Oscar is, you may recall, rather a hypochondriac. He enjoys a good illness, and likes to worry about his health at all times. It’s being so cheerful that keeps him going you know.
I try not to discuss illnesses in his presence, particularly ones he has not heard of before. He reminds me rather of the narrator in Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, who after reading the medical dictionary convinced himself he had everything from typhus to housemaid’s knee.
We were at my mum’s earlier after a reasonably abortive day out, seeking solace in a cup of tea. Oscar had been sent to the bathroom to have a wash due to some disgusting thing he had done. I cannot be more specific than that. He is pretty much disgusting 24/7 and despite his health fears takes a very dim view of personal hygiene.
My mum said: ‘Remember to wash your hands with hot water and soap. We don’t want you getting a hideous tape worm.’
He came dashing back to the kitchen, demanding to know what a tape worm was, how you got it, how big it grew, whether it might kill you etc.
On the way home he was rather quiet and thoughtful. Later on he said: ‘I’m pretty sure I have a tape worm mama.’
Me: ‘Why do you think that Oscar?’
Oscar: ‘Well, because I am hungry all the time. I mean. ALL THE TIME. I eat and eat and eat, and I’m not really ever full, so you know, that’s what granny said was what happened if you had a tape worm.’
Me: ‘Oscar. I know exactly what is the matter with you.’
Oscar (delighted): ‘Really? Do you really? What is it? Have I got a tape worm?’
Me: ‘No. You’re just a small, greedy, eight year old boy.’
Me: ‘NO. No buts. You do not have any symptoms of having a tape worm. You are just a boy who likes biscuits.’
Oscar (Disappointed): ‘Oh.’
He trailed off sadly, coming back a few minutes later:
‘I’m pretty sure Homer Simpson has a tape worm though.’