When I started writing these moaning missives many years ago, I made the early error of over-personalising them. It swiftly became as tiresome to me writing about the woes of my own life as it did for any poor bastard whose eyes alighted on them.
What do we want? Shit films and litter! When do we want it? About once every three weeks on average! So instead I fed the public’s insatiable desire for nonsense about nothing much and what a roaring success I’ve made of it. But something’s come up that I have to address, something that involves me pretty directly. And it involves you, because you’re all bloody well at it.
Please, for the love of the sweet suffering saints, stop asking me if I’ve had any news about the vaccine.
I can’t deny finding myself in one of the ‘first phase priority groups’ gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my chest. At least I hope that’s what it is. To be lauded among my countrymen, to be treated with the love and respect usually reserved for coffin dodgers shunted into geriatric palliation barns and health workers screamed at for lying about corpses in corridors – it really does make me feel loved.
By now, everyone who knows me knows that I’m in that merry band. So they ask me: “Any news on your vaccine yet mate?” And there are two unintended consequences.
Firstly, thanks for emphasising on a constant basis that what defines me now is disease. I was worried for a minute I’d go up to half a day without being reminding of what I’ll be best known for until it kills me. I am Sick Boy, and not in a positive, hookers and blow, Irvine Welsh kind of way. There’s not one three minute period of any day that ♫cancer♫, a word I reserve for special occasions, doesn’t enter my thoughts. But on the off-chance I get distracted by videos of skateboarders crushing their bollocks on railings, thanks so much for giving me that little nudge back to my carcinogenic reality.
Secondly, do you think I’m so dazzled by syringes I don’t see that the question you’re not asking is: “When are we getting the army of the doomed and decrepit out of the way so I can get mine?”
Oh I know there’s genuine concern for my wellbeing in there somewhere. But with the best will in the world, how am I meant to catch this virus? I’m the medical equivalent of a beaten spouse chained to a radiator in a particularly harrowing episode of Brookside. I really can’t leave so a vaccine’s quite redundant.
Give some thought to the consequences of the vaccine. If I get it soon, what do I do then? Rampage around the city licking lamp posts in a one-man super-spreading beano? Take it home to kill the wife who’s lived every day of this twin-track hell just the same as me? Gnash and wail through padlocked doors at weeping bar staff? Until the rest of you get vaccines and elbows can be raised once more, it’s no bloody use to me.
And that knowledge means I have my own priority list for protection. I DO NOT want a vaccine before the many categories of people who need it more than I do: NHS staff, teachers, coppers, bus drivers, delivery drivers, shop staff and any other poor bastard who’s forced to go about their normal business because those of us happily tucked in with the central heating need the world to keep on turning. If I get a vaccine before any single hospital porter who has ever had a Covid patient hack into their eyeballs, what kind of selfish bastard does that make me?
In any case, are we meant to trust the government not to actually fuck up the rollout? I can’t say Bojo the Clown’s parade of jugglers, unicyclists and small men fired from cannons has inspired much faith up to now. I fancy we might do well to slow things down a little before we find out they’ve ‘accidentally’ ordered millions of needles filled with rainwater from a mate of a mate of a bloke they met down the Carlton Club during Britpop.
Listen, this nightmare is far from over and I’m right in there with you. If you think we’ve hit the peak, there are many out there doing their best to prolong Pret’s woes. I give you Father Grant Ciccone, who was on the news last night talking about his morning commute. It had been standing room only at Canning Town at half six.
“It was just a, er, horrendous journey, and the risk of spreading the coronavirus has just gone through the roof. We do need trains with less people, we need less people to travel on the trains, and we need something to be done now. It is a major public health issue.”
Not so major that you didn’t consider postponing your own journey though, Father? Whatever you were doing involving an imaginary man in the clouds was essential enough to pack yourself into a Jubilee line cattle truck in the rush hour, eh? Maybe you’re a key worker, Father. You’re certainly special.
But I’m not special, so do me a favour and treat me like everyone else. It may just be a bonus topic of conversation for you at a time when conversation is as sparse as a Tory food parcel. But for me it’s a constant reminder of a status I never wanted. What might seem on the face of it to be a good thing is not quite as sunlit uplands as it seems.
Besides, I don’t even know if I’m sick at the moment. And I’ve made it my mission to Zoom in to at least one of your funerals. It could be you…