I planned to call this post ‘Virus’ and then talk about an illness my father had as a young boy. Having googled it, I’ve just discovered his illness was not caused by a virus but an infection. So, quick reshuffle. Let’s say he was Victim of a nasty disease, which was not a Virus! Satisfied that my obligations to the letter V are taken care of (phew!) I can move on with the story.
In 1933 my Dad had rheumatic fever. He was 13 at the time. He was very ill for the best part of a year, and his mother feared that he wouldn’t pull through. She had ten children. If you saw our house, you’d wonder where ten children, two parents, and a granny actually fitted!
Dad was so sick, his bed was moved downstairs to the parlour. One day an elderly neighbour called to the house. Dad overheard her talking to his mother. They were talking about him. Essentially, what the old lady was recommending was that dad should be taken outdoors and beaten with a stick. His mother should then call upon the fairies to take this sick child and bring the real Joe back.
Thankfully his mother had far too much sense to heed such nonsense. I don’t know anything about the old lady. Maybe she was a bit mad. The scary thing is that her advice derived from a superstitious belief about ‘changelings.’ I mentioned in my post yesterday that the Irish fairies were a pretty dark bunch. A commonly held belief in earlier times was that the fairies sometimes took children and replaced them with one of their own. The replacement would be odd or sickly or just not right. The implications for any child suffering from a developmental disorder were terrifying. Apparently the last known case of the murder of a suspected changeling occurred in 1884. changeling. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridget_Cleary