Christmas in the Steerforth household has been a subdued affair. With impeccable timing, I came down with "swine flu" on Christmas Eve and have been upstairs in bed ever since.
Two days later, my wife started to sound like Fenella Fielding and began demanding paracodol.
She is now worse than me, although that may be the result of her decision to tackle the symptoms head on by drinking a bottle of wine. I have been more cautious, taking a few tentative sips of port, like a consumptive Victorian gentleman.
In all of this, my mother has been the heroine of the hour.
Like a special agent called out of retirement for one final mission, my mother has taken charge of the children, introducing them to the delights of white bread and egg and chips, whilst managing to make our kitchen look tidier than ever. It has been good for her and great for us.
During one of my more delirious moments, I began to feel as if my entire adult life had been an illusion and I was really back home, in Teddington, listening to my parents in the room below. As if on cue, my mother cleared her throat and the theme tune to "Upstairs Downstairs" boomed through the floorboards.
Later, my wife explained that it has returned for a new series (if you can call three episodes a series):
I caught up with the first episode on the BBC iPlayer and to my amazement, it wasn't crap. Admittedly, Tom Stoppard's son Ed wasn't fantastic, playing the role of Sir Hallam Holland in the style of a regional sales manager for a chain of East Midlands car exhaust centres. But the rest of the cast were spot on (particularly the monkey) and it was particularly wonderful to see the return of Jean Marsh as Rose: