My mother got her second jab this week. We aren’t entirely sure how it happened; she looks nothing like Boris Johnson’s dad.
We were on tenterhooks right up to the end as to whether the hospital might turn her away as part of the new strategy of delaying the second vaccination. I understand the case for this new approach but frankly the plan always looked a little more logical once Mum was safely through the system. Since no one got in touch to postpone her appointment, it just felt rude not to turn up.
Anyway, it is obviously tremendous news, not only because the oldest are the most at risk but also because there are a lot of errands I’m too nervous to run myself which she can now take on. We’ve helped her right through 2020 so it’s about time. And, frankly, since she hit her eighties she’s just not been pulling her weight. All those lifts I used to get as a kid have completely dried up and the babysitting has been neglected since the spawn turned 16. That’s the problem with octogenarians, it’s take, take, take.
We will go easy at first. But over the weeks, I am sure we can ramp up her errands; those old bookcases aren’t going to take themselves to the dump. At the very least she could help with the takeaways — the Deliveroo bills are really starting to rack up.
As the vaccine rollout gathers pace there is no longer any excuse for the new master race of Covid-secure citizens not to do their bit. Come on, Gran, no more Netflix for you, we’ve got shopping we need done.
Officially, of course, these vaccinated veterans remain under lockdown, not least because scientists are still researching whether they continue to spread the virus even if they are safe from its ravages themselves. We can’t let them out until we are sure they are not superspreaders who might infect our teenagers.
But we can all imagine the huge psychological boost from seeing our parents feeling safe enough to get out and about. It will be like one of those Colditz films when they announce that an escapee has made it to Switzerland. “Gather round, men. I’ve received some rather good news. Last night Grandad went over the wall and he has just sent us this text from free Tesco — ‘Greetings from the fruit and veg, can I get you any mango while I’m here?’”
As freedom is progressively returned to the nation, the vaccinated must surely be among the early beneficiaries. While the middle-aged sit and wait for liberty, pensioners can reclaim our cities. I like to think of them congregating in town centres, picnicking in groups of seven or hanging out in large crowds at the South Bank or the Bullring, filming themselves on TikTok dancing to Bill Haley.
Perhaps there will be Grey Lives Matter marches and demonstrations to protect the statue of Montgomery of Alamein. Among the most radical groups there is even talk of bridge-ins. They will take back the coffee shops, allowing staff wonderful new opportunities to explain what a chai tea latte might be and why they can’t just call the cup sizes small, medium and large.
And once they have taken back control, who knows if they will surrender it. It might be just like an episode of Friends but one in which the sexy six turn up at Central Perk only to find their couch has been taken by 80-year-olds discussing The Great British Bake Off. Nightclubs might be repurposed for tea dancing, and soccer pitches as bowling greens.
I suppose it’s too much to expect many of them to take on key-worker roles, though I’m certainly prepared to fit a stair lift if it means I can get the bathroom drain fixed more expeditiously. We locked down the country to save the aged (well, strictly speaking, to save the country and government from the consequences of an overwhelmed NHS, but the elderly were the main beneficiaries).
It is time for them to give something back. The greatest generation have one more mission. They need to give a lead, get back out into the world and save our businesses. To borrow an old advertising slogan, the future’s bright, the future’s grey.
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