And especially at this time of year, when I turn into a sneezy, wheezy puddle of mush – something I am truly, genuinely grateful for: antihistamines.

When I was at primary school, I rarely got ill. Everyone I knew had hay fever, asthma, eczema, ear infections, all the usual stuff.

I did get chicken pox and, in so doing, ruined my mother’s opportunity to go to the tall ships’ race because my dad wouldn’t let her have me itch myself unconscious in the back of the car. I don’t mean to make my mother sound unkind. She’d just really been looking forward to the tall ships’ race.

Anyway, after we moved to Devon, I got my first big waft of the countryside and it turned out – sunshine and pollen, without the joyous filter of suburbia, plays havoc with my nose, eyes, throat… Face generally. My face does not care for flowers.


So, my face fell apart for a couple of years at school because I refused to believe it was hay fever.

I am the daughter of a Bart’s nurse.

This makes me basically a doctor.

As such, thirteen years old and a bit shirty, I was sure I just got a series of summer colds, which ran and ran, from April to September. I think I was seventeen when a friend of a friend, who was sick of the sight of me leaking, bought me a packet of antihistamines. I took one, somewhat uncertainly, but still – within a few minutes – I could breathe again.

These days, I don’t wait for the beech tree next door to make me cry. I start the course of antihistamines as soon as the snow thaws. Lordy, I love those little pills.