Cemeteries, blossom and vaccinations
Almost a year since the very first lockdown and the cherry trees have started blooming again.
This week we had planned to go skiing with friends. An annual trip in which we book self catering accommodation and we share the cooking between us. A holiday that we start looking forward to almost from the day we get back from the previous one. When talk of the vaccine coming in at the beginning of this year we still had hopes we might be able to go, but fairly soon it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be possible. So my wife has the week off from work. We’ve spent an afternoon exploring Highgate Cemetery, and going back to our routine of walks around the neighbourhood. The weather has gone back to being cold and grey for much of the week, so it doesn’t invite you to go outside.
Somehow garden centres are seen as ‘essential shops’ - in recognition of the health benefits of gardening, so we bought bags of soil and some new plants and refreshed some of the pots of ailing plants and herbs in our yard. After a cold afternoon we could head inside and feel like we’d earned a cup of tea and slice of home baked banana cake.
I had another gig in the care home near Angel, this time with a guitar player called Nat. We’d never played together, but Nat had a repertoire of Beatles songs, Bob Marley, Irish folk and jazz so between us we had a broad range of styles that entertained all. I brought my double bass, chromatic harmonica and pad of songs. I played the Irish folk songs on my chromatic harmonica, which seemed to work very well and made me think I should explore this repertoire myself. The patients (all with neurological conditions) all seemed calmed by these numbers.
Finally, on Saturday, I had my first day working in a Vaccination Centre. I’ve been working through the recruitment process for over two months. I finished my training as a vaccinator on 14th January, but somehow it has taken nearly two months before my first shift. I wasn’t vaccinating though. I was instead registering people outside the entrance as they arrived onto a computer tablet. A large part of 5 hours spent outside in the cold wasn’t what I had in mind, but it was a treat to meat and communicate with people. I went into my performers mode, greeting people with a smile (hidden by the mask), a bit of chatter, a laugh, asking the required questions and sending them on their way to be vaccinated with a friendly comment. It was a reminder of the breadth of characters living in London – some exuding a friendly glow, others a frosty demeanour, some nervousness, some aggression... all within the space of the few moments of meeting them and registering their booking number. Most were very pleased to be there.
I cycled home, feeling very cold, but glad to have done a morning of work. In theory I should be paid for the work, but there didn’t seem to be an obvious system for registering my hours. I hope that the relevant person is told that I was there and it is registered as hours worked. I’m not optimistic, but I live in hope.
On the positive side, I’ve had two enquiries for bands this week – bookings for weddings in Autumn next year (2022)!!