Thank you to the members of the Yorkshire Expats Forum, for their generosity in sending me their experiences of being poorly when they were children.



I must have been only about 5 or 6 years old when the rotten little lad who lived up our street chucked a stone at me, hitting me smack right between the eyes. The main thing I remember of the event is being carried into the house with blood fair pouring out in all directions. Panic stricken mums laid me on the kitchen table, cleaning me up then putting talc on the wound to stop the blood - and it worked! Years later I still have a small scar where the stone hit me but will never forget the healing properties of good old talc.
I remember Zeke's Fennings Little Healers, but there was something else by
Fennings and I just remebered, they made a paper wrapped Fennings Fever
Powders and gripe water (I think they were called) what I can remember
clearer is the taste, poured onto the tongue and washed back with only a
splash of water. Reflecting back I think they must have been made up of
mainly quinine.
I can't remember ever having to take one, but almost every gable end of the
terraced rows had advertisements for Back and Liver Pills or Carters Little
Liver Pills (I rember thinking as a kid that Carter's Pills would make your
liver bigger)
Where did chapped hands go to? Everybody had chapped hands wen I wer a nip,
we had the chemist make up a bottle of Glycerine and Opodeldoc , rubbed on
chapped hands before bed and wake up with a pair of new hands.

Camphorated oil rubbed on the chest, I'm convinced that was what rotted
those sticky rubber buttons on liberty bodices. (Camphorated oil was a
better option than stinking goose grease I reckon)

Various poultices for all sorts of ailments from bruises to boils, comfrey,
bread and Kaolin were some I remember.

Sugar, butter and vinegar for coughs and sore throats (added honey if we
were at my grannies)

Junior aspirin for everything.

Malt and cod liver oil ...... and I liked that would you believe?

Minadex if my mam had the money to buy it.

Remember Virol? I had asthma as a kid and was sent to see a specialist in
Sheffield, I had to provide an early morning sample of sputum and the only
suitable container that my mam had was an empty Virol jar, washed it out and
just about choked a sample of spit from me into it. My mam dragged me and my
new born sister to Sheffield on the bus and as soon as we booked in she was
asked for my sample, baby in one arm and fumbling through her handbag she
managed to find the new replacement jar and handed that over instead. If you
can't remember Virol it was a dark brown disgusting looking sticky gunk that
you dipped babies dummies in to pacify em. I saw the specialist and he never
mentioned the sample, I suspect I would be marked down as one of the
youngest ever pneumoconiosis suffers when the lab. technician opened the
It was December 17 1940. I was 12 and it was end of term and we watched a
Will Hay film in the School Hall. I felt dreadful and so went home. Anyway
the doctor came around quite quickly and called an ambulance to take me to

I had peritonitis and it was touch and go. They in fact asked for an
announcement at Derby LMS station for my parents to return to the hospital.
Anyway I survived. For some reason I was in an adult ward an (probably
because I was a major surgical case) and was thoroughly spoiled by staff and
patients alike, the latter included military wounded.

Anyway I was soon feeling better although the daily drainage tube withdrawal
was quite unpleasant. I suppose it was Christamas Eve when I woke up and
there was this dark hooded creature leaning right over the bed. Thought my
time had come. I screamed and the lights went on and there was Father
Christmas leaving me presents.

I was in DRI for 6 weeks and off school for another month. Had caught up by
exam time though.
I don't really know if this is relevant or not, as it's about an accident
rather than illness, but it has a bit of a spiritual story behind it that
was passed on to me from my mother.

When I was about three years old my Mother's mother over by a WMC
trip bus. I was talking to someone upstairs apparently, and when mum asked
me who, I replied "Grandma" She patiently explained that grandma was in
heaven, but I was insistent. This troubled her, so she went to visit the
spiritualist lady close by. Her verdict after talking to me about this was
that mum wasn't to worry, grandma was watching over me, but that I'd have an
accident involving machinery which would result in a broken bone. The next
day I fell off my new trike and broke a collar bone.

Mum doesn't have any claims to clairvoyance, but she does have ability in
that direction. She's been too right too many times to be able to deny it.
We've always accepted it as normal within the family, but non-family members
get a bit weirded out by it.
And who remembers the dreaded lurgy....impetigo? I have a image of a skinny
kid with a "basin cut", national health specs with one lens taped over with
pink plaster, shorts past his knees held up with ancient braces AND the
ever-present snake belt...baggy stockings held up with knicker elastic and
pumps 2 sizes too big. And to put the icing on poor Freddy's cake....blobs
of gentian violet all over his phizzog!

