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A conversation with Gideon had inspired me to seize the day


n Friday morning I had my second vaccination. I timed it carefully, hoping to get a day’s work done before I got the shivers or sweats that the regulars on the local WhatsApp group have been reporting. I got away lightly with the first dose, experiencing nothing more than a dead arm that took me back to my school days when a punch in the bicep was how you knew somebody liked you.

The atmosphere at the vaccine centre was jolly. The administrators’ desk was cluttered with gifts left by happy clients, in the manner of offerings at a shrine. There were three large boxes of Lindor. Jab done, I followed the arrows to the seating area where a young volunteer shuttled between telling new arrivals they would need to wait for “at least 10 minutes” and haranguing people who had been occupying a seat for longer than four. “You’ve been here six minutes? Go go go!” She was squirting their chair with anti-bac before they could stand up.

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Stepping out into the sunshine, I found I wasn’t filled with the feeling of relief I’d felt after the first time I visited the vaccination centre. Back then, it felt like the start of the road to freedom. Now it felt like the beginning of an annual ritual that would become much less jolly once the volunteers had gone. I diverted home via Sainsbury’s and bought two choux buns to cheer myself up.