December 26, 2013 at 8:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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Tough love.

Tough love.

When I was three or four, Mum took me by surprise to our local hall.

The metal fold-up chairs had been swept aside.

In the resulting space, a man in a white coat stood by a table.

Beside him were two young women in blue.

Before them was a line of mothers and toddlers – most of whom were screaming.

As we joined the queue, I perceived the source of tension.

One by one, each mother proffered her offspring.

A woman in blue steadied it, bared its arm and turned it to the man in white.

He then produced a syringe – at which point toddlers behaved variously.

Writhing and shrieking were common.

These were met with tighter grips and imprecations – which began softly but rose in intensity (and fell in tenor) according to how long each infant held out.

Very few children took the suggestion to look away as the needle pierced their flesh.

The great majority stared aghast, attaining ever higher decibels.

Beyond the table, discharged combatants reeled and railed as if drunk.

Only the few who’d looked away seemed relatively calm.

My panic rose as we approached.

When firm hands pushed up my cardigan sleeve I fought to pull it down.

I was sure my mother’s hand-knitted love would protect me, if only I could keep it on.

But after three rounds of back and forth the hands turned hard and I was pinned.

Mum urged me to cooperate, arguing that the injection would save me from getting sick.

At the last moment I looked away and braced for agony.

To find that the build-up and spectacle were far worse than the pain.

On the way home, I began to worry.

What if Teddy were in the same danger of disease that I’d been?

The demise of my most precious possession and friend was unthinkable: I had to act.

Later that day I took a needle from Mum’s sewing basket.

It was terribly hard to hurt Teddy, but I thought it for the best.

After agonising for a long time, I immunised him via his left paw (the same side I’d been injected).

Looking at him now, 45 years later, I see eight pin holes.

Testament to my terror of losing him to maladies barely conceived.

Teddy was extraordinarily brave.

He never uttered a sound.

Our injections worked.

And we’re together yet.


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.



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  1. Memories indeed!

    I think I was so scared that I didn’t notice the reactions of my school mates as we went through the process. But we all survived.

    And I’m very glad Teddy was brave and has lived a long, healthy life.

    • Thank you, Desolie. I’m very glad YOU made it. For blogging would be a much lonelier affair without your enduring support. Kind regards, P. 🙂

  2. I fainted!
    I can’t believe how thoughtless l was to not consider my precious ted’s survival – thank goodness he’s made of enduring stuff as well as love
    Phew! 😉

    • Is that a fact, Linda?! From a dramatic perspective, I wish you’d been in my group! 😉 Thank you for sharing; it’s nice to know girls had teds too. Kindest regards, P. 🙂

  3. I can’t believe you remember that. My memory fails to go back that far, unfortunately. Loved the tale about you immunising Teddy, too. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face today.

    • I’m delighted your dropped by, Micky. I can see that brilliant smile from here! I enjoyed your possum xmas poem too. Kind regards, P. 🙂

  4. H’mmm, my reflection is that it was nowhere near as depressing or scary as that! Being a bit older than you Paul, probably means mass immunization was in its infancy when I had my first experience of it at primary school. We all lined up, rolled up our sleeves and shuffled past the doctor who used the same needle on each of us after waving it cursorily through a gas flame. However, mercifully, I don’t think I’ve been traumatized by the episode.

    • What a wonderfully grounding perspective, Winston! I now realise I was so caught up in my memory that I didn’t even consider the fate of an earlier generation. Your view has added great depth to this narrative. And the single syringe with the gas flame is an extremely powerful image. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Kind regards, P. 🙂

  5. 🙂 Lovely story

  6. My main memory of vaccinations was the smell of the stuff they used to wipe your arm. They use something different now… not nearly as pungent. I’m just wondering why you had to stab teddy eight times? A bit excessive wasn’t it? 🙂

    • Hi, PP! That’s an evocative image you just conjured. Funny how smells can really stay with us. I agree my regime with Teddy was extreme. In addition to it being born of fear, I’m also a pragmatist. I wanted to cover all possible illnesses in one hit – before any struck. I’m also a bit obsessive-compulsive (which makes me a fabulous proofreader). I don’t know if my OCD were manifest at age three, but you never know. With kind regards and many thanks for your comment, P. 🙂

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