By the time I was about four years old I was in possession of the reliable
medical opinion that a person whose temperature reached 104 degrees was at
death's door and that there was no possibility of recovery. So it was that
on one occasion I was confined to bed with a fever of some description and
was deteriorating by the hour. We had no phones in those days and a letter
would have been far too late, so poor Dad was sent a mile to summon the
doctor to attend at once. Doctor Riley was a kindly elderly chap, very very
posh but with no "edge" at all. This was before the NHS and those who
couldn't afford to pay were still treated without question. He came quickly
and took my temperature, and shaking down his thermometer with a serious
expression, declared "Hmmmmm 102 !!" I burst into uncontrollable tears and
screeched that as it was still rising I was definitely going to pass on very
soon - a course of the feared and dreaded Fenning's Fever Cure, and an
update on the fatal fahrenheit figure, saved the day !!

Shortly afterwards I was sentenced to having my tonsils out at the
Coronation Coittage Hospital in Ilkley. I insisted that Wilfred came with me
to see me through the ordeal. Wilfred was my knitted woollen rabbit, grey
with red chest and tongue, who had been made for me in the London blitz by
one of my favourite aunties. Coming round slowly from the dreadful ether I
was taken home by taxi with indecent haste and instructions to eat some ice
cream to soothe the operation site - where was ice cream to be had as the
War raged ?? Anyway I soon realised that poor Wilfred was still on the
operating table, suffering goodness knows what fate - the mind boggles - and
so poor Dad, still limping badly from his WW1 wounds, was sent back
immediately to storm the defences and rescue Wilfred at all costs !!
As a child I was raised in Africa, so we got illnesses like bilharizia -
which was caught from swimming in stagnant rivers - of course we were warned
not to do so, but we were kids and thought we were invincible! Many of my
friends caught bilharzia and in those days treatment was a HUGE
needle..............I was one of the lucky ones....

another illness around Africa/India - my old stomping grounds - is
filiarisis - this is caused by mosquitos infecting the lymph glands and
causing no end of trouble. It was also known at one time as elephantisis
because untreated, limbs and head would swell to a huge proportion..........

I returned to the UK in my 30's and had never had, nor been vaccinated
against, nor even heard of the usual 'UK childhood conditions' of measles,
chicken pox, german measles etc.

One morning, about 6 months after I arrived in the UK, I woke up with a
really huge neck, could barely swallow, was in agony and looked really
puffed around the neck and face. I panicked, made an appointment with the
doctor and told the receptionist on the other end of the phone that I
thought I had 'elephantisis'. She was dumbstruck -as she would be - poor
woman had probably never heard of this condition! - so I trotted off to the
GP office expecting to get tretament for elephantisis - and he told me I had

Apparently, it is common in children but quite dangerous in adults! I was in
pain for a long time and it took a long time to get my neck back to a normal

Ironically, I went to live in India about 4 years later - and returned
with - you guessed it - filiaris! Though I hasten to add, not all filiarial
infection causes elephant man symptoms - though I would like to pretend that
my excess weight is due to the condition! lol. Anyway, it may have left me
disabled, but at least I can't get mumps again! Or can I???? Gosh, that was
the worst thing I have ever had!
 One of my Mum;s cure alls was Licorice Powder, revolting stuff she mixed in
a cup with milk and you had to drink it. When she died I was off colour, as
you can guess, I was fretting for her.
Dad was upset about me so he mixed a big cup of licorice powder and milk and
made me drink it. I had the trots for days!!!

Another cure for a sore throat was to wind the sweaty part of your sock foot
round your neck finish off with the leg to keep it there all night.

I suffered continual styes on my eyes from 10-11 yrs of age. She made a tea
of camomile flower heads to bathe my eyes and then when the stye was ripe
she used her wedding ring to burst it. I can still feel the agony now.

Then we had a very large bottle of TCP (?) in the cupboard was used for all
wounds and scratches/

Finally I was given Dr Blaud's pills (iron pills) and somebody's pills for
pale people, yuk.

