Vaccination day in the New Forest - tribute to the team

Perfect, perfect, perfect

Praise for the volunteers, staff and nurses at the Millbrook immunisation centre in Southampton

Introductory note: This week Hugh and Mark will speak in praise and appreciation on behalf of many more of us, of the wonderful volunteers, staff and nurses at the Millbrook immunisation centre in Southampton. 

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Mark and Hugh signoff 600x400In this country we have an expression ‘like a well-oiled machine’ which pretty much summed up this operation. Take the advice of our Queen which is that it would be selfish to not take this protection; the death rate for seniors like me is tumbling. Not that the youngsters should be smug, this invisible killer has claimed many who thought they were immune. Please take the opportunity to protect yourselves and in turn, others.

The vaccination day finally arrives

The time had come when I was to be injected with microchips, or was it bleach? These conspiracy theorists are productive folk and there’s not a day goes by without a new scare story. Yep, they’re certainly inventive; and bonkers. This morning, some eighteen hours after the jab I looked in the mirror only to find that I still only have one head. Such a disappointment, I was so looking forward to a genuine split personality and (as I suspect Piers Morgan does) having arguments with myself. I wafted my arm over my phone and found no interruption to the signal, perhaps the electronic circuitry now flowing through my veins was faulty? There was no sign of any spooks outside the house monitoring my movements. All in all, things have been oddly normal.

The question I have for you is what do these loonies do all day; surely nobody would ever employ them? Please don’t tell me they’re allowed to breed, “Dad, how long have you been bonkers?” Can’t we simply round them all up and send them somewhere, South Georgia perhaps; or should we should just keep them for their comedy value? I must say that when I hear that Corbyn nutter barking away from atop his soapbox I do find myself smiling.

I will make it to the church on time

Our two regular readers will know that I rely on an ancient camper van to get me around. Recently she has started to make my life an utter misery with an intermittent starting fault. The problem with this type of headache is that it needs to be broken in order for someone to repair it. If she is in a good mood there’s no fault to find. Grrrr! I had already decided that if she let me down, I would grab a cab and spend a hundred quid in order to make the date. I was determined not to be one of those with an excuse, no way. Fortunately, she started. Once again, I put the explosives back in the cupboard. Slowly we rattled and rolled across the forest then eventually we drew near. I was a little bit worried about the exact location but I needn’t have been, as there were lovely big signs that not even this old fool could miss.

Perfect, perfect, perfect

You couldn’t wish for a better organised event. I was guided to an outdoor desk where details were taken. Then onwards to the car park where we were given a double space (it’s the Guinness your honour) and prepared to wait for some time. It was chilly, the sort of damp cold that really gets into your bones. I noticed that the staff were continually moving in order to keep the blood flowing. Friends went when it was raining but were still greeted in the same cheerful manner. My appointment was at 1830, I arrived at 1400. After explaining to a masked volunteer why I was so early he suggested I go on in as they weren’t too busy. So, I donned my mask, found the reservation number on my phone and wandered in. There were volunteers at every junction, all cheerful, all positive. This, dear reader, was a magic carpet of care, the staff were unfailingly courteous and helpful. I really can’t emphasise this enough.

Questions at each stage were concise and after clearing the second desk I found myself at the final stage. Ugh. Surely nobody enjoys injections, I mean, I don’t go all floppy and sweaty but all the same it’s invasive. Off came the sweater, the nurses were good enough not to guffaw at my hideously swollen waistline. Then with my right hand I pulled up the T shirt sleeve to allow full access to the left arm. The deed was done and then the fun really started. Lying in wait to my right was a nurse; now it was her turn.

The best medicine

She had in her fingers two things. One was a date card for the second dose and the other was a tiny sticker. This wickedly funny nurse then inflicted a masterclass of humour on this old fool. As if she was addressing a small child, she placed her hands on her knees, stooped and stared at me. Take away the mask and she could have been a primary school teacher.

“Now we can’t let you go without a sticker, can we? You’ve come all this way and you’ve been very brave so you have to have your sticker.” She had a cheeky smirk on her face (I could see her eyes crinkling) because she knew exactly what she was doing.

I was finished. I laughed until I thought I was going to cry. Once she had me on the ropes, she moved in for the knock-out blow; by now the other staff had the giggles.

“Here you are, now make sure you take good care of it, it’s special, just like you.” I had no retort, I was done. As I write this account, I am still smiling to myself.

“See you for the second one!” she said as I wobbled out of the door.

There are those I suppose who might have remarked that such silliness had no place in an establishment dedicated to medical excellence. Such people should be taken to a quiet room and locked there. The rest of us don’t need to be touched by such misery. This nurse was comedy gold. If she wasn’t so good at her highly qualified job, she could match any of the funny people (some distinctly not so) on the television. In my view the government ought to think carefully how it rewards these front-line workers. Yes, borrowing is at an all time high. Yes, financial caution is necessary. But these people should be cherished.

Well done and top marks to the volunteers and staff. You made me, and I suspect many others, proud to be English.

cartoon with older man, young girl and teddy bear


"And by the way, the crafty girl likes Green & Black Sea Salt milk chocolate. The teddy bear told me that." Says Hugh!

More tales and cartoons for Lymington and the New Forest from Mark and Hugh

If you'd like to read previous articles on diverse subjects written by Mark and illustrated by Hugh's cartoons, just click here!


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