Today I receive the first instalment of the Covid vaccination. I get the AstraZeneca one. The arms of the NHS have grown long indeed if they can hurl vaccinations all the way from Mordor...
Thanks to all the stories about side-effects, I go in thinking of nothing but side-effects, in much the same way that I think about nothing but plane crashes when I'm boarding a plane, or think about nothing except being zapped on the head by a lightning bolt when I'm outside in a storm, or when I'm on my balcony twenty floors up, suddenly imagining myself leaping over the railing, something I would absolutely never do (still, who knows what wild urge might overcome you!)
Fear is a feedback loop that crowds out the possibility of other, less fearful, thoughts. It brings back for your viewing pleasure, in never-ending cycles, the thing you're afraid of, like some sort of wretched neurological gif factory.
I'm reminded of the story in the Bash Street Kids when the teacher asks one of his unruly pupils, Smiffy I think, to stand in the corner and "not think about an orange penguin". The poor student is unable to stop thinking about an orange penguin. "Take the COVID jab - there is no need to worry about side effects!" = "Stand in the corner and do not think about an orange penguin!"
Anyway, the inherent weakness in the fear-gif is that it becomes, at the end of the day, a bore. I dismiss the fears, which are patently irrational and groundless, as silly as an orange penguin, and get the jab.
Nearly 24 hours later I haven't experienced a single whimper of a symptom, to the extent that I'm even disappointed and suspicious that I haven't been given enough of the elixir.
Thinking back, I remember the tiny vial the nurse showed me. She takes care to draw my attention to the expiry date, like I am grocery shopping. I imagine it is all for me.
"It contains eight doses," she placidly informs me. I nod, pretending I am on top of all this, and scrutinize the vial, hoping that I am not getting the dregs - again, rather like I am at the deli, hoping to get slices from a freshly-opened roll of smoked turkey, instead of from an end piece that has been lying there for weeks.
I watch her draw out a little raindrop of vaccine, so tiny it would qualify as a homeopathic remedy if it were mixed with a glass of water. "0.5 millilitres," she says, showing me the syringe, before squeezing my fleshy arm and plunging it in. Off it goes, into the muscle, and thence, whence, who knows?
Still, all joking aside, raindrops are important, and I hope everyone everywhere gets theirs soon.