My Christmas went from bad to worse. My friend who was supposed to come for lunch on Christmas Day emailed to say she was so worried about Covid that, even if I took a test, she wouldn’t sit inside. Let me remind you I live in North Yorkshire. I had already ordered food from Riverford.
Then the ex, who I was supposed to be seeing in London, texted to say he had just had the booster and wasn’t feeling well. As someone who has always been a rebel, and given he never goes anywhere, I told him I’m surprised he rolled over.
‘How has this become a go at me?’
‘It hasn’t. It’s the issue of the day. You don’t go on public transport. You don’t exercise and you smoke. I’d be more worried about getting lung cancer.’
When I started this column 22 years ago I was reticent and self-preserving. I wanted readers to like me. To show off: my first column was about buying spangled jeans in Dolce & Gabbana. I didn’t, at first, write about the fact I lied about my age. That I’d had a breast reduction. I hid my money troubles for years. I told my managing editor I was going to be made bankrupt, but not my readers; I was too ashamed.
But then I thought, well, I shouldn’t be writing a column unless I tell you the unpalatable bits, too. So I told you I only had £3 in my account. I told you I don’t think women should have IVF on the NHS: you’re not ill, you’re just unlucky. I wrote I was sexually assaulted in primary school. I wrote about animal cruelty, meaning my house was shot at. I chronicled what it was like to lose everything. I wrote that Gracie my collie destroyed my furniture, nipped a walker (who then tried to blackmail me) and killed my cat. Just before Christmas 2021, I revealed I hadn’t been sober at Christmas for two decades.
I think it’s important I tell you something else. I have not had a Covid vaccine in any shape or form. I had Covid early on and recovered after two days. If I’m going to be in a room with people, I have a PCR test. I did book a vaccine, but it was during the time I was suffering badly from vertigo. I wasn’t allowed to drive, and the vaccine centre was, crazily, 20 miles away in the middle of the moor. I was terrified of my vertigo attacks and read the vaccine could exacerbate it. I also believe that flimsy bits of dirty cloth don’t prevent transmission. As a deaf person, masks interfere with my hearing – anything near my hearing aids makes them whistle. Masks on others mean I can no longer lip read.
I wrote an email to my friend who now won’t come for Christmas lunch, saying she needs to live her life, not cower in fear. Then I deleted it. What she does is up to her.
Then my ex sent this: ‘Let’s kill all the anti-vaxxers. Win-win.’
I replied: ‘I’ve not had a vaccine and I’m not going to. I am anti-vax for me.’
We’d had a row the last time he came to see me in North Yorkshire. He was unable to complete a short dog walk due to what looked like a ‘slope’. I had told him off for continuing to smoke, meaning his arteries are constricted in his legs, making walking painful. He was so angry that I said he should stop smoking and at least be able to walk, he called me the C-word and stormed off on a long drive back to London, while tired.
How is that more responsible than me not getting jabbed? You can kill someone with your car. You can die from a stroke.
All of which makes me wonder how many couples have split up, friendships shattered and jobs lost because of your medical status. I’ve lived my life in fear of secrets being exposed. Not any more. Not any more.