Saturday 20 October 2007


Every now again, somebody tells you something that suddenly puts your own woes and sorrows into perpective and you say, "Well, at least I'm not as badly off as X!" or, in my case, at least I'm not as badly off as my Guest Blogger today, Glasgow-based journalist and writer, SHARON MAIL, who recounts a tale with, unfortunately, a bit of bite in it...


"Britain is in the grip of a record outbreak of ticks and fleas – and the wet summer and recent mild weather is to blame." Metro, Sunday Oct 14, 2007

IT'S NICE TO BE POPULAR and I generally get on well with people. However, my popularity has reached epidemic proportions and I’m far from happy with it.

A few weeks ago, following a working visit to Auschwitz, I got what I thought was a cluster of midge bites on my leg. The following week, another small group on an arm. Two weeks later, they were still itching and suddenly I found myself with a couple of dozen new ones on my legs. The next morning, about the same number again appeared on the top half of my body and many of the ones on my legs had turned to blisters. "Go to the doctor," everyone said.

So I did. And what did the locum medic say? "Gosh, I know it’s not much help to you, but this looks really interesting." After much humming and hawing he ruled out bites or shingles (because of the volume and spread) and chickenpox – which I’ve already had twice, thanks very much. His gut feeling was that they were the manifestation of a viral infection.

That night, after clocking the latest crop of red blotches to appear, I saw a tiny black speck – shaped like a grain of rice – on the white blouse I’d just taken off. Suddenly it started to move …. and then it hopped! I lost it – and then found it elsewhere on the blouse – or perhaps it was another of the blessed little blighters. I grabbed a tissue and squeezed for dear life – it kept moving. I squeezed harder – it tried to escape. I managed to flush it down the loo.
The truth had at last dawned on me – I wasn’t suffering from some peculiar manifestation of an infection. No, I had fleabitis!

I’ve bunged the bed linen on a high temperature wash and hoovered and sprayed my bedroom. Let us spray that I’ve exterminated the little sods – but somehow I doubt it.

I don’t know where they came from – we’ve got a chinchilla, but they don’t get fleas. Perhaps it was when I was in London recently at the Gielgud Theatre watching the Scottish play. When Banquo uttered his last words, "Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!" some little darlings may have misheard and - thinking the instruction was "Fly, good fleas and fly, fly, fly!" - managed to hop onto me!

All I would like is for them to stop treating me like a gourmet meal (I must now be listed in the Fleagon Ronay Guide) but I’ve no desire to enter The Guinness Book of Records for flea bites and blisters obtained!

Rotten luck, Sharon! And, from latest news received, I gather the search and the struggle go on... Keep up the fight and may cleanliness ultimately prevail! Any helpful hints from readers will doubtless be appreciated...

Meanwhile, Sharon will just have to take comfort from the fact that many others have suffered before her - including at least one of our great poets...

John Donne

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,

And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.

Thou know'st that this cannot be said

A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;

Yet this enjoys before it woo,

And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two;

And this, alas! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, yea, more than married are.

This flea is you and I, and this

Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.

Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,

And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.

Though use make you apt to kill me,

Let not to that self-murder added be,

And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?

Wherein could this flea guilty be,

Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?

Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou

Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be;

Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,

Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.
And if, dear reader, you still not feling even slightly ITCHY, then maybe you should read my tale of The Ambitious Flea.


Anonymous said...

Poor Sharon! I know what it's like! I hired a flat several years ago to discover that the former tenants (amongst whom were some cats!) had left some of their comrades behind...
They seemed to prefer my legs, but one day in the office a girl came up to me and approached her hand to my face... I thought "Oh my God, there's one there"... it turned out to be a stray hair!
I bought sprays and curly wurly thingies to burn, but nothing worked. In the end I had to call in Pest Control. I got some satisfaction afterwards though: sweeping up all the cadavers of the little blighters!
And do please note - it has nothing to do with lack of cleanliness!
I can still feel the itches!

Brian Sibley said...

I wanted to share with you all the fact that SHARON -- despite the problems that are currently bugging her -- took time out to e-mail me, generously offering to donate her Guest Blogger fee to THE ANTI-DEFLEAMATION LEAGUE, which, of course, I have done with great pleasure!