I'm four years old. I'm in a isolation hospital, which is now, thank God, a superior housing development, and I am in a coma.
My parents are desperate. My mother climbed onto the old bridge over the River Severn. She wanted to jump.
I recovered. Recovery was so rare, the doctors called it a miracle. I had a cerebral heamorrhage precipitated by whooping cough. I remember it. My earlist memories were of coughing fit to burst until something did burst, a vessel in my brain. I recovered, but with a limp, and I had seizures for years afterwards. I remember waking up from them, ravenous, and my father and mother, so relieved, so glad to have me back, willing to go out in the middle of the night to get me anything I wanted.
My best friend and constant playmate, in those earliest years, was Gary, the boy next door. One bright summer's day we fished for tiddlers and plashed unheedingly in the stream behind the shops at Matson. I remember the sun on the water, our laughter ...
Three days later, Gary couldn't come out to play. Three weeks later he was dead. I know where he is buried, in the churchyard at St Katherine's, Matson. For years afterwards I would go and sit beside his grave and chat to him. His tiny memorial, ' From Friends and Neighbours' has long since vanished, as has the bent yew tree under which he was buried.
"Polio" My parents whispered, so glad it wasn't me, so sad for Agnes and Brian, going through the agony of losing a child.
Thirty years ago I had to think about having my daughters vaccinated. It was a tough decision, really it was, but because I remembered, I hardly hesitated.
I feel for parents of babies today who have to weigh the possibilities and choose for their own children.
Talk to people who remember the terrible days when babies and young children:- their friends, brothers, class-mates, cousins - died of vaccine-preventable deseases. And listen. We're better than the internet, because we were there.