Yesterday I had my spring Covid booster at Norfolk Street Pharmacy in Shelton. It seems that pharmacies have become the preferred method of delivering mass vaccination programmes. It makes sense, it must cost less, and it frees up GP’s surgeries to deal with the backlog of people seeking medical attention, some, no doubt, have put off visiting their GP because of fears of catching the latest variant of SARS-CoV-2 or to avoid putting strain on an already over-stretched service. In my opinion you get a better experience at a GP Medical Centre because they are better equipped to deal with a steady queue of patients and have the skills to deal with any emergencies or minor concerns. However, I am more than happy to put up with the discomfort of being treated in a small space when it means I can be vaccinated quickly at a time that suits me. Compulsory wearing of face masks increased my confidence in this pharmacy led initiative. Apart from a little soreness at the site of the injection, I feel fine.
February was LGBT+ History Month. An old friend contacted me to see if I could give a presentation about my experiences of living through seismic changes for LGBT+ people in Britain and of similar transformations for people living with HIV. This was for Brabners, a well established law firm in Manchester. It was a hybrid event…talking directly to a group of people in the room as well as being live-streamed to branches of the firm in Liverpool, Lancashire and Leeds. Engaging with people and performing give me a chance to really come alive and sparkle. The event was well received with plenty of pertinent questions that made it interactive and more specifically relevant to the audience.
There have been no more invitations to the House of Lords, nor to the House of Commons either; however, in February, I received invitations to a couple of events in London that I turned into a mini break. Well, that was the intention. In fact, I slept poorly in a cold, cramped hotel bedroom and was rushed off my feet as I traveled from one part of London to another in an attempt to be prompt. I was over efficient with the invitation to Queer Britain for a special Founder Members’ event: a talk by the activist Mark Segal who was present at the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. I turned up at the museum a day early. The early visit wasn’t wasted, it gave me a chance to have a close look at this tiny collection of LGBT History and to engage with the volunteers running the museum. It seems there is a larger connected archive at the Bishopsgate Institute The talk was well worth the effort of a double visit. Mark Segal is a seasoned campaigner when it comes to gay rights and social injustice.
The other event was an invitation to the National HIV Story Trust Interview Archive launch at the Curzon Cinema in Soho. It was wonderful to meet up with so many people that I hadn’t seen in person for years. The short films reminded us there was a pandemic before COVID and that it had a lifelong impact on those who managed to survive. I did my interview for the project decades ago when I was still Secretary for the National Long Term Survivors Group (now HiVitality). Since then, so much has happened in my life that warrants another interview. I’m sure there must be others, like me, that have an interesting sequel to relate.
Today, as Dominic Raab resigned from the Government, I have been attempting to get on top of a mountain of work for the OLGBT Group. After a couple of sessions reading emails and posting responses, I decided to swap activities and enjoyed myself by wading through a Handel keyboard Suite, a Mozart piano sonata and a Rondo by Chopin. After a light lunch, I switched to pedal exercises on the organ, then slow sight reading of one of Bach’s Chorale Preludes, before practicing an Easter Alleluia by Colin Mawby, a couple pieces from Thirty-Six Miniatures for Organ by Noel Rawsthorne and finishing off by working on Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba that has acquired a lot of errors though careless playing over the years. Although progress seems painfully slow…I have improved the accuracy of my playing considerably. This gives my confidence to perform more challenging compositions in public.
Next month, I have another London trip, to which I am looking forward. It’s a photo shoot for Nam Aidsmap. Fancy that…I finally get to be a poster boy in my 80s!
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