Pictorial blethers

By blethers


Right. Back to reality after all that brightly-coloured jollity, sunshine, food - although I confess there's a bit of champagne re-corked and awaiting my attention later. Here's a wonderfully bleak photo taken just before 8.30am. The air is raw and cold, though the rain hasn't yet arrived. (It has now. It's horrid.) The occasion? The first Flu Vaccination session held by our surgery, who go in for mass sessions in hired venues. It used to be the Red Cross Centre, which then shut. We've also been to the Burgh Hall and the Queen's Hall. All three of these venues were warm, with a spurious air of jollity. This year the word had gone out: Dunoon Primary School; two Saturdays; sessions from 8.30am till 3pm.

We realised we'd not timed things quite right when we started noticing the old people passing our house - some with laborious slowness; some briskly. Quick, we said, and hurled ourselves down the garden path. (We live handily close to the school, which our children attended when they swiftly became latch key kids.) We arrived at 8.23am, and saw this. The queue stretched all the way round the playground; you can see the right-hand half of it in the photo. The door to the hall where the vaccinations were taking place is not far off the left of the building with the steps, so the queue is twice the length of what you can see. Everyone wore masks, though some - men, usually - were hanging them off their upper lip. Coughs, some alarmingly fruity, echoed off the stonework. The cold began to bite. I was wearing a short-sleeved polo shirt (for obvious convenience) under a fleece. But why did I have bare feet in my sneakers?

More forcibly than ever, I was reminded of P.D. James's novel The Children of Men (great book, lousy film). For me, the most powerful description was of the moment when the main protagonists came upon columns of old people (well - over 60!) walking quietly into the sea to die: The Quietus. (Can't bear to spell out the thrust of the novel - the link will give a summary if you don't know it). I've always recalled it when I've attended the mass vaccinations, and this year, with everything that's going on, with the cold grey coughing air, the bleak grey stone, the orderly procession, it was more powerful than ever.

Inside, I should tell you, there was a great deal of compassionate hilarity, and my GP, at whose station I arrived for my jag, was giggling cheerfully. He proved to be a dab hand with the needle (think a darts champion's hold) and I was out again in no time. (No sitting for ten minutes to see if you were about to pass out - no luxuries like that in the time of plague.)

Since then? I've had breakfast, three phone calls, another piece of chocolate cake (now finished), and a frustrating time deleting all the old emails that were cluttering up my Google storage. I've not been for a walk. I may regret this - but I didn't really have lunch either. I feel slightly legless. But I'm not dead ...

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