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‘Half man, half couch’

Pulse's surreal Through the K hole blog on a disturbing seasonal diagnosis.

He started to become ill over the summer.

His wife was the first person to notice that his internal workings were somehow misaligned. He was like a delicately balanced Harrison clock, full of frictionless escapements and levers that had been carelessly propped up against a fridge magnet. And without a horologist, she tried desperately to tighten his springs by herself.

At first he was excitable, veined through with impulsivity. He was an animal, blood red, aneurismal, primitive. He would explode with passion at seemingly trivial events on the television. Like a child he would hide behind the sofa or cover his eyes with cushions. He would rush into the kitchen to make himself tea, only to forget about it and let it grow cold. He took time off work and would occupy himself by pacing back and forth, muttering under his breath, crossing himself with a religious, almost supernatural fervour.

His conversation become limited to one or two narrow topics, neither of which she was interested in or understood. His normal mien was slowly replaced with the ugly scaffolding of another. Normally a tolerant man, he became suspicious of others and frighteningly nationalistic.

His family life suffered, and not knowing what else to do she asked him to leave their home, to rent a bedsit for a while.

A few weeks later, in the early hours, she was called by another tenant to come and check on her husband. After an explosive outburst he had become quiet, and was no longer leaving his room.

The air in the bedsit was stale, slumped through with beer and poverty. Yellow light pissed in through the curtains from the street light outside. In the few weeks that he had been away he had become half man, half couch, his flesh the colour of unwashed upholstery and his arm a torporous curtain rail draped over the back. A cemetery of cigarette ash stood at his feet, and with his fingers yellowed through he was a clay husk perched on his own smoking ruins.

He would occasionally shout out obscenities and then retire into himself, in to the dark 3am of his soul where he would murmur over and over: 'We just needed to defend ourselves.'

The psychiatrists came and ladled him into the back of the ambulance, he was the tepid slop of humanity. Stretched over this un-sprung wreckage of manhood was an England shirt.

The psychiatrist tutted and wrote in the notes.

'A nasty case of World Cup fever.'

Written in response to: GPs should beware 'World Cup fever'.

Dr Kevin Hinkey is a GP in Aberdeen.

Through the K hole - credit HaPe Gera, Flickr Through the K hole - credit HaPe Gera, Flickr