The question I dread most: ‘How was your weekend?’

It is the polite interrogation co-workers make of one another on a Monday morning.  For some, it is an amplified greeting. For others, an expression of genuine interest. But for me, it has become a moment I dread.

The trouble is I find it difficult to lie or gloss over the truth. But I also know that the majority of people would be shocked to know the details of the car crash that is our current lives. And it would not be fair to answer a friendly solicitation with images sure to haunt them.

They won’t, for example, want to know what it is like to clean the tube implanted in Phil’s heart which protrudes from his chest. Or about the nightmares he has in the night, his anger at the short straw he has drawn in life, and the frustration he expresses at not ever again being to do some of the things he enjoys most.

Or that we are now administering powerful drugs to his brother Chris to tackle his depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. And that we are making the final arrangements to send him away to his new family.

Or that I had to sit down with my wife and discuss ‘if the worst happens’. Or even that we will somehow have to move house in the next few weeks so as not to subject our immunity-suppressed son to the dangers of a rat-infested apartment (we can’t return home, as our house is occupied by squatters).

I can’t possibly inflict all this on my innocent co-workers. So in the best British tradition, I bite my lip and reply: ‘Fine thanks. How was yours?’