Two Pricks In Brighton!
Paul was still waiting to be pricked for a second time, not a situation he found himself in that often, but he knew until the pop up vaccination unit came again he was not safe.
The damned ‘Delta’ variant had truly burst it’s banks and in Brighton there was a veritable flood of infections incurring. He did not want to be paranoid, yet he also wanted to start working again as soon as possible. It had been a year and a half now since the damned virus had stopped ‘The Lola Boys’ in their tracks and they were more than ready to get back on the train – if not the heels.
They, for the moment, seemed a step too far.
Perhaps he was getting respectable in his middle age – he really hoped not. He’d always planned to grow older in a wholly outrageous manner. Surely doing what one wanted was one of the only advantages in one’s advancing years. He took a swig of his morning Bloody Mary before puffing on a joint and made a wish never to become too straight – in every way. Life was for living, not being timid and conventional. He had no plans to conform. Only perform. When he next got the chance.
But all these traffic lights made the thought of that rather unappealing.
He and Andrew had already locked down in three countries, the thought of being in a green lit country which then turned amber was anathema to him. He was certain he and his partner would end up in a place that was red lit. It had happened too often in the past. Mind you – it hadn’t always been a jam.
Sometimes they’d rather enjoyed it.
But for the moment any red light experiences would be happening nearer to home – it just wasn’t worth the risk – not yet.
It looked as if East Sussex was to be their home for at least the rest of the year. And Andrew and Paul loved Brighton. Her heady cocktail of arty sophistication and grittiness, with a dash of hippy and a twist of the dippy was right up their High Street. She was up and coming and down and out all at the same time. Very neighbourly, even if, at times, one wanted to avoid the neighbours. She had a sense of community. There was a pride Paul pervaded through the sea air which he had only encountered in a few other British cities. Liverpool and Glasgow both sprang to mind, both dangerously appealing. Fun, frightening and fabulous in equal measure. He found it to be a world away from the small village in which he and Andrew had resided in Spain. That had had it’s dubious charms too, but Paul was a city boy at heart. He hadn’t realised how much he’d missed the siren’s call.
He was thrilled to be back.
Though he knew he’d be even happier when he could get out properly. There was a lot to explore. So much to learn. A wealth of adventure to be had. He could feel his mojo coming back, which was most odd, as he wasn’t aware he had lost it. Didn’t someone once say a change was as good as a rest? And he’d been resting for far too long. Covid and The Costa had made sure of that.
He took another glug of his flavoured tomato juice and began research on where he and Andrew could go to be jabbed. It had been three weeks since their last injection and he was hoping to inject a little haste into the proceedings and not wait the eight weeks which was now being proposed. ‘The Lola Boys’ had gigs to be getting on with and they were hardly able to socially distance during their act – even if some of the audience would like them to.
Paul had it on good authority that after three weeks it would be effective for himself and Andrew to have another dose of Pfizer. So he was on the hunt for a pop-up centre which would agree to prick them in order to save their career from having a major puncture. He was hoping for a green light at the LGBTQ etc centre in Kemptown. He was sure he and Andrew came under one of those letters.
They had to be good for something.
He’d always hated the idea of being labelled, but was more than ready to be a hypocrite when it came down to things medical. He hyperventilated at the thought of Andrew being on ventilation and was therefore happy to try anything to avoid the possibility.
Plus they were knocking on just a touch now, so were surely a priority.
They had both been lucky enough to escape a certain virus years before…. although some of their friends had not. In he and Andrew’s late teens, when everything is blossoming, AIDS was the evil which plucked the young plucky fruit from the tree of life. Luckily Paul had done no plucking himself at that time, but he knew he was more than fortunate to have escaped HIV’s insidious clutches. Yet as the fairly jobsworth nurse stood in front of him and his partner at ‘The Rainbow Centre’, explaining why they were both unable to have their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, talking on and on about T-cells and blood counts, he was right back there.
The scary advert on telly with the falling tombstone. The ghoul-like faces of the poor bastards who’d contracted the thing. The hoo-hah of Princess Diana shaking hands with a patient minus gloves. He sat in the family front room night after night terrified he would never be able to tell his parents he was gay. He didn’t want to terrify them. It had been a difficult time.
And now he felt almost the same anxiety. What were he and Andrew to do without being fully protected?
Jeni, the rotund nurse, with too much information and not enough consonants, suggested they wore visors during their act. That neither of them go near or touch any of the audience and mask up between songs. When they finished a set, she advised that they quickly replace their masks and rush to the khasi to scrub their mitts. She also recommended that ‘The Lola Boys’ made sure all of their punters took a Lateral Flow Test before coming along.
Paul thought laterally that it might just be easier if he and Andrew had their second vaccine instead.
Jeni disagreed! It would provide them with no further protection she said – not unless they had an eight week gap.
Paul asked why the rest of the world were giving the jab after three weeks – Jeni shrugged.
‘Are they all doing it wrong then?’ Paul asked with genuine interest.
‘I can’t say’, said Jeni, who up to that point had been full of answers.
The boys thanked her, and walked away, they knew they were barking up the wrong syringe.
Paul knew that obviously it was not Jeni’s fault. She was only following orders. But it was her Generals he was becoming less patient with. The Covid waters were getting muddier by the day. And he and Andrew were having to go over the top soon – in more ways than one!
That evening Paul stared in disbelief at the news that the British Health Secretary had contracted the dreaded Corona virus after having had two vaccinations.
Fuck it he thought. What can we do? We may as well go down singing.
He decided to refuse to worry about it and wait his turn. He hoped luck would be on he and Andrew’s side once again. And he was sick of talking about the bloody virus. It seemed everyone one met was an expert. He’d never met so many epidemiologists – and he’d only learnt the word last year.
The boys walked down to the prom. It was the hottest day of the year and Brighton was buzzing.
The old carousel, which Paul and Andrew had ridden years ago on their wedding day, was blasting out show tunes.
A man was fiddling on a tight rope – using a violin of course – it was a matinee!
The gargantuan seagulls hovered menacingly above looking for an opportunity to swoop down and nick some unsuspecting tourists fish and chips.
And the beach was pebbled with a plethora of peoplekind! Girls in bikinis – actually – not just girls! Young men dressed as ‘Ali G’ or ’Scary Spice’. And frightening flocks of not so youthful hens, replete with ‘L’ plates, staggering by in bridal veils and pleather mini-skirts.
It was a perfect British summers day!
Brighton certainly put on a show.
As Paul watched, from a distance of course, he felt in his blood, that it was time for he and Andrew to do the same.
The carousel burst into a tinny chorus of ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business!’
Paul could not have agreed more!
It was time to go on with the show!