He got the mosque. That’s a good location, I said. Nice community vibes. “I really love the garden there,” he acknowledged, “and I enjoyed getting to see it again, but still – I was hoping to be sent to the Louisa Jordan There’s something quintessentially pando about that.”
“You’re the only person I know who uses the word ‘pando’ to refer to the pandemic," I pointed out. “That’s fine. I’m committed to it. I’m going to keep saying it.”
The sight of the blue letter wasn’t as climactic as I had expected. An early estimation of June for the over-30s tranche had always felt far off, somewhere distant in the fog of blurred-together months.
By the time the thing actually arrived in the post, the scrap of navy peeking through a fan of envelopes like the sky through clouds, I had already phoned the hotline to find out when my appointment with the needle was scheduled for, in a panic in case I somehow missed it.
Some of my friends received a text well in advance, and some didn’t; one phoned to discover their jag was the very next day. Stats on missed appointments seem appalling, but the paper roll-out was inevitably going to get patchier when the register got to the most digital-forward generations, more used to emails than letters for communications, and in the case of students, especially after a very disruptive year, less likely to be reliably entrenched at only one abode.
In fact, now its announcement is redundant, I haven’t even opened my blue letter, just left it on my dressing table with the vague intention of filing it away as a historical document I’ll someday want to look back on.
But I wilfully haven’t factored digitisation into this, sticking my fingers in my ears to avoid it, because as a lover of paper ephemera I’ve always hoped the future will be a bit like the past, in that my peers will have albums of photographs and fragments clipped from newspapers as a record of the history they have lived through.
In the model of our grandparents, these personal archives might be squirrelled away to be one day stumbled upon in the attic or at the back of a dusty cupboard. This too requires some suspension of disbelief: peers who have clawed their way onto the property ladder post-financial crash rarely can afford properties expansive enough to have attics.
The wider daydream includes the children of my friends, who in about ten years’ time, at the end of a casual dinner, will pipe up with, "what was Covid like mummy?” giving us adults a chance to reminisce.
I’m not sure how any of us will adequately describe what the Trump era was like if a query on that line should emerge from the youngsters: providing the return to politics with a more civil facade sticks, whatever ends up in the textbooks about the perma-tanned president will appear cartoonishly evil.
But of course, the deeper fantasy here is being years beyond it all, safe and looking back on what we all went through.