I HAVE been afflicted with my annual loss of voice syndrome. John is unrepentantly unsympathetic. In fact, he is entirely disloyal in taking advantage of my lack of vocal fortitude and affects a total inability to hear whatever requests or orders I send his way.

“Sorry I can’t hear what you’re saying,” he will insist as my ailing vocal chords croak out a request. “Can you repeat that? Speak up. What’s wrong with your voice?” The last being obvious that I am, to quote my daughter Jo when she was a little girl and trying to miss the school bus yet again, poorly sick.

I would be surprised to find any domestic relationship where there is not at least one, if not more, conflicts of interest over what takes priority over perceived household emergencies or maintenance jobs.

Currently our drive needs more gravel, a toilet seat fastening more securely, an outside light bulb changed, curtain rails replaced, porch door planed and the dishwasher given a good talking too so that it actually washes the dishes and pans.

But none of these are priorities in John’s eyes and, as it currently stands with my lack of ability to project any nagging requests to get these jobs sorted, ears. He has a big shoot day to organise and anything else can wait.

The day has been planned with the precision that any war general would be proud of. Beaters have had their orders to be there on time, bring a pack up for lunch and ensure that their dogs are under control. Transport around the shoot has been organised with tractor and trailer so that the guns get taken to their pegs safely and with the minimum of disruption to the birds between drives.

I, of course, am not well enough to take part in any arduous outside activity. With regret I have informed, by whisper to the shoot captain, that, on this occasion, he cannot rely on me to plod through mud, fight through woods or pick my way through the undergrowth in order to ensure that the birds fly where they are meant to over the guns.

But, I hope that by the end of a day at home resting my vocal chords, I shall be sufficiently recovered to stagger along to the shoot dinner, sip a reviving gin and tonic and join in the post shoot chatter. Sotto voce of course.