Vax to Reality

Last Friday (2nd July), I received my second dose of the anti-coronavirus vaccine.

Earlier that day a friend sent me a text message asking if For Whom The Bell Tolls was a good book – one worth having. I love Hemingway and have read several of his books but have tried and failed three times to get on with this one. I don’t know why – perhaps the Spanish Civil War setting doesn’t grab me, or maybe Hemingway’s use of archaic language (there are lots of thees and thous) to illustrate the (presumably) old fashioned way that the Spaniards are speaking puts too much distance between us. Anyway, after admitting that I hadn’t read the book, I couldn’t help but take it down off the shelf again to give it another go.

My copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls with two sheets of paper containing information about the coronavirus vaccine above it

I took the book with me to the vaccination centre and started reading it after I had received my jab: I presume this is happening over Britain: everyone who receives the vaccination has to wait at the centre for fifteen minutes afterwards just in case they have a bad reaction to the vaccine.

Fortunately, I felt alright, and was able to leave when the time was up.

The worst that I felt on Friday was that my arm – the one that had been jabbed – hurt a bit. This had happened in April when I received the first dose, if not quite as much, so I just got on with my day.

That night, I slept terribly. In fact, after three am I didn’t sleep at all. When I got up in the morning on Saturday, I felt achy and at one or two points shivery, even though it wasn’t cold.

As a result of this, Saturday became a rest day: no daily physio for my dodgy leg, no exercise, no anything: just rest. As the day progressed, I started to feel better but went to bed that night still aching, somewhat.

Rather to my surprise, I woke up on Sunday morning as if I had never been ill. I felt just fine, and have continued to be so, since. Now, I guess I just have to wait two weeks (or one and a half now) for the vaccine to fully kick in.

And then? Well, it looks like the government will end as planned all the restrictions relating to the coronavirus on 19th July, so I’ll be able to go and paint the town red. Of course, we can already go to the shops, pubs, etc but the truth is it will be a long time before I fully integrate myself back into society. I also need to wait until work pays me (even in a pandemic, some things don’t change!) before I can buy any paint. I won’t, of course, that’s not my thing. What I might just do instead is buy a celebratory bottle of wine, and maybe a new book. I like the sound of that.

Speaking of books, I read Chapter One of For Whom The Bell Tolls on Friday, and Chapter Two on Saturday. Since then – nothing. Why? Not actually because I still don’t like the book but because my reading at the moment has stalled. I’m determined to kick start it again but that is a topic for another post.

Two Parts of the Whole

Writing this blog is both a compulsion and an embarrassment.

It’s a compulsion because I keep coming back to it no matter how long I spend away. Even though I have fewer readers than Shakespeare had Greek, my heart aches to return.

Why? I have a theory: on Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram, I am writing for an audience. Every photo and piece of text is written with other people in mind. Here, however, because so far people read this blog, I am writing for me; only me. That helps me to say the things I really want to say (or, at least some of them, since I am not yet brave enough to say everything).

Sehnsucht and Wine is an embarrassment because of the amount of time between each post. The last one was published on 27th November. The one before that, 11th September; then, 22nd August and 28th June.

Actually, it isn’t the blog that is embarrassing, but me. Why can I never stick to a regular schedule? There is an answer to this: I never create one. Not a proper one that I can look at and say ‘Right, this week, I turn to turn my attention to x’. I tell myself ‘I will write this here, and that, there’, but never make an effort to keep to the plan. A few days ago, I wrote up a blogging schedule for S&W, Hilaire Belloc and The Second Achilles. If I stick to it, I will write one post for each each week. Ideally, I would like to write it over the weekend but I’ll be happy if it just gets done.

I don’t want this post to be just about me having a go at myself so let’s catch up again.

Coronavirus
The U.K. continues to suffer under the pressure of COVID-19. There was good news at the start of December (the 8th to be exact, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) when the first vaccine against the virus was administered. Bad news, however, followed, as infection rates shot up and a new, more virulent, strain of the virus appeared in Kent. As a result, we entered our third lockdown of the year. It remains in place. That isn’t the end of the story, though, as Britain is now pushing ahead with her vaccination process. I think we are currently the leading European country for vaccinations and perhaps one of the world leaders as well. That’s a piece of news that should make us all happy.

Brexit
The U.K. left the European Union last year but the transition process only came to an end on 31st December. From my perspective, it has changed absolutely nothing about my life. Of course, other people will have different stories. Brexit is such an important event in the life of this nation that I feel I should be writing much, much more about it; only, I really don’t have anything else to say. I almost feel guilty about that.

Happiest Season
Watching this was one of the highlights of my December. It stars Kristen Stewart (Abby) and Mackenzie Davis (Harper) as a couple who visit the latter’s family for Christmas. It turns out, however, that Harper has not yet come out to them. The film is a romcom but a bittersweet one as Abby and Harper are forced to keep their relationship under wraps. As you might imagine, doing so almost drives them apart before love wins out at the end. Victor Gerber stars as Harper’s father. As it turns out, Harper is not the only one in the family keeping a secret – thanks to her father, everyone is. Because this is a romcom, though, he is not a villain. He is very cute, however. Dan Levy (John) steals every scene he is in. His character is over the top but he is also a Feste-like figure, speaking the truth to those who need to hear it.

David Hogarth
I attended an online conference hosted by Magdalen College about Hogarth last weekend. I will try and write more about it in another post but I am very pleased to say that the conference was a fascinating event that taught me much about this elusive figure.

During the talks, I took a screenshot of nearly every slide that came up – below is one chosen at random (it shows Hogarth as a young boy; inset is Ben Taylor, the Magdalen archivist who is cataloguing the papers). I look forward to sifting through them.

The reason for the conference is the donation of Hogarth’s papers to his old college by Caroline Barron, who is an emerita professor of History at Royal Holloway University. She is also Hogarth’s granddaughter. What a kind gift to make!