"Protect Your Child from Flu" declared the informational leaflet from the NHS.
Listen hard. Yes, that's the sound of hollow laughter.
The entire population of year 8 at my daughter's school was invited to be inoculated against the 'flu virus as part of a "pilot scheme."
There were the usual horror stories related with relish by the current year 9, who had done it last year: "They stick you with a big needle and it really hurts!" "Everyone has a really bad reaction and has to have a couple of days off sick: that's why they do it on the Thursday so you can be sick at the weekend," "They get two enormous Trolls to hold you down... oh no, sorry – that's the sorting hat from Harry Potter!"
So it was a big anti-climax when the children were escorted (at gunpoint, my daughter says, but I don't believe her) down to the hall to snuff some kind of liquid up their noses, and there was no reaction at all as far as I could tell.
Sadly, there was also no protection against the particular 'flu virus that hit the school at the end of last term, and my daughter who was particularly proud of her 100% attendance record for the past three years went down hard, spent the last two weeks of the term in bed and wandered around the house for the whole of the holidays like the ghost of Christmas Future. With her dead white face and shadowed eyes all we needed was a packet of black hair dye and a slash of carmine lipstick to hold auditions for Morticia Addams.
Next was hubby, who really doesn't do being ill and is not pleasant to be around when he is ill. Normally good-natured, charming and hospitable, he extended this year a Christmas invitation to Mr Grumpy, Mr Irritable and Mr Touchy for the season. I can tell you that they quite outstayed their welcome.
Then, two days after the start of the new term, daughter number two comes home wearing that interesting white, dirty grey and purple-bruise colour on her face (never a good look)and saying in a small voice "Mummy, I don't feel well..." She's still in bed, coughing and lethargic, as I write.
So it's been the season of misery in our house this Christmas. It's been somewhat disconcerting for me to be the only consistently cheerful one in my (normally) happy and well-balanced household.
It's almost impossible to be cheerful, to have a high Moodscope score when you're ill. In this season of coughs, colds, viruses and 'flu, cut yourself a bit of slack if the score dips. This time it might not be depression; it might just be the common cold. Achoo!
A Moodscope member.