Back about 1970, soon after Christmas, I caught a bout of mumps. I was twenty-three then, and at that age it's not really a good idea to acquire this little issue...
My flatmate had got it first, just before the party season, and he came off pretty bad because of the complications which mean that the old system gets attacked from all angles if you're not careful! He just went out on the razzle, and told me later that 'they turned black'... 'Nuff said!
So of course, because we shared the same flat, etc, I was bound to get the lumps on the neck and sure enough they arrived with a sickening prospect. In those days, family doctors actually made house visits, and my doctor confirmed that I was in for a few days of unpleasantness, but if I was careful, and didn't move around any more than I had to, I should be alright. We even discussed whether I could watch the Barbarians rugby match that day, and he thought it would be a risk, so I missed that.
I suppose most kids get mumps early on, but I was terrified of the potential consequences, and stayed immobile in bed at home, looked after by doting parents. To say immobile is an understatement. I can remember lying still for the whole of each day, just getting up for necessities, but eating was jolly painful and so was drinking - especially sharp things, so life wasn't a bowl of cherries.
My dear mum collected a load of books for me to read, and one of these was 'A town like Alice', by Nevil Shute. I read the whole book, cover to cover, in one day, and was totally immersed in such fabulous writing. I'm sure reading such a gripping story made me feel better at the time too - something about others being worse off I suppose!
I ordered it from our library recently, and a brand new copy arrived after some time - surprisingly, but in brand new condition, so I wonder if they can get these reprints of classics done as a matter of course - I'll ask them!
I started it late last evening, and within seconds was totally hooked again, just as I was all those years ago! It's an incredible story and as I'm a slower reader now, it'll be a couple of days this time, but at some stage of reading it again last night, I just considered a quick peep under the clothes to make sure that - er - the extremities were still unaffected...