When I was 7, in the summer of 1976, I had post-aural lymphadenitis (this is what it said on the plastic tag around my wrist, and I memorised it, much to the annoyance of anyone who subsequently asked me why I'd been in hospital). I remember blinding pain in my ear, which started when we were at the beach, 1976 having been a long hot summer; and I ended up in "the Sick Kids", Edinburgh's children's hospital, crying with pain and fear at being separated from my mum.
Piercing little memories from that time come back to me. I remember them in much the same way as I can recall, as a three year old, not being able to read and looking uncomprehendingly at street signs (much like being in a foreign country). I had a room of my own, and it was the first time I had ever seen, much less eaten, liver, which wobbled alarmingly on the plate and which I comprehensively rejected; a neighbour brought me "Five Children and It" to read - I'm still, even now, unsure what or who "It" was, although I remember he/she/It could grant wishes which somehow had a Monkey's Paw-like tendency to backfire; I watched the diving in the Olympics on a tiny TV perched high in the corner, and really didn't comprehend that it was a sport; I cried hysterically when I was told that I had to stay in hospital for three more days; I fell in love with my nurse and insisted on giving her a mawkish plastic rose when I left, which has forever haunted me since as having been quite possibly nicked from someone's graveside tableau; and being transported, for one horrible night, to the general children's ward and lying awake, terrified, to the sound of others' breathing and moaning.
Afterwards, of course, as a manipulative little sod I turned the experience to my advantage as a badge of courage and source of stories, including an entirely made up tale of a child dying in the bed next to me and being taken away in the night. The thrilling story retold never, for some reason, included a description of a terrified 7 year old crying abjectly at being abandoned.