Oh dear, Liqurafruita (can't spell that) for coughs, disgusting taste but it
Spoonful of cod liver oil everyday for good health.
I remember having measles, mumps and chicken pox. I think the worst was
chicken pox. I remember having to tell my mum when she was putting calomine
lotion on me, that I had a spot in a "rude place"
She just said "Well when I've finished, you can see to that one yourself, if
you would rather."
So I did.
Oh I know! Mum used to give me hot bread and milk when I was poorly.
Yuk I hated it! the hot milk made the bread go all slimey 

We called them milk pobs Jacky.
I remember staying in bed on Sunday mornings. Dreaded getting up because i
knew i would be made to take chocolate laxative!..Don't know why..can't ever
remember being constipated.
Can't eat dark chocolate to this day! -
As a small child of about nine months I was not very strong. The only information I have of my health at this time is what my parents told me as I grew up.
I had a constricted oesophagus which caused me great difficulty in getting food down and keeping it there so much so that I did not put on weight as normal therefore, I had problems, the main one being trouble with my eyes.
You may be surprised to know that the high-tech medical solution to my problem was for the specialist at the hospital to poke his finger down my throat and clear the offending passage.
I developed a squint in my left eye so much so that I had to have three operations on the muscles which controlled the position and focusing of both eyes which still bother me to this day.
I remember, some times, coming home from school, walking down the garden path and seeing two front doors which would slowly merge together as I approached them.
Three times, in my early pre-teens, I was admitted to the Queen’s Royal Hospital in Sheffield to have work done on my eyes. Dad took great pleasure in telling me I would have my eyes exercised by hitting me on the back of the head with a hammer and, when my eyes popped out, they would be exercised much like a runner going round a race track.
Although I went into hospital three times, those three times merged into one as far as remembering them. For instance, my parents brought me an individual trifle which they said I could eat when I came out of the operation and had the bandages removed from my eyes. Unfortunately, my greed got the better of me and each night I stuck my finger in the trifle, which was in my locker, and when the big day came all I had to show for it was an empty, sticky trifle case, I haven’t changed much since then, I still can’t keep my hands off food!
Normally, when one is in hospital one gets better, not me.
I was sliding along the polished floor one day when I slipped and managed to cut open my head on one of the beds.
Another sad story of my time in hospital was when my parents brought some books of mine for me to read and I was dismayed to find out that I would not be able to take them home with me as there was supposed to be a risk of infection. I lost those books due to the stupidity of the medical profession of those days.
Back then in that hospital there were no children’s wards, children were simply put in with in with all the ‘old folks’, but this wasn’t altogether a bad thing as I was often given sweets and chocolates by the older patients who had neither the appetite nor the teeth to get through them!
Sadly, that great hospital is no longer with us but has made the way for firstly, a car park and secondly, an office block.
I had jaundice as a child and I think it came at Christmas time at least I can remember lying on the old, saggy settee, trying to sum up enough energy to enjoy the festive season while the rest of the family took turns in helping me open my presents.
September 1949 to 1951 I attended Highgate Infant’s School.
My main memories of this period of my life are not all good. As I was not
a very healthy child I was often sent home from school in a bit of a state
due to a weak bladder and worse! As I walked home form school, the
other children, (I use that term loosely), would throw dirt at me which
would invariably stick to my legs due to a coating of what can only be
described as liquid effluvium!
I remember having the measles.

I was laid in a bed near the fire - our only source of heating.

The only light in the middle of the room had newspaper shading my side of
the light.

There was a wooden clothes horse with an old army blanket over it also to
shield me from the light.

I got lots of attention - and it was lovely.

I remember when I had my tonsils out.
I was brought home and given presents and ice cream to soothe my sore throat
Marlene C
Remember Galloways chough Syrup?

When staying with my Grand Mother, my brother and I were given Syrup of Figs
every Friday evening before going to bed.

Zambuck for chilblains... Ohh so painful.
At infant school, I used to PRAY that I would get a wart, cos the teachers
used to 'buy warts' off them kids that had them, giving them a penny to take
home and they were told to rub the wart with it, and lo and behold IT
WORKED!!!! What was the secret?? I never did find out.

Bumps and grazes were treated with 'yellow magic' which stained the skin for
days and days, in adulthood, I came to the conclusion that it was
acriflavine ointment.

My nannan would rub our chests with goose grease, and give us boiled onions
mashed with butter for a cold, and a small pat of butter rolled in sugar for
sore throats.

Zambuk was always on hand for cuts and grazes. Vinegar soaked rags for

BUT - the best one yet, I reckon - if a kid had a bad cough, even
bronchitis, they would go to where they were doing roadworks and let the kid
breathe in the fumes from the TAR!!!!   What would they think of this