23 Sep Radio Vaccine
This feels like date night. Or, as the case may be, date late afternoon—lockdown edition. With an eagerness that belies the nature of our trip, we leave the house and actually get in the car to head out for an exciting, rare, Lockdown Level 4 outing: to… get pricked by a large needle. At the Khandallah Church Hall. Sitting on plastic chairs with a lot of strangers.
But heck, it’s out of the house, and no kids! Bring it on.
Khandallah town centre seems to be positively humming with people also out of the house, going in various purposeful directions; heads down, tails up. We head straight to the queue outside the Church. I look around at the other mask-wearers, many resplendent with masks of floral-print classiness, or quirky-print specialness, or surgical sensibleness. Our bought-online-in-a-hurry masks are a sinister, plain, dark navy, which makes us look like bank robbers. We make extra efforts to smile with our eyes and not make any sudden moves.
I am impressed at every step with the efficiency. The woman at the door must have had the same conversation hundreds of times before, yet she asks us the same questions with notable friendliness and patience. I am reassured. Grateful, even. The line moves forward with unhurried ease.
I must certainly have had the jab because I sit down and they apparently do the needle thing, but I feel nothing, and we soon find ourselves walking into the church hall to sit like bashful chess pieces amongst the lines of others, all quietly sitting on their chairs. Bemasked, it’s awkward to shout across two metres. So no one does. We sit and we wait, sure we will not have an adverse reaction but watching for one anyway. Relaxed and vigilant, all at the same time.
The radio, however, is not quiet. Inexorably, it pours out its mixture of heartfelt feelings and inanity, singing to us all about our lives and loves. We listen because we have to, because we are trapped for 20 minutes on our plastic seats (assuming no adverse reactions), because we are masked and silent and separate.
So try to put yourself in our slippers. Here we are at the mercy of the radio and the woman at the front who tells us when we may leave. What songs do you think might have been chosen to serenade us during these trying COVID-19 times? What music choices might the radio producer have made during these weeks of stress and provocation to soothe and encourage us?
Song one is a revelation of either terror or reassurance: “The First Cut is the Deepest.” A piece of melancholic, melodious regret comes next, chosen it seems to inoculate us against unhelpful, nostalgic rumination: “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Song three is when things really start to hit new heights. In their wisdom, the DJs thought that a Westlife special, “My Love,” would ground us for our return home into lockdown:
An empty street, an empty house,
A hole inside my heart.
I’m all alone, the rooms are getting smaller
I wonder how, I wonder why, I wonder where they are?
The days we had, the songs we sang together
And the final song to see us out the door? A lyric to get us all pumped for hanging out together in the same space with those people who we love and who occasionally drive us nuts: “She’s a Maniac.”
Free of any adverse reactions and on our way home, we fall into musing on the soundtrack that has just provided us with a can of earworms. Our Radio Vaccine DJ was on a roll. We reflect that there are more, just as fitting songs they could have gone for. One could, for example, ensure that there was no mistaking the vaccine centre by piping “The Cure” by Lady Gaga around the building. Once we’re through the formalities and with our growing confidence in the efficient system, we might be open to a quiet yet insistent version of “Hit Me with your Best Shot”; it may help people to put their best foot forward (or arm, as the case may be). Depending on temperament, those waiting in line might benefit from either “Do It” (Chloe x Halle) or “I’m So Excited” (The Pointer Sisters) or even “Take Me Home, Country Roads”; perhaps these could be alternated to ensure even coverage.
As you approach the chair, “The Final Countdown” followed by a stirring rendition of “I Will Survive” would be just the ticket. And afterwards, to raise morale in the otherwise silent church hall? It’s obvious. A wee dose of “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone.
Could be just what the doctor ordered.
(Image: Photo by Edgar Moran, CC Zero)