Thanks everyone for your wellwishes. Feeling better now!
It is a little known fact that moths are not the only creatures to pose a hazard to our special clothes in storage.
The silverfish has to moult three times before it develops those striking little silver scales. It grows to be up to 25mm long and it can live to munch matter for eight years.
What is their dream breakfast?
Starch. And to you, that means glue, book bindings, plaster, paints, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, dandruff and clothing.
There is a way to ensure these small land-dwelling fish never get to anything, though.
Mothballs. Small balls filled with pesticide and deodorant which will keep your wedding dress as pristine as the day you wore it, and that graduation hat fissure-free.
Mothballs preserve the very essence of time: those artefacts which are so significant that they must be preserved as pristine as they day they were worn. Mothballs, for the flagship garments of our lives, pause time.
Of course, should the owner choose to wear the garment, day in, day out, to preserve the moment: mothballs would be utterly redundant.
How bizarre an experience for a little one to see such a person, one who has worn the clothes of a landmark day for decades: and how typical of Charles Dickens to dream up the situation in the first place.
I only read Great Expectations once, as a school text, but the moment Pip first saw Miss Havisham has stayed with me, mothballed for posterity in my mind.
The very idea of a woman who, jilted on her wedding day, should simply choose to mothball the moment, to bury it in an old twilight house, never to be changed or altered: it beggars belief. But Dickens can write it as if it really happened.
In Great Expectations, Pip encounters a room in disarray, with half-packed trunks. The bride wears only one shoe: the other is sitting on the table near her hand. Such details of immediacy! as if the bride is about to finish, get up and sit in a carriage on the way to church.
But there is something terribly wrong.
“Everything within my view which ought to have been white,” relates Pip, “…had lost its lustre and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes.”
He compares her to a ghastly waxwork; to a corpse exhumed from the ground. This is the most grotesque form of preservation: a mind which has attempted to mothball reality.
Unlike Pip, we are permitted the luxury of backing out, horrified, from the room, and high tailing it down to the London Underground.
Because down there, mothballing times past, there are ghost stations, silent and dust-covered, preserved caverns waiting for rediscovery.
For at its zenith, the London Underground had more than 20 stations more than they have today.
And what do you do with a station which falls out of use? Fill it back in?
No, the usual course of action is to leave it: use it as a storage space, perhaps. The posters of long ago remain on the walls, the trappings of a station from the thirties or earlier are scattered around for all to see.
And the trains of the Underground still rattle past.
The Ministry of Defence owns quite a number of these places. Underground caverns in London can be useful, and have been used in times of national crises.
The old station in Brompton Road was a command centre for Winston Churchill during the war. Rudolf Hess was brought there was de-briefing when he was captured. There’s a strategic air map of South London pasted there: and back up to the platform and on the wall is a white screen where films used to be shown for the occupants.
Now, it is hoped the station – and many of its sister caverns – will be re-opened to the public, after entrepreneur Ajit Chambers began talks with the Ministry of Defence and Transport for London to mount a brand new tourist attraction.
If the plans are successful, then for a fee you will be able to dine in a roof garden restaurant, visit the main station tourist attraction, or do a little light inner city abseiling on climbing walls in the deep shafts.
When one sees something after it has been mothballed for so long, like Miss Havisham: it can cause a sharp intake of breath.
And I have a feeling this old station, when it finally opens its doors, will be no exception.
Take a look at the latest BBC London Report here