It had started to rain as I closed the door and hurried off to get my first anti-covid shot.
Scaffolding clung to the side of number 23 where two Polish painters braving the weather called to each other in opera accents. One waved and I waved back. An Amazon van pulled up and the young Moslem lad with his first beard carried a box the size of a book across the road to the family of bibliophiles at 29.
The lady from the Philippines walked by in high-heeled boots with several dogs of different sizes for various neighbours. They were at home in the warm with a fresh cup of coffee and Zoom meetings to attend on their laptops.
The Ocado truck had parked on the corner. A Sikh in a turban unloaded some green crates on to a trolley and shunted them up the kerb. The top one was about to slip off as I was passing and I managed to push it back in place.
‘Thank you very much,’ he said with a Punjabi accent I recalled from living years ago up in the Himalayas in Dharamsala.
The bus driver wore a beanie with the Jamaican colours. He had a wise look in his eyes and I said ‘Good morning,’ as I stepped on the bus. The lady in a daffodil yellow headscarf and matching mask – the first glimpse of spring? – moved her seat so we had two metres distance between us.
Something I’ve noticed since my hair turned grey is that a lot of people out on the minimum wage coal face keeping the wheels turning have an old-fashioned courtesy I was beginning to miss.
It was a (dangerous) pleasure to be on a bus for the first time in months and I thought, yes, we’re all in this together, smiling behind our face masks, making space, making way, making do.
The nurse at the clinic had the name tag Nuria Puig. I spoke to her in Spanish and she said ‘Muy bien, que raro.’ I was, she told me, the first person to speak to her in her own language since the beginning of covid. I read El País on my phone on the bus home to keep up the practice.
That evening we watched Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Fatima Manji present the Channel 4 News – surely the best news broadcast we can get. Iris cooked Italian spaghetti aglio e olio and I drank a German beer. We settled down in the evening to watch the Regency drama ‘Bridgerton’ with the black Queen dealing with the intrigues of her multi-ethnic bishops and knights.
Are we all in this Together?
When Mrs May told us we were all in this together, what she meant was ‘you’ are all in this together. The ‘we’ she referred to remain behind a mask of privilege and education in nice houses with gardens and tutors for the kids.
According to the Guardian, 1 May 2020, people from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community are three times as likely to die from Covid-19 than the rest of us. In proportion to the population, they are also three times as likely to be working in the NHS and serving the public as delivery and bus drivers, cleaners, Starbucks baristas, construction workers, staff in chemists, scooter food delivery boys on zero-hours contracts. Half the doctors and nurses are black or brown or Chinese or European.
Mrs Thatcher got it wrong. There is such a thing as society, and the links in the chain that hold it together come in many shades and from all across the planet.
I didn’t feel anything from the jab except relief that the first one is done.
Have you had your first jab? Leave a comment in the box below (no puzzles).
Interesting observation of the multi cultural society in which we live.
Yes, like in times of war national emergencies bring every-one together, the sooner the vaccinne is rolled out the sooner we can get back to some sort of normality.
Thank heavens for multi-culturalism. Without it, the NHS and everything else would fall to pieces. By now, our culture is a jigsaw puzzle made up of small pieces from every part of the world.
I had my first jab on 7th January in Earls Court in a Health Centre. It was very well organised: In at 4pm and out by 4.30 with a card in my hand to tell me the time and date of my second vaccination. I felt changed by the experience. It was a social event. I saw my doctor moving amongst the people settling them down, greeting them. I called out to him by name. I hadnt seen him for a year. He came over and we chatted: we were humans, celebrating an amazing event. I think he patted me on the shoulder as he moved off, and I joined a place to sit, near the cubicles. I hadnt been so close to human life since March 2020. It was like the sun rising again after an age of darkness. On my way home ( on the tube to Shepherds Bush ) and walking down the Uxbridge Road, I greeted everybody!
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I work in a hospice and we’ve all had the first vaccine. Pfizer.
I love the colorful glimpse at the diversity. It’s great you received your first Jab. Not yet being 65, and with no major health issues, I’m at the back of the very back of theline here. Realistically, April or May before I can have my Jab. Right now, here in Texas, we are just beginning to emerge from possibly the worst disaster to ever engulf the entire state. Due to gross negligence and incompetence of the power grid by our entrenched conservative leaders, at the very height of the worst winter storm in recorded history, the power grid failed. Deep subfreezing temperatures and no power and no water for millions and millions have led to catastrophic deaths, suffering and destruction of property. We are fortunate becasue we prepared and have generator. But we aren’t fully out of the woods yet.
What wonderful reflections on humanity on a day that all of us will remember in our own way – the day of the first jab.
Here are my reflections: https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/239110449/write/997557019