Hancock’s Half Hour 

I had my Covid jab on Wednesday. 

I haven’t reached the age dictated by Big Brother – but clearly there were enough blots on my medical copybook to bump me up the list. 

This one broke a few fingers playing cricket. That’ll do. Just as long as he doesn’t expect a badge or a lollipop when it’s done.’

Or maybe they took pity on my wife… 

Stalwart of the NHS. If he gets it we’ll lose her for a few weeks.’

Fair enough. Just as long as he doesn’t expect…’ 

Drive 40 miles or wait for the local centre to open? 

Carpe Diem. Seize the jab. I booked online. 

8:30 in the morning, obviously. No point wasting a day. 

I arrived at the vaccine centre. 8am. Our family has a long and proud tradition of getting there far too early. 

I’m 10th car in the queue, I texted to my wife. Man in orange suit has appeared. A train has gone past. 

Astonishingly she ignored me. Not even remotely interested in this local colour. 

I obediently followed a red mini to the socially distanced car park. Put my mask on. Waited for my glasses to steam up. I must have been told about 20 foolproof methods. “Glasses steamed up, mate? You need to tie a knot in ’em. The fastenings on your mask, not your glasses. And then smear ’em with Fairy Liquid.”

Fortunately the woman in front was wearing a red coat. Glowing through the fog…

And I’m done. I’m back in the car with a little blue card, a recipient of Astra-Zeneca batch AB0012. And with 8:52 written on the card. “Sit in your car until then, mate.” 

No, nobody else waits 15 minutes either…

I’m back home for ten. Feeling a bit tired, but otherwise fine. 

“You’ll feel awful tomorrow,” my wife – an AZ veteran – said encouragingly. “Like you’re getting a really bad ’flu. And then it’ll go. Just like that.” 

Pah. Us men are made of sterner stuff. By four o’clock I was right as ninepence. Fatigue? Fought it off. Shivering? Going hot and cold? Clearly those wee rascals knew better than to knock on my door…

It happened at 8:55. We were watching The Repair Shop. A restored, rejuvenated Fender guitar was being handed to a tearful owner. 

“If only we had something that’s battered, worn out and past its best,” I said. 

My wife opened her mouth. But whatever sarcastic barb it was, I didn’t hear it. 

I was shivering. Exactly like you start shivering when you’re getting ’flu. 

But this was different. The shivering was violent. Like nothing I’d ever felt before. Getting rapidly worse. “I’m going to bed,” I muttered. 

I was shaking so much I couldn’t put my passcode into my phone. My hands were jumping. I managed to grab two bath towels. My winter coat. Flung them all on the bed and climbed in. 

‘Google it,’ I thought. But I still couldn’t hit my passcode. Couldn’t get anywhere near it. 

Smiling Matt Hancock’s vaccine? I had a medieval sweating sickness. Maybe Martians had landed. One of them had winged me with his death ray. 

The shakes lasted for 30 minutes. And then I slept. Woke up, drank water, woke up, stumbled to the toilet. 

Spent every alternate hour the next day in bed. Couldn’t do anything. Out to lunch. Completely. 

And then it went. Like someone flicking a switch. 6:30 I went to bed for the night. 6:40 I got up again. 

So it looks like my wife was right.

Blimey, that’s odd: when I typed that last sentence auto-correct added ‘again.’ 

Looks like Word is out to lunch as well…

THE SCARS DON’T SHOW 

Michael Brady is willing to risk it all

His career, the woman he loves, even his life

For the man who nearly killed him…

The Scars Don’t Show’ is the first Michael Brady Short Read. Books you can read in an evening. It will be published in March: you can pre-order it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08WPM8WXS