Pulling out of Peterborough station, on a thinly tenanted train carriage, after having had my covid jab. I had earlier walked through the streets to the north of the station, where a food store was bannered: “Muslim international foods”. Nearby a grand mosque proclaimed – “Allah is the greatest”.
It was a spectacular moment. God was looking after us in those sleet-swept streets, while my thoughts are with my brother in Sheffield, fighting covid now. They are a few days in, and his two teenage daughters, my nieces, have also engaged with the enemy.
I fingered my phone, slippery with frozen slush. The soundtrack in my head (I didn’t need to put it on Spotify) was Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. For obvious reasons: “Just a little pinprick”; yes that jab of Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 – the brilliance of scientists returning what was ripped from us by a wrong turn somewhere in the months past (by someone or some mishap in the ecosystem as yet unknown).
What was returned? A joy in life; a belief in life; a rediscovery of courage, which is not the absence of fear. And in the end an understanding. An atonement (and in coming months and years we must all change. And not just jump back into the cars and aeroplanes as before).
And thoughts crowded in. Sort of a variation of your life flashing before you- in reverse. The dim screen of my phone on the way back evoked early days Nokia blogging out on the Gaula.
So thank you to the NHS. Thank you to the team at Central Thistlemoor in Peterborough, the volunteers and the cheer they operated under. The man in the ‘gilet jaune’ as I went into the rear entrance, who affirmed my name in a cheerful way in a moment of epiphany.
I felt – feel – amazing. Relieved like I’ve got my life back and I want everyone to feel that soon and they will. Because it’s been a nightmare and I’ve woken up. Life is much the same. And also better. A perfect double helix of conflicting reality. So nice to be alive.
I pray for my Sheffield family, the rest of my family also not that well, and for us all.