I AM in pain. Excruciating pain. And not just because I had to watch Theresa May’s speech.

After watching her nightmare, I awoke at four o’clock in the morning with a throbbing radiating from my right big toe. It felt as if it had been squashed flat by a 1,000 ton truck, then inflated with an industrial air pump until the skin was stretched tight to bursting point and someone was striking it with a hammer as if it were a gong: bong, bong, bong, throb, throb, throb.

And I woke up with the fear that the featherlight sheet would slip across it and somehow increase the pain.

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Yes, I’ve got gout, for the first time in my 50-odd years.

It is a condition that has plagued mankind for millennia. The ancient Egyptians were bedevilled by it, and our word for it comes from the Latin “gutta”, meaning “drop”, as it was believed that the blood dropped morbid materials – “the defluxion of humours” – into the toe joint.

That was a pretty fair diagnosis. Gout is caused by having too much uric acid in the blood which turns into gritty little crystals that drop into the joints and inflame them.

The Oxford English Dictionary says the word “gout” was first used in English in about 1290, when it was said to cause “anguische gret”, which is a pretty fair description.

The UK Gout Society says it is surprisingly common: one-in-14 men will be afflicted and one-in-35 women. Middle aged men, though, are the most likely victims.

I asked my GP what caused it. It is known as “the king’s disease” as it is associated with rich living and drinking, and there is a degree of truth in that. He turned to the GP’s version of Wikipedia, and printed out a list included alcohol, red meat (especially heart), herring, sardines and mussels, and Marmite and Bovril.

Plus, it said having two sugar-sweetened soft drinks a day increases the risk of gout by 85 per cent.

I am a sugar fiend. I weaned myself off wine – which I thought was bad for me – by keeping a jug of squash chilling in the fridge, and I like my tea black and sugary.

But a line in my GP’s notes really stood out: “Fructose-rich fruits and fruit juices may also increase the risk of gout.”

At the weekend, I collected four buckets of windfall apples from beneath our trees and juiced them. I like to do it every year because the juice is crystal clear and wonderfully clean. Because it is 100 per cent natural, I imagine it to be life-enhancing and far healthier than the mass-produced muck in the shop cartons.

And it connects me to the rhythms of nature – it’s as close as I get, in this supermarket-age of year-round produce, to a harvest festival.

This year, we’ve had a glut of apples all falling at once, so my juicing has been concentrated into one weekend. The fridge has been full of pints and pints of the purest rosey-green fructose-rich juice which I’ve been drinking to the exclusion of all else as I’m afraid, without any preservatives, it’d rapidly go off.

But now I wonder if every glug from the cup upped the throb in the toe until the night after Theresa’s nightmare, it exploded into an excruciating bout of gout.