Stresses and strains take toll

Martyr that he is, Zak imparts words of wisdom from his too-well described sick bed this week

The Drinks Retailing Awards are with us again

- a festival of the deserving great and good, reaping the benefits for another year of staying at the top of their game. I really should have tried harder to grovel an invite

but, alas, places are tight

and I'm not sure I could really have justified being there.

In fact, a double-whammy of woe would have been at work, because I am bringing this column to you via the ­miracle of a wireless internet connection

while I fester in my sick bed, surrounded by slowly crusting tissues

and running a temperature so high that the ­goosepimples are making the hair on my arms and legs stand on end, rendering me even more Hobbit-like than usual.

It can be psychologically tough at the sharp end of drinks retail. For example, as I ie here, I know that there should be a couple of pallets of stock arriving at the shop. Goodness, how we need that stock

- the shelves are looking as forlorn and gappy as an aged hillbilly's teeth.

Should the delivery not turn up, for whatever reason, it will be irritating. I

don't want to return to the days when I was told by a customer that we "must be the shittest off-licence in Leeds" (we had run out of his favoured brand of cigarettes, and he was a bit worse for wear). I'm unlikely to "do a ­Vatel" (the 17th-century chef who ran himself through with his own sword when only

the fish delivery

was late), but it will niggle a bit.

But it's also physically tough. The prelude to my


in bed was a couple of weeks of vague achiness, tiredness, ­non-specific muscle and joint pain. I, quite naturally, assumed that it was just the after-effects of a busy Christmas, literally being tired to my bones.

In an effort to ease the aches, I made a fascinating discovery, which I'd like to share with you, FOR FREE . If you do a lot of lifting and carrying

and have a dicky back (and chances are you do), then sleeping curled up like a foetus isn't the best way of resting it. After endless visits to the osteopath (who has now retired to the south of France, possibly funded by me alone), I find that if you sleep on your side, straight-backed, with your head tipped up slightly, it's actually possible to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face another hard day's lifting, rather than feeling as though the front row of a rugby scrum has spent the night doing the fandango on your back and pelvis.

Anyway, the aches sent me to the doctor. Now who, in this internet age, doesn't do a bit of research before going to the doctor? I find it much simpler to be able to go to the doctor and say "I have symptoms A, B and C, and I think they point to D".

Hey presto, plantar fasciitis, or "heel spurs", almost certainly caused by spending too much time standing, lifting and carrying, quite a common affliction for shop workers

and totally treatable by wearing arch supports. So had I actually made it to the Drinks Retailing Awards, I would have been wobbling around on foam-stuffed, mock

Croc loafers.

But sadly, the aches were nothing more glamorous than a virus, waiting for an opportune moment to burst forth. So while I fester here, doped up on Olbas pastilles and paracetamol, staff toil their way towards physical ills of their own. Now, where's that Night Nurse......