At the age of 25 I was working as a freelance presenter for programmes such as BBC1’s “Holiday” and “Film ‘94”.
It was on location just prior to recording an interview with Kenneth Brannagh on the set of his adaptation of Hamlet that I began to feel unwell. Keen not pull out of a long planned encounter with such a prominent star I ignored my aching head; as the day wore on I sought out the help of the onset paramedic, there to monitor sword-fighting scenes. I asked him for some paracetamol to ease the throbbing. He obliged. It didn’t help. At the end of my day’s filming the paramedic asked me how I was feeling. I said “fine-ish” He asked me to promise that if my headache continued I’d get it checked out because in his words “I’ve been watching you and you’ve been blinking a lot…it seems like you’re becoming sentive to light…I’m worried you might have meningitis.
With all the blitheness of my relative youth I thought he must surely have been talking something close to complete nonsense. At 2 am the following morning - when I was so weak I could hardly walk and I felt like my head was stuck in a vice - his concerns came back to haunt me. By now I was on location in Aberdeen for my next day’s work. I managed to get myself from my hotel room into a mini cab and along to an emergency 24 hr. surgery. The examining medic gave me two Solpadine tablets and told me to get some rest in a darkened room and my illness would “blow over within a day or two.” I asked him directly if I might have meningitis … his exact words have stayed with me to this day “Well dear, I’ve been a doctor for 18 years and I think I know meningitis when I see it…so no, you don’t have meningitis.