I was shaky of leg and heavy of head when I woke up today, but no, it wasn’t just a typical Sunday morning chez SWB- instead I had joined hundreds of others yesterday in the 40 plus bracket and got my AZ jab. I’m finding a perverse enjoyment in feeling fragile, because this is not self-inflicted roughness, say from exercising without warming up or drinking too much NZ Sauvignon in a friend’s back garden, while riding the high of being allowed to socialise again. There is, dare to say, a ‘sanctimonious’ aspect to this malaise, because it’s for a greater good, like donating a kidney to a sibling.
It is possible that I milked the whole experience as I lay in bed last night when I kept rolling on to my left arm and emitting pitiful little bleats. At one point, I felt a weight on my chest and dreamt I was underwater, trapped under a wind-surfing sail. (People who grew up on the Esplanade in Bangor are prone to such night terrors). It turned out just to be the Fat Cat, who had plonked himself upon me, tickling my nose with his whiskers. ‘Oh for fuck’s sake, what NOW,’ said LSB as I let out a yelp. ‘It’s a bloody zoo,’ I heard him mutter, as he lifted the cat under his arm and took him downstairs for his night-time snack, while the greyhound took the opportunity to stretch out even further along the bottom of the bed.
I had no idea how the vaccination procedure would pan out, because in true SWB style, I hadn’t read up anything upon it. When I heard there could be an hour’s wait, I assumed that you sat in your vehicle. In fact, I actually thought that a medic administered you the vaccine IN through the car window, like whenever I went to have a Covid test. I disclosed this to a friend whom I visited prior to my allotted time yesterday morning, dropping in some bottles for some of his home brew. ‘Do you not have a hat?’ he asked, as I turned up bareheaded at his door. I looked at him blankly: ‘You mean I have to get out of the car and wait in the cold?’ I said, at which the word ‘snowflake’ may have crossed his lips.
‘I wonder do they have coffee?’ I pondered.
‘Of course,’ he said, nodding vigorously. ‘And after that they come round with buttered sour dough on silver trays.’
‘There’s even champagne afterwards,’ chirped up his wife. Quite a chuckle the pair of them had at my middle-class expectations of the whole affair. He grew up in Derry City during the seventies and she hails from Soviet Czechoslovakia. I am often a source of great entertainment for them. ‘It’ll be fine,’ they said, as I took my leave. ‘You’re bound to meet someone you know as you wait, you might even have some craic.’
They weren’t wrong. I had just been directed to a yellow dot inside the foyer of the arena, when a colleague from my first ever teaching job, skipped up to the dot behind me. ‘Helen McClements!’ she cried and sure enough, it was me indeed. We chatted with tremendous animation, which I imagine those in the queue around us appreciated enormously. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear the last 15 years of my life condensed into a 30 minute wait, at a sufficiently loud volume to carry between the socially distanced dots? Tremendous craic it was altogether. After the jab, I was afforded the opportunity sit and read, undisturbed for 15 whole minutes, without a small child annoying me or a cat asking to fed. I would go as far as to say that the whole experience was most edifying.
I was back in my car exactly an hour and 10 minutes after I joined the queue. I would have been speedier still, had I not had to wander round gormlessly looking for my car, since I had abandoned it and scuttled off in hurry, failing to note down where I’d parked it. It has now been thirty-two hours since the first dose and I’m almost feeling sprightly, which is frankly a bit of a shame as I thought I might have a decent excuse to stay off work tomorrow. Damn it.
Seriously though, it was extremely organised and everyone was incredibly kind and lovely and professional. Made me feel a wee bit better about life.