I got the call on Tuesday. I’m not talking literally. It came in a text message and instructed me to follow the link to online booking. I did as I was told but it didn’t like my text enlargement. It would be a best guess then.
If I had more of an eye for detail, I might not have made such a hash of it.
A ten-minute car journey could be anything from twenty minutes or an hour on, that Emperor of transport, the bus. I split the difference and allowed forty minutes.
In the best tradition of royalty, the bus kept me waiting. It kept me waiting for longer than three buses were timetabled for. There was quit a little clutch of mask clad passengers poised to jostle for the door when it finally opened.
I did what I always do. I went to sit down in the first available seat. “Not here,” said a muffled voice. On to the next seat then. “You can’t sit here,’ said another muffled voice as she banged her knuckles vigorously on the window. Where was I to sit? Third time lucky.
I’ve lost track of “the rules”. The variations that appear and disappear by way of poster and hazard tape are mysterious. The almost universal dread that travellers have of a stranger plonking themselves down next to them, may turn out to be a thing of the past, post pandemic. Getting the nerve up to repel advances for anyone hoping for a seat is now practised by even the most reticent of folk.
Busy with the anti-fog spray that is a necessity for dark glasses while wearing a mask, I managed to miss my stop and had to walk back. It was an hour since I left home. I was late.
In the vaccination centre no one seemed worried about tardy timekeeping. “What’s your name today?”
“Same as yesterday,” I said, unable to control myself and instantly regretting it.
“Can’t seem to find you. Are you sure it’s today?”
“I’m sure,” I said with all the confidence of someone who has already banked the money.
“Could you just check your tezt message for me?’
Who would know how easy it is to confuse a five with a six?
“That was yesterday,” she said. “Don’t worry. All sorted.”
“Come along,” a looming voice said, making a play to hold hands. I froze. “I’ll look after you,” she said, giving my resisting hand a good tug. I didn’t say so, but while my failure to see what was in front of could not be helped, I wondered about holding hands with anyone dressed like that. What I did say was “you lead I’ll follow.”
Once jabbed, a nice volunteer came with me to the exit. “See you in 12 weeks,” she said. None of us could see what was plainly in front of us. At least I have an excuse. I’d been Gok Wan’d and was ten years younger. All the stresses of the afternoon ebbed away.
What was in front of me next was Sainsburys. I went in to commit myself to 19 crimes, (a nice little cabernet blend). It would be deliciously accompanied by thinly sliced, lightly salted roasted veg. I picked a bag dusted with something that said it tasted of cheese but wasn’t. Then I went wild. Thinly sliced roast potatoes were on a bogof. The second bag was doused in sea salt and cracked pepper -flavouring. I paid. I saw the number 3 and headed off on the number 5 until I realised my mistake and got out to walk home.
My crimes were delicious and the veg turned out to be crisps.