No Cutty Sark for spotty Lynne

The Cutty Sark... maybe next time. Picture: Alison Connors.

The Cutty Sark... maybe next time. Picture: Alison Connors. - Credit:

Lynne was hoping for a lovely break in Greenwich... but in the mean time...

t was a funny old week.

A two-day trip to London with my daughter; afternoon tea on the Cutty Sark, shopping at Westfield - it didn't happen.

Instead, flattened by a reaction to some infection-fighting drugs, I found myself in hospital with spotty legs (my legs, that is), having tests. In the neighbouring bed - shielded from view but not from hearing - the next patient was attempting to produce a phlegm sample.

This was not at all how I had imagined my week's holiday.

It all began by not feeling hungry in a Michelin three-rosette restaurant. This is like finding yourself stuck in a lift with George Clooney and discovering you don't fancy him after all.

After a bad night in the hotel, which abutted the main train lines at Stratford, I was feeling dreadful and barely able to walk, Disappointed, Ruth and I decided to get the next train home.

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I hadn't been to the Cutty Sark since the 1960s when my Greenwich cousins, Steven and Susan, took me to see it. Their house backed on to a cemetery and Steven scared me silly with tales of the dead rising from their graves and floating about, looking into windows to find wakeful six-year-old girls.

No wonder it took me 58 years to go back... except that I didn't.

After another sleepless night, I felt considerably worse and had developed spots. My GP looked at them and sent me to the hospital, concerned I might have something.

I know the NHS cannot always respond as quickly and completely as it would like, but I was in awe of the incredible logistical exercise involved in making sure one floppy 64-year-old got sorted out. They were expecting me when I arrived and I was shown to a bed where my blood pressure, heart rate and temperature were measured.

Someone asked if I would like Lancashire hotpot, a cheese and onion pasty or chicken supreme. I considered what these might be like and decided to pass.

A young man (was he actually old enough to be out at work?) fitted a cannula into a vein and took a good armful of blood off to the lab to sate the feeding frenzy of the vampiric haematologists, and then a doctor looked at my spots with interest. They had appeared on my feet that morning and spread upwards.

"How far have they reached?" he asked and we decided they had got as far as my chest - putting me in mind of the immortal lines of Benny Hill's milkman Ernie, when his beloved Sue says she'd like to bathe in milk:

"And when he finished work one night

"He loaded up the cart

"He said, 'D'you want it pasteurised?

"Cause pasteurised is best?'

"She says, 'Ernie I'll be happy

"If it comes up to me chest.'

"And that tickled old Ernie..."

By now, the most pressing item on my agenda was getting home to my husband, who was awaiting further instructions.

In the end, I was prescribed a short course of steroids (these will not help my Olympic ambitions) and some extremely large antibiotics and sent home, where I have been languishing ever since. I am feeling a bit better and I am managing to eat again... mainly choc ices.

I just wish I could get rid of this ear-worm... "His name was Ernie, and he drove the fastest milk cart in the west."

n There is, I believe, such as thing as muscle memory which kicks in when you perform repetitive tasks. This, presumably, means you don't have to have a complete schedule of works in your head at all times - which is just as well because I do get forgetful sometimes.

And it's not just me. At a party recently it took me, a retired solicitor and a leading local councillor to remember the name of the actor who played Gandhi. Each of us could see his face and contribute the name of another film he was in... Schindler's List; The Jungle Book.

"Ben Kingsley!" announced the councillor triumphantly.

"Sir...," I added lamely.

Then there are the things you do every day but suddenly start to doubt.

I shower every morning, clean my teeth, brush my hair, put on deodorant, dress and go downstairs for my cup of tea and head off to work. Two hours later, I review my day so far. Did I put on deodorant? No-one seems to have spoken to me much today... is it because I smell? Will my colleagues notice if I sniff my armpits? If they do, they're too polite to mention it.

The other day, my husband, who was in the kitchen, uttered a mild expletive.

"What is it?" I called from my sick-sofa.

"I can't remember if I put the capsule in the washing machine. I'll have to empty it out and see."

This is one of my favourites, too. Putting on a wash-load should be second nature but, unfortunately, my second nature is no longer to be trusted and my first nature is not 100-per-cent reliable either.