So, we’ve been playing a fun game since the start of September: it’s called ‘Pass-the-Pestilence’, and it goes like this. Someone, usually a child, brings an evil bug into the house, and it infects the rest of us, so we all take it in turns to feel like a bag of shite. At this present moment, we’re a cough and a splutter away from painting a red cross on the door. ‘My throat’s a bit scratchy,’ I say, and LSB retorts ‘Scratchy? You’re lucky, I feel like I’m swallowing shards of glass.’ Then he heads out to run 18 miles in the rain.
To add to our grievances, at the weekend the Small Child developed the chicken pox. It began as a snottery cold which floored her on Saturday, but come Sunday she seemed in much better form, and the phrase ‘caged lion’ could have been coined for her. To neutralise some of the energy within, I suggested a stroll up Cregagh Glen and all seemed well, as she took off up the hill in valiant strides. However, upon our return, bath time revealed tell-tale spots. ‘Bugger,’ we said. ‘It’s the pox.’ The poor child had some huge nasty looking blisters up by the next morning, and over the course of the week, we’ve all been feeling poorly, in a variety of ways. I suppose you can’t escape it; every time we go down to the school there’s at least two children with what looks like toxic waste coming from there nose. (No judgement by the way, ours are the same). Thank God they haven’t introduced water charges here, because my hands are raw from washing them after cleaning noses, including my own.
As an aside, have any of you, my esteemed readers, ventured up the Cregagh Glen? It is EXQUISITE, a sanctuary of beauty and calm, like a tropical oasis just off the carriageway. It amazes me every time. There’s even an ‘old-school’ rope swing, with a pair of elderly tights attaching the stick to the rope, which is a highlight for the kids, with it’s devil-me-care attitude to Health and Safety Regulations. Here is my child mid-flight:
LSB manged to stave off any symptoms until yesterday, when he looked peaky, and this morning he announced, ‘This cold is a real dick,’ as he sneezed into his granola. He has now upgraded it to a ‘viral infection’, and a sort of sickness ‘one-up-man-ship’ has emerged in the house. I felt better and was out and about, while he worked from the sofa. He even seemed slightly resentful of my good humour, since he himself felt so rancid. ‘What do you mean you feel better now and I still feel rotten? What lack-lustre strain did you get?’
Needless to say, the mood has at times been subdued. It’s hard looking after children when you feel like there’s a platoon of tiny mice with pickaxes trying to hack their way out of your skull. I couldn’t even get the folks up to help since Dad fell victim to shingles a few years back and we didn’t want to risk reigniting them. Bastard of a thing, shingles. Such was his dose that I ended up ringing a woman in Fermanagh who had a ‘charm’ for them, which she kindly posted to us. I can’t remember what form it took exactly, and nor can he, given his state of delirium, but it involved applying some unguent while reciting Biblical verses. Happily, it appeared to despatch the shingles sharpish, which may seem far-fetched, but we were quite convinced it worked.
My Dad is a great believer in divine intervention. As a student at Queen’s, the doctor told him he’d never play rugby again, which caused him terrible distress. But, resourceful young man that he was, he took himself to a faith healer who prayed over his ankle and Hallelujah, it worked, and back to the pitch he went. That was until some big fella tackled him, smashing his ribs to bits and putting him in the Royal. Mum said ‘No more rugby for you’ after that, because every time he inhaled he turned a lurid shade of green, and she couldn’t be doing with it.
I’m half way through Anne Lamott’s wonderful memoir ‘Travelling Mercies’, which renders me much more likely to believe in miracles. I see many similarities between Anne and myself, although even at my worst I didn’t binge drink beer that tasted of goat urine for an evening’s entertainment; give me a Hendricks and Fever Tree tonic anytime over that nonsense. Like me, she is also a poor patient, and tells a great story about having a raging head-ache, and asking her neighbour to drop her son off to school. That would have been fine, except the neighbour had stage four brain cancer. She justifies it by saying he was feeling chipper that day, so it wasn’t too great an imposition. I could just see me doing that to a kind-hearted friend. ‘Here, you, I know you’re mid-chemo, but would you mind leaving my pair down to their Spanish class? I’ve a fecker of a period this month.’
That’s a long-winded way of explaining why the blog has been quiet the past few days. It’s hard to concentrate when not only are you feeling poorly but a child is watching ‘The Little Princess’ loudly, for the umpteenth time. Of all the children’s programmes, I like ‘The Little Princess’ more than most, as Julian Clary does the voice of the narrator, which quite tickles me. However, after continual bombardment, I have taken to speaking in a Yorkshire accent, which even I find grates upon the nerves. But I must say, despite their respective ailments, the wee ones have been little troopers and I’m very proud of them. (Flip me, but Anne Lamott must be doing me some good.)