17 Jun


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My Lovely wife and a roll of sweets…

Here’s another retelling of a childhood experience of mine.

I was nine or ten and I had the flu. Not man-flu or boy-flu but all-round concentrated vindictive nasty flu. I can remember it even now because I don’t think I’ve been quite so ill as I was then, not once, not in over sixty years. If I wasn’t hot I was cold. If I wasn’t shivering I was sweating. And even when I had to get up from my bed and lie downstairs near the only heating in the house I was too hot or too cold and never just right.

The linoleum (back then we didn’t have carpets, but rag rugs on top of linoleum) was deliciously cold to my seating face when I rolled off the settee and pressed my skin against it and yet, half an hour later, all I wanted to do was crawl into the solid fuel fire and bask in any heat it might be giving off.

I felt truly wretched.

And I had nightmares, rabid dreams in which nothing was nice. I can’t remember any of the details now, thank goodness, just that they existed in my head. Nightmares are probably the best reason for us to find dreams hard to remember.

My mum was a widow. I was around ten, my brother (who escaped this bout of flu) was at school, aged around seven, and that was the household. No car – there were only eight houses on our street and one car between them – a Bond three-wheeler with a kick-start and noisy exhaust next door. It would have been the early fifties and rock’n’roll was just being invented, towns and cities were still scarred from the destruction of World War 2 and there was still rationing of quite a lot of things. In short, life was waiting for a wake-up call and one small boy’s life was about to get just that.

The flu started to retreat.

The worst of its symptoms were being given their marching orders by my immune system and I was, thankfully, on my way to recovery. And mum went shopping, to return with a get-well gift for her son Peter.

Some sweets.

Now let me put those sweets into some kid of perspective.

Sweets contain quite a lot of sugar and sugar was still amongst the items rationed by Government decree as a result of war restrictions (until September 1953) so small boys like me didn’t get so many of them. All my life so far sweets had been a luxury I didn’t get so often, which probably explains why in my seventies I’ve still got most of my teeth. I lived through those years and even I find it hard to imagine a world like the one I grew up in … hardly any sweets, frost on the inside of bedroom windows in winter, building sites where bombs had fallen a decade earlier, short trousers into your teens, very few television sets anywhere near me, no hint of computers or video games and certainly no mobile phones … I should imagine younger readers just can’t imagine themselves in such a world.

The sweets my mum thought I’d like came in a paper roll. An effervescent kind of fruity fizzy confection, they were (and still are) called Refreshers. And you know what? As the flu bug gave up the ghost and went elsewhere the fizzing sweets popped and crackled in my mouth and for a moment it seemed they were the cause of my recovery.

Did I say for a moment?

I meant for quite a long time. Weeks, maybe. And thereafter I’ve always wondered, always had the hint of a suggestion, that those sweets actually positively pushed the flu out of my body and sent it on its way.

And if they didn’t, if all they consisted of was sugar and bicarbonate of soda and acid and all they did was effervesce, they represented a sudden and great lightness in a grey world. As I said, I didn’t have so many sweet confections back then, and this time I had a whole roll to myself!

I still like those sweets and a few months ago supplies seemed to dry up. But there are a few outlets where they might be bought, which is good. After all, they not only cured a bad bout of flu but, well, work it out for yourself: I’ve not suffered from flu since then! That’s more than sixty years of release from the dreaded bug, and it might just be because I sometimes find myself buying a roll of refreshers if I chance to see one!

© Peter Rogerson 17.06.15



  1. georgiakevin June 21, 2015 at 1:51 am #

    You are such a good writer sir. Your blog is going to be made in to a book isn’t it?

    • Peter Rogerson June 21, 2015 at 7:56 am #

      Could be, I suppose. I hadn’t really considered it, though in the past I have used Lulu.com for such purposes.

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