The Queen has made her first appearance since going down with some lurgy, which is possibly this bronchial virus which has been going round. Having missed two major church services I assume she’ll excommunicate herself?
It seems that many people have been affected by this illness which hangs about for three-weeks and makes you sound like Jane Austen and Frederic Chopin before being carted off to a sanatorium in Eastbourne; I’ve already started saving up for a blanket and bath-chair. I knew those Green-Shield stamp books would come in handy.
In the mid-sixties peoples’ minds were temporarily taken off the ever-decreasing lengths of skirts as a possible smallpox scare hit our island. Everyone was encouraged to get inoculated against this killer disease; I remember queuing up outside my doctors on Balham High Road to get mine. Similar to going to foreign climes and the need to have a little bit of typhoid or West Nile Fever injected into you (you have to feel for the people of the West Nile having such a vicious disease named after their home town – it’d never happen in West Hampstead) the vaccine for smallpox is the bovine disease, cow pox. When this first began in 1796 satirical magazines showed cartoons of patients growing little cows from their limbs.
My mum got cow pox. It meant two things: if she got smallpox she’d be stuffed and secondly, she couldn’t be inoculated against it. Whilst she was ill she was forced to wear a bell, get milked twice away and only answered to the name of Daisy. It was rather typical of my mum – she and ailments went together like Pete ‘n’ Dud, Ron and Reg, Julian and Sandy. She rarely took me to school as she’d often have “one of her heads” – as a youngster I wonder quite how many heads she possessed? Could she remove them like Frankenstein’s monster? Was the The Exorcist based on my mum and her head-swapping ability?
Sadly, my mother could also pick up diseases by hearing about them on the TV. There could be a documentary about Dengue Fever on the telly one night, by early morning my mother thought she had the early symptoms. Always embarrassing being dropped at the school gates when one of your parents is ringing a bell screaming ‘unclean’.