Somewhere, there is a photograph of me on a French Mediterranean beach in early- August 1989.
It was the height of summer, the autoroutes that brought us from the Channel port had been filled with traffic moving at walking pace. The beach was a place with barely space to spread out a towel.
Under the Languedoc sunshine, I am sat on a towel, wearing T-shirt and shorts, I have a large towel pulled tightly around my shoulders. I still remember the feeling of cold as I sat there. Beginning a holiday, my health had immediately plummeted.
It was a pattern that was to be repeated. I developed doctor-diagnosed flu on holiday in Brittany in 1995.
Perhaps I should have been more wary about the impending end of year.
Teaching ended Friday week ago, and I set off to Marseille the next morning.
The rugby final was a trip to which I had been looking forward for months. It wouldn’t have mattered who was playing. The flight to Lyon, the TGV journey south, the game at the Stade Velodrome, each moment was to be a memorable finale to the year.
However, there was a feeling of indifference, a sense of overwhelming tiredness. Returning for the in house exams last week, attempts at cheer were difficult. Moments were heavy.
Even writing my blogs became a chore too many. For the Fainthearted has been online for eighteen years. There were times when I would still write a new post even if I hadn’t got home until after eleven o’clock. Last week, none of it seemed worth the effort.
Perhaps there was the onset of some existential crisis. Perhaps the black dog that has been warded off all through the winter months had taken the opportunity of the arrival of the summer days to unexpectedly pounce.
Through the past days there has been a nagging pain in my left shoulder. Sometimes the nagging would become a stab. Having no memory of lifting anything heavy in the past week or wrenching a muscle, the cause of pain was baffling.
This morning, a neat rash of red blisters had appeared on the skin covering my shoulder, the source of the sharp stinging sensation was evident.
It is some thirty-odd years since I last suffered shingles. It had arrived in June, after the final year of training for ordination. A time that should have been buoyant had ended flatly.
The consolation of being run down is that the curve can only turn upwards.