VACCI  NATION.    They stick pins into you…

We had our anti Covid jabs today, in a motorbike showroom cleared for the purpose in a back street in Crewe. Our own town wasn’t offering them, which I found disgraceful, since there are plenty of premises.

As we set off in the rain, driven by Son Number Three, I thought the bare winter trees looked as though they’d come out of a shower with their hands up. It was a long way to the centre and hard to find. Past boarded up warehouses, wet, dirty alleys, broken windows, one-way streets leading nowhere, we stumbled in the rain. And there seemed to be no road signs. Had they been stolen? Or taken down by someone with second thoughts about the wisdom of naming such abandoned dereliction?

I’d forgotten how desolate the outskirts of these Midlands towns are. Crewe reminded me of Walsall, another town that never recovered from the Recession. Lost, we drove up back alleys, parked next to a recreation ground where I counted sixty seagulls on the railings and roof, and walked up to the Centre.  A man with my husband’s name wrote out a card for him to prove he’d been vaccinated. This caused some amusement and confusion.

The whole business was over in seconds. Heading back to the car, the back-to-back houses, litter strewn yards, graffiti, and general neglect had me wondering what paradise the migrants who had moved heaven and earth to be here had hoped to find. Only the shops run by Eastern Europeans seemed to be clean, smart and presentable.

Orange bread crates were piled up outside the only sandwich shop in sight. We bought hot egg and sausage sandwiches and headed for home. Desolation Row – Dylan wasn’t wrong. But everyone from the doctor, receptionist, and sandwich maker to the car park attendant was cheerful, helpful and friendly. But they don’t deserve Crewe.

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