Jab day. And – exhilaratingly – I’m transported twenty-five years back. Out of the inertial murk of retirement to a place where news is happening. Journalistic instincts switch on: observation, suspicion, collection of facts, conclusions that are mine and no one else’s.
The invitation comes from our own GPs; their Belmont Medical Centre will not be big enough, hence Saxon Hall, just down the road. And yet BMC accommodated the earlier flu jab; we queued in light rain in the car park and were only slightly moist by the time it was over.
Saxon Hall tells a different story. Real social distancing requires X/Y co-ordinates: left/right and backwards/forwards. You need area and lots of it, very little of which will be occupied. For space itself is protection.
And lots of people, about 35 by my estimate. Some ensuring car-park priorities for the lame and the halt. Some asking questions. Guiding prickees from the jab-seat to the waiting-seat. Recording statistics. Equalising small queues.
Signs in multiples, black-yellow warning tape.
Details cause you to wonder. After the jab you must wait on the premises for twenty minutes to check possible reactions. You carry a large egg timer, gaily purple with purple sand, to measure your wait. Several million, ordered, designed and manufactured.
Another masked operative puts your emptied timer into a bag marked Dirty Egg Timers. Her only job, but vital.
You knew that vaccine would be budgeted for. But when did someone say: “We’ll need egg timers.”
You leave via an exit through which you did not enter. And reflect. Our leaders have not covered themselves with glory during the pandemic. But certain others – once given the starting gun – have created a vaccination centre in next to no time. They’ve helped mitigate the shame I’ve recently felt at being British.