Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Last Tuesday night, at around 3 in the morning, Rachel was awoken by a small, clammy hand and the worrying declaration, "Mummy, I think I might be on fire."

Sleepily aware this might be worth getting out of bed for, Rachel checked Dylan for flames. As a precaution she also shoved a thermometer under his arm and found that - despite being flame-free - he had a temperature of over 40 degrees.

After the long task of convincing Dylan he wasn't actually on fire, Rachel filled him up with Calpol and went all Florence Nightingale until the doctors surgery opened in the morning.

Being a considerate citizen, and having nothing else to do at ridiculously-early-o-clock, Rachel sent an email to his teacher and the parents of his classmates to let them know a bug was going round. At about 7 the first reply arrived: "Rachel, no one else knows this but a child in the class has swine flu. You might want to get Dylan tested." At about 7.10 the second email arrived. "Hate to tell you, but Esmerelda (names have been changed to protect the innocent) has swine flu. Not supposed to tell anyone, but thought you ought to know."

By the time Rachel had finished her cup of tea and checked Facebook (oh, and ensured Dylan was still breathing) most of the class had informed her that 'although no one else in the class knew', Esmerelda was a victim of the evil H1N1

Convinced she had sired (madam-ed?) a potential piglet, Rachel whisked the swine off to the doctors to be tested. Two minutes later she learnt that Dylan had the seasonal strain of flu rather than the porcine variety - the only evident distinguishing symptom being the lack of social ostracism.

By this time, the school had gone on red alert. Every child had their temperature taken on arrival and those showing the slightest evidence of warmth or sprouting curly tails were sent home immediately and told not to return for 7 days.

Jodie - whose normal temperature registers at about 37.2 - was sent in to school the next day with strict instructions to keep her mouth closed and her arms locked against her body.

By the following Sunday, Rachel had decided Dylan was completely better (a decision swayed by him changing the settings on her computer and downloading images of himself as screensavers) and immorally flouted the 7 day rule by sending him back to school. At the classroom door, she bumped into Esmerelda, who was also ignoring the 7 day rule, to the obvious horror of all the parents who, of course, didn't know she'd secretly had swine flu.

Meanwhile, Annabelle, whose daughter Elouise had been sent home for making the mistake of coughing to clear her throat, called the school nurse to find out when she could bring her back in. The response was that, 'as a precaution', Elouise should stay off until Tuesday.

The moral of this blog is that it is usually better to ask forgiveness than to ask permisson.