I will start by addressing the burning question of the day. No, not who won the US election but whether I have put my central heating on yet.
The answer is, “Yes.” I succumbed at the start of November.
We are in lockdown again here in the UK and some friends and I were musing on the ‘flu epidemic of 1976. To be honest, I don’t know if there really was an epidemic in the country at large or whether it was just at our special school for the visually impaired, Chorleywood College. But you can imagine how fast an infectious illness travels at a boarding school. Our sick bay had eight beds. There were two two-bed rooms and one four-bed. In no time at all these were all taken and dormitories were being pressed into service as sick bay extensions.
This all happened in my O-level year. One of the books we were studying for English Literature, which we called “English Lit”, was Shakespeare’s Henry V. I generally like Shakespeare’s plays, but Henry V is not one of my favourites.
As it happened, the famous film adaptation with Laurence Olivier was being screened at the local community centre, and our form were due to go. When it came to the evening in question, however, there were only two of us left standing. So, we set off with the new P.E. teacher, whom we really liked, because she was friendly and funny and easy to talk to.
Now, I know this film is much loved by Olivier fans but, I’m sorry to say, it did absolutely nothing for me. Henry could have gone once more into the breach until doomsday as far as I was concerned and I would still have been completely unmoved. It was all utterly unmemorable. In fact, the only aspect of the film that sticks in my mind at all is the recollection that the French king sounded a little bit like Kojak when he laughed. Unfortunately, at the time this gave me the giggles and, all in all, I didn’t take the occasion very seriously at all.
My friend and I felt quite smug that we were the only two members of our form well enough to go to the film. And we got to go with our favourite teacher.
Karma kicked in, though, and the following day we duly succumbed to the ‘flu.
A bed in sick bay must have come free just as I staggered along to Surgery as I soon found myself in the privileged position of being housed in the first of the proper two-bed sick-bay rooms, with the added bonus of sharing the room with someone from my form.
All in all, that stay in sick bay wasn’t too bad. Sometimes, though, it could be a very lonely place. I’ll tell you more about that next week.