My best friend is Gyles Brandreth. Yes, Gyles, former MP, owner of an incredibly posh voice and often found in dictionary corner in Countdown wearing one of his many multi-hued jumpers. I should add at this point we've never actually met, but my new pal came to me in a dream this week. Let me explain.
The McLean household has been struck down by a sickness bug. First to succumb was my poor husband. He's not used to being sick and isn't the best of patients.
There were lots of requests to, "feel my head - am I warm?" and "do we have any ice cream for my sore throat?" To be fair, he really wasn't at all well, so maybe it's less that he's a bad patient and more that I'm an impatient nurse.
Our children succumbed one by one as the week progressed. My three-year-old, the youngest, normally has the constitution and energy of an ox so it was heartbreaking to see her lying like a little doll, unmoving on the sofa. She seemed to be worst hit, suffering not only with temperatures and a runny nose but she also picked up a vomiting bug from somewhere.
Now, before I go on with my story I have to put out a public warning. What I'm about to tell you involves one of the most disgusting things that has happened to me since I became a parent and, believe me, there's stiff competition.
I had taken the littlest one with me to bed for a cuddle and I was pleased when, eventually, she fell into a sleep, albeit a restless one, as did I.
At about 3.30 in the morning, I was woken by a plaintive little voice crying, "Mummy, Mummy!" I turned around to my baby girl who sat up on her knees, put her hand on my shoulder and promptly vomited all over me.
It was like that scene from The Exorcist and I'm not sure if it's the horror of what happened that made it seem like it went on for ages but that's certainly how it felt. If you should ever find yourself in a similar position my advice would be to cover, or at least close your mouth. I wish I had...
So in the wee small hours of the morning (why do these things never happen during the hours of daylight?!) I was up, changing the bed, showering her and me and, I have to add, brushing my teeth repeatedly.
Unsurprisingly after that incident, I was next to come down with the sickness and that's how I met my new best pal, Gyles. He came to me in the midst of a fever dream. He had a huge box of rhinestones and we chatted about fairly mundane subjects as we stuck them one by one on to a pair of his boots.
He was going to the palace at Christmas he told me and these shiny shoes would be the ideal footwear.
He also said that there was a special word that only he and the people on Countdown knew, a word that was really powerful and just saying it out loud would make me feel better again.
I asked him to tell me the word over and over again but every time he did I got distracted and couldn't catch it. When we finished his boots, off he went saying that we were now best pals and he'd come and visit me again soon.
And then I woke up. I can't remember ever having a dream that was so lucid. I can remember the feel of the rhinestones in my hand and the burn on my skin as I got some of the hot glue I was using on my arm.
The mind is a funny old thing isn't it, and I can't help but wonder from what recesses of my brain poor old Gyles and his frankly fairly hideous jumper was dragged up from.
I'm delighted to say everyone in our house is now on the mend, but I couldn't help thinking when I turned on Radio 4 and heard my new best friend this week in a comedy panel show I wondered if he was wearing sparkly footwear…