I got the call, booked my slot, rode the bus to the next-door village of Poringland and joined the orderly queue at the COVID-19 vaccination hub at the Community Centre. Friendly, fast and efficient, I was in, jabbed and out within five minutes – no messin’. The NHS really know how to run this kind of thing. Some people who get the Oxford AstraZeneca shot report flu-like symptoms for a while. Not me, I just got a slightly sore arm and a bit of swelling. Roll on jab number two – and freedom. A shot in the arm is just what we all need right now.
So far, February has delivered freezing Russian snow and an icy blast from the past on Channel Four. Storm Darcy brought two-foot snowdrifts, abandoned cars and our resident pheasant pecking about for frozen morsels. But it was Russell T Davies’ AIDS-era drama, ‘It’s a Sin’, that really chilled us to the bone. Brilliant as it is, the series made for tough (though compulsive) viewing especially for those, like me, who survived the worst of times, ducking the Grim Reaper’s scythe by the skin of the teeth. By episode three I was ripping open the wine box to squeeze the last drop from the plastic bag.
Many have binge-watched the series on-demand. That wasn’t for us. There’s not enough wine in the box for that. So we took it as it came, broadcast-wise. Last night’s brutal and uncompromising finale was the bitter pill that had us fighting over the Kleenex. The irony of screening the series during another health crisis was not lost on us. I hear it’s gone down a storm with the current cohort of young gay boys putting it about town, leading to a record uptake in HIV testing. Good job, Russell.
As further confirmation of my inevitable slide towards the slab, a bowel cancer screening test kit dropped on the mat – part of the national programme to regularly screen everyone over 55. It was back in 2016 that I endured the pain in the arse procedure at our local hospital. Five years on and the quacks are back for a second poke around. This time, though, it doesn’t involve a rear view camera, just a stick and a bottle.
As we all know, the NHS is under unbelievable pressure right now due to the pandemic knocking it for six. But it’s not quite ‘all out’ yet. I, for one, remain eternally grateful that my own health is in such capable, dedicated hands. Thank you!
I know it can be tough on pets and those of a nervous disposition but I do love a pyrotechnic extravaganza, especially at New Year – all that sound and fury signifying nothing but the turning of time. When London was home, I’d jump on the Tube to enjoy the spectacle from the banks of Old Father Thames along with tens of thousands of other revellers. These days I’m content to watch from the comfort of a warm sofa, glass of bubbly in hand.
For obvious reasons, we assumed the fireworks would be off this year. But the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had other ideas. Without plug or promotion, sneaky Sadiq gave us the old razzle dazzle to cheer us up. The theatres may all be dark right now but London can still put on a show.
Come the stroke of midnight we’ll warm the last of the mince pies on the top of the wood burner and pop open the fizz, not to see in the new year but to make damn sure the old one leaves. Let’s hope 2021 brings a return to normality and I can symbolically remove the mask from the knitted doll given to us by an old friend. Goodbye and good riddance to the lost year.