The cold and flu season is upon us and whenever I find myself thus afflicted, I like to try to make the best of things. I notice that I am far more susceptible to infection when I am run-down, especially after a busy or stressful time at work.
When I was ill as a small child, I remember being read a story from the ’My Naughty Little Sister’ books by children’s writer Dorothy Edwards. The story was entitled ‘The cross spotty child’ and my Mum used to read it to me whenever I was ill. The story describes a little girl who is miserable with measles and how she was distracted from her scratching by the kindly Mrs Cocoa Jones who came to sit with her whilst her mother is out shopping. Mrs Cocoa Jones describes how her granny made a get-better box which she used to lend her grandchildren when they were ill.
Here is an extract from this enchanting little story:
It was a beautiful-looking box, because Mrs Cocoa’s old grandmother had stuck beautiful pieces of wallpaper on the lid and on the sides of the box, and Mrs Cocoa said that the wallpaper on the front was some that had been in her granny’s front bedroom, and that on the back had been in her parlour. The paper on the lid had come from her Aunty Kitty’s sitting room: the paper on one side had been in Mrs Cocoa’s mother’s kitchen, while the paper on the other side which was really lovely, with roses and green dickey birds, had come from Mrs Cocoa’s own bedroom wallpaper when she was a little girl!
My sister was so interested to hear this that she almost forgot about opening the box!
But she did open it, and she found so many things that I can only tell you about some of them.
On the top of the box she found a lovely piece shining stuff folded very tidily, and when she opened it out on her bed she saw that it was covered with round sparkly things that Mrs Cocoa called spangles. Mrs Cocoa said that it was part of a dress that a real fairy-queen had worn in a real pantomime. She said that the lady who had worked in the theatre had given it to her grandmother, long, long ago.
Under the sparkly stuff were boxes and boxes. Tiny boxes with pretty pictures painted on the lids, and in every box a nice little interesting thing. A string of tiny beads, or a little-little dollie, or some shells. In one box a very little paper fan, and in another there was a little laughing clown’s face cut of paper that Mrs Cocoa’s granny had stuck there as a surprise.
Even today, this story still captivates me, as does the memory of my lovely mum creating a real-life get better box filled with tiny curiosities such as a miniscule pair of binoculars, through which you could see the Eiffel Tower, and a tiny leather glove from a Victorian doll.
If we ever have grandchildren, I shall relish creating a get-better box for them to enjoy. In the meantime, I am putting together my own little box of comforts for when I am ill. So far it contains a pretty packet of hankies, some Vick, some eau de cologne, a scented candle and some gorgeous bed socks.
I think that when one gets a cold or flu, it is usually the body’s attempt to slow you down so that you can rest and recuperate. These days, when I am sick, I try to hibernate and luxuriate in the time off and savour some really good chicken soup served in a gorgeous bone china cup. It’s not always possible to go to bed, especially if one has a work deadline or young children but the promise of an early night and these small indulgences help speed recovery.