of germ warfare, and I’m losing.

Still, I am the Christmas fairy. My home is the family festive base. Fourteen people are depending on me.

My head knows that on December 26 no one will care a jot about Christmas 2016, but my heart cannot accept that.

So, like so many others who have succumbed and are #illforchristmas I madly try to carry on.

From my sick sofa I make lists. Lists of food I must get to the supermarket to buy, fortified by painkiller and fever reducer.

Lists of dishes I must cook for the freezer, knowing full well that I won’t be able to face a mouthful myself.

I have seen other women do this. I have seen women staggering round the supermarket with the deathly pallor of someone who required intensive care.

I have visited friends who admit to having a bit of a cold as they serve up the homemade feast, and then leave the room to let leash a graveyard cough, and cry a bit.

We do that to ourselves, we Christmas fairies. Our families tell us not to be so crazy but we know that if we don’t do it, no-one will. And then the world will end.

Actually, I’ve raised the white flag of surrender. I’ ve done what we Christmas fairies never do and requested help.

I have someone peeling veg, someone else doing roasties, someone else washing up. Of course I’m worried, I mean, who knows what the consequences will be but I’m taking breaths as deep as my poorly lungs will allow and telling myself that it’s all going to be okay. And it will be - if we all stay

Our dad Len has left us

Oh well, he said he was going. We all knew it was about to happen.

I still felt bereft though when Len stood and thanked everyone and took his final bow on Strictly.

It did feel a bit like being abandoned by your dad, don’t you think?

What’s going to happen now?

We’ve got Christmas to distract us for the next few days but then, once bare, bleak January starts, we will be alone.

In a stark new year, without our dad.

Len is just one of those people. One of the ones who makes you feel that it’s all going to be all right.

We’re going to need that next year, just as much as we did this year.

So I’m not quite sure how we’re going to cope, or how Strictly is going to cope.

This year was the most successful series ever with thirteen million people watching Ore Oduba win the final.

That’s big these days, so the pressure to find the right Len replacement is enormous.

Of course that can’t actually happen. Twinkly-eyed, kindly, funny, Len is irreplaceable. He is one of the nation’s treasures.

But why didn’t someone explain to him that being the nation’s dad is a job for life?

Anyway, someone is going to have to do the Strictly job and rumours are swirling: It’s Darcey, it’s Anton, it’s Craig, it’s Joanne.

Whoever it is is going to have big dancing shoes to fill.

Meanwhile, I’m having Len as my screensaver, just to keep him near.

When Judy gave Jenny a telling off

Call The Midwife is such a wonderful show in so many ways.

Actress Judy Parfitt, who plays Sister Monica, has been sharing a bit of behind the scenes gossip ahead of the Christmas special.

The 86-year-old has revealed she gets pretty cranky with the younger members of the cast for whipping out their mobile phones between takes.

I imagined she meant some of those playing young nurses and tough EastEnders mums, but no.

It turns out that by younger members of the cast Judy meant Jenny Agutter, 63, who plays sister Julienne.

This little nugget makes me love Call the Midwife beyond all reason, especially as Judy has revealed that she advises Jenny to put away her phone in language that is more pithy than you would expect from a nun in her mid-eighties.

More stereotypes marvellously demolished and more reasons to love this drama.

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