For the past three weeks I’ve been laid low by a virus and it’s proving harder to shake off than usual.

What seemed at first to be a mild dose of flu and a heavy cough has turned itself into a heavier cough followed by sometimes rather violent vomiting.

It’s more of a nuisance than anything else, and medical advice has been just to sleep as much as possible and wait for it to go away. So that’s what I’ve been doing – though the sleep often gets interrupted when I have to wake up to get some coughing done.

It’s when lying in bed, trying to get back to sleep and only semi-awake, that the hypochondriac anxieties begin to enter my head. Why is this illness lasting longer than usual? Is it a sign of something serious?

Has my house got sick building syndrome? Or is it smoking-related? I’ve never smoked, but my misspent student days involved a lot of passive smoking in pubs. Has it left me with lungs like old suede shoes?

Stephen Blease Or is it just a sign of getting old? Three of my grandparents made 90, so I’m planning to do the same. At 45 and a half I’m more than halfway there. So am I now on the downward slope, and beginning to fall apart?

At other times I’ve been sitting in front of the TV, a bottle of Lucozade at hand and a basin on the floor. This ailment leaves you too headachey to read for extended periods, so I’ve found myself rediscovering the joys and horrors of daytime TV.

There’s plenty of enlightening stuff to be found, like The News At One and The Daily Politics, but like most people I’m fed up now hearing about Brexit and the prospect of a Scottish independence referendum, or the latest paranoid tweets from the yellow-haired leader of the free world. He’s enough to make anyone feel unwell.

Few daytime shows are quite as irritating as Loose Women . Half the time its presenters will express some very old-hat opinion, like domestic violence is a terrible thing, or girls shouldn’t have to look thin and pretty, and the audience will then clap enthusiastically as if they’d never thought of that before. Or they’ll squeal with delight when some male singer or soap star comes on. Then there’s Jeremy Kyle shouting at fat people. His programme has always been weirdly fascinating – telling his guests: “You’re not a mother, you’re a disgrace!” or “Why don’t you go and get a job?”

You can’t watch it without wondering about what on earth the guests are thinking. Do they really think he’s there to help solve their problems, and not realise that they’re being turned into cheap entertainment? Or do they not care, as long as they’re on TV? And why is it that the problems or failings or just bad behaviour of others is so engrossing to watch?

Maybe it’s for the same reason that we watch soaps, or that freak shows were popular in Victorian circuses, or that the ancient Greeks relished grizzly tragedies.

There’s probably a certain reassurance that comes from knowing that whatever anxieties or difficulties we have in our own lives or within our own relationships we’re much better off than some people. It makes us feel better about ourselves.

And if it does make us feel better, then it’s probably ideal viewing when you’re unwell.