Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quietus made with a bare bodkin?

In P.D. James' excellent novel The Children of Men, there is a scene where the protagonists come upon a Quietus - the moment when a group of old people for whom there are no longer enough carers are gathered to process quietly into the sea. Bingo - another lot of old folk gone.

I was irresistibly reminded of that this morning when I attended the local Red Cross centre to get my annual flu jab. My lovely GP practice had taken over the centre to process its old and vulnerable with maximum efficiency, and to that end we were handed a small ticket - a raffle ticket, come to think of it - with a number on it and told to sit and wait in a room packed to the gunwales with ... old people. It reminded me of buying cheese at the deli counter in the supermarket. "Don't worry, they're moving pretty quickly," we were told.

And they were. Every minute or so a doctor or a practice nurse - all casually dressed, as in a dress-down Friday only it's Sunday sort of fashion - would appear at a door and shout above the hubbub of what sounded like a particularly jolly party "number 120 please" or whatever, and another old person (sorry to keep saying this, but they were - none of the lot we saw appeared to be of the young vulnerable variety, apart from an obviously pregnant girl) would hurry off, arms bared, jackets, jerseys and cardis flapping in their wake. Mr B and I studied the forms we had signed. The surgery logo (right) suddenly seemed sinister: At the bottom of the road there is the promenade. Seagulls wheel overhead. We have listened to your heart. It is time to go ...

Suddenly it's me. 127. I go into a room where there are several tables - old school desks? - and sit beside one. The jab, done while the nurse and I share my growing mirth at the situation, is virtually painless and over in seconds. She says nothing about having a wee seat for a bit - this is something several people, including Mr B, are told - and I exit, still giggling.

Spared for another year, I guess ...

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful, hilarious , picture you paint!