At about 10.30 this morning I answered the phone to the GP’s receptionist: was Mr O available, please? He was being invited to receive his first dose of CV-19 vaccine at the surgery at 3.50 this afternoon.
R’s first question: “Is that just me, or can my wife come too?”
She would check, she said. And did, but came back almost at once and said sorry, no – I wasn’t old enough. (Because, of course, I’m extremely young.) R looked stricken, because he really wanted us to get jabbed at the same time, and if just one of us was having the vaccination he’d have preferred it to be me – but as that wasn’t on offer I said “Of course – you must have it! At least then one of us moves closer to getting back to normal.” And then went upstairs and had a little cry, from disappointment and frustration.
As I wasn’t fit company I took myself off out for a walk, and searched the parish for winter thrushes. I found plenty, both fieldfares and redwings, along with numerous blackbirds and a couple of mistle thrushes, but even though hunger has now driven them right into the heart of the village they’re still not easy to approach. They tend to feed in flocks, which allows them to watch for danger in all directions, and when one bird sounds an alarm the entire group takes off and moves elsewhere – leading to me triggering a lot of squawking, and missing a lot of photos. Luckily though, this redwing was absolutely intent on the ivy berries, and ignored me as I rattled off numerous frames. Ivy berries are quite difficult for birds to pick, but they’re worth the effort: according to both Chris Packham on Winter Watch and this article in The Guardian, they’re a high-energy foodstuff, providing more calories gram for gram than chocolate.
I was back at my desk and culling today’s files, when a text pinged into my phone from our GP practice, inviting me to use their on line booking system to make a vaccination appointment. This was so unexpected that I wondered if it was a scam, but I risked clicking through on the link anyway, and after handing over nothing worse than my date of birth I was offered a list of available slots at Stratford Hospital. So, barring mishaps (or it having actually been a scam, in which case I will be Extremely Displeased) I’ll be receiving my first dose of vaccine next Tuesday. The only person more surprised than me about all this was R, who’d been told at the surgery a couple of hours earlier that they didn’t expect to be moving on to the next group of recipients for several weeks, and therefore assumed, when I strolled into the kitchen and blithely told him about my appointment, that I was making some kind of joke. Far from joking, when it properly sank in a little later that I’d just been given a timeline back to normality, I shed another few tears – but this time from a combination of relief, and a burning admiration for the amazing performance of the NHS.