Queuing up to thank the NHS
Queuing up to thank the NHS is a privilege - Janet Christie's Mum's the Word
With the New Year’s arrival 2021 recedes into the distance, much like the queue for a Covid booster in which I stood outside the drop-in centre for six hours pre-Christmas.
Stretching along the cobbled street then around the corner and along the main road, there were hundreds of us lining up from first thing for the shot in the arm that could save countless lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the wait. I count myself lucky to be getting jags at all, lucky to live in a country where we still have a national health service, despite a decade of underfunding and cuts, unlike most of the rest of the world.
Sleepy and reserved first thing, as the day wore on the queue thawed as we watched the wintry sun’s slow march across the sky and people started to chat. I talked knitting with the young woman in front clicking away at a beanie, discussed sheepdogs with another when she was visited by a friend and their collie, who salivated at the prospect of helping to herd stragglers into the orderly queue, or was it the chips that arrived with lunchtime? I was offered coffee and a sandwich and the guarding of my place if I needed to nip into the leisure centre toilets, but no, I was jigging up and down because I couldn’t feel my feet.
All day a health worker patrolled the queue, advising how long the wait would be and ushering in those who’d made it to the front. Finally I was welcomed into the warmth and escorted to a room where as my feet thawed, smiley John the medic explained and administered the booster, along with a flu jag, then thanked me for coming in.
No, thank you, John, and all of those working in the NHS. Because much as politicians like to misappropriate the phrase ‘Dunkirk spirit’ (my dad was at Dunkirk with the Black Watch though like most of his generation didn’t go on about it because they were too busy getting on with rebuilding the country, starting with setting up the NHS), the credit for rolling out the vaccine lies with the NHS staff and volunteers on the ground, literally at the sharp end, rather than Westminster politicians and their acolytes ‘not partying’ in comedy braces, antlers and as Youngest Child observes, a “bad buffet”.