This afternoon, I had my first vaccine jab. Twelve weeks to go before vaccine part two. Which means it will be May. Imagine that. Imagine wisteria. I’ve forgotten what May looks and feels like. This has seemed like the longest winter, bookended only by a mizzling spring. It is raining even now, as I type.
Ever since Brigadier Phil Prosser took charge with military precision and strategy, millions of UK citizens are being vaccinated in a steady stream. I don’t think the scientists envisaged a twelve week gap between doses, but the covid narrative is a long one. This evening I have felt a bit grotty, with a headache and a slight flu like response. My arm feels a little heavy. But my mind was occupied with what my mother would describe as the last thing I ought to be watching: Russell T Davies’ five episode drama ‘It’s A Sin’ - his first determined effort to remember the young boys who faded fast and terrified from the HIV/AIDS pandemic of the eighties.
Watching a period drama, one ought to feel at least as though the subject is familiar and known to us after the passing of decades, but AIDS is still far removed from ordinary conversation. Lupus and HIV patients share many clinical similarities with weakened immune systems, but inhabit opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of public scrutiny. The lupus patient is left alone, to her own devices and need not fear the cost of living as much. What we possess in abundance is the empathy of knowing what it is to fear one’s own body, obstinately dancing to a dissonant tune. Why does visibility take so long? Thank goodness for the writers and dancers and musicians who make art, make beauty, even when it hurts.
|John Lam, Vietnamese-American ballet dancer|