I'M NOT sure there are many illnesses that get quite so hard a time as ‘man flu’.

You hear it a lot. "He's got man flu." He's only had man flu."

Mam got in trouble with man flu recently. She met a friend at a bus stop whose husband was coughing.

Mam quipped: "What's up with you? Got man flu?"

Her friend, eyes beginning to saucer, replied: "Well, we thought it was...." Then her husband interrupted: "But the doctor reckons it's a pulmonary embolism."

As a big hole in the ground opened up, his wife's voice faded with: "We're just off to the hospital now.”

Mam tiptoed away.

She’s always had a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to expressing herself.

Now, I must warn you. Anyone easily offended or even offended with difficulty, might want to stop reading now.

Go no further in this column.

One of Mam's famous tales was of years ago chancing across an old male friend from school, who was, what she branded: "A notorious hypochondriac."

She asked him how he was and he replied: "Smashing - apart from this abscess up me back passage."

And he wasn’t talking about the gap between his house and next door.

It’s the only time in her life she's been really genuinely speechless.

To this day, she still qualifies mentions of her late beloved grandad with: "You know, him that had his leg off in the war."

Nothing to be ashamed of course; he was her hero, having served in both world wars.

As a young girl, she was devoted to this sensitive, painfully thin man who was confined to a wheelchair.

Being inquisitive and with the slightly morbid fascination some children have, she used to ask him: "Did you ever kill anyone in the war, Grandad?"

Tears would form in his old eyes, his voice would break, and he would softly say: "Please don't ask me that. I don't want to have to tell you lies."

All these years later, she still gets deeply upset thinking of that moment. So do I.