The pox has been visited upon us – two of the three children have spent the past week feverishly complaining and scratching at blistering spots and resemble something out of a Hogarth sketch depicting the perils of gin.
'Just remember, your mother deliberately did this to you,' Gully told Zena as she wriggled with discomfort and sobbed with the pain of a virulent headache. There was some truth in this. While at my sister's house on Christmas day another family due to spend the day there had telephoned to say they had awoken with chicken pox and would I prefer it if they delayed their arrival until after we had left.
Buoyed up with mulled wine and Budweiser, I airily instructed them to come as planned. As it was, we spent all of 20 minutes together in the same house so one has to say 'respect' to the varicella-zoster virus – now that's survival.
But what seemed like a good plan in the warmth and alcoholic glow of Christmas lost something in practice. I have long worried about coping with illness in the caravan – by which I mean run-of-the-mill illnesses – clearly having a coronary or contracting Chrohn's disease would render living in a caravan the least of one's problems.
Top of the list of Illnesses We Do Not Want is some sort of vomiting bug. We once had the pleasure of three of these in two months and the memory has stayed with me. Quite how we would cope with the norovirus without a washing machine or taps or a flushing loo is an area of speculation that I prefer to avoid.
While in comparison, the fall out from chicken pox is much easier to deal with, there are certainly elements missing from our lifestyle that could have made it less uncomfortable. A soothing bath, for instance, might have been helpful. And, if you're going to be holed up for days on end (Brownies didn't want us and neither did our home ed group) a comfy sofa and a few DVDs even more so.
Still, they did very well. Two down – one to go – then not only can I cross that off the childhood milestones, but add it to my mental checklist of Adverse Conditions We Have Coped With.