It’s 5.58am, I’m hungover, and I’m on a train to the city that I used to live in for a mad dash to my old GP to try and get last minute vaccinations.
Somehow, I manage to do this every single time I leave Europe. I remembered two days before I was due to go to India (a place that you really, really don’t want to visit without the right jabs, especially during the monsoon) that I had singularly failed to book an appointment, and had to sheepishly ask my friend’s mum (a doctor, thankfully, not just some sinister-sounding needle enthusiast), to inject me with all of them at once and hope for the best.
Given that I spent the ensuing 48 hours in a delirious flu-like state, and that I did actually come down with a horrific lung infection in my final week that still gives me trouble seven years on, you’d think I would have learned the lesson that catching something nasty in foreign climes is a very real and unpleasant possibility. Unfortunately, however, the only things that I do seem to be immune to are organisation and learning from my mistakes. If I were ever abducted by aliens and subjected to a classic rat-in-a-cage problem-solving test, one of those ones in which following the same arbitrary pattern earns you food and stepping out of it gives you an electric shock, they would conclude that I was a very stupid rat.
(Incidentally, my inability to adapt to arbitrary patterns of behaviour in exchange for mysterious rewards and punishments is one of many reason I’ve never done very well in a corporate environment.)
So, with woeful predictably, the night after handing in my notice and making the world’s longest pre-departure to-do list, I woke up in a cold sweat in the early hours with the realisation that I had once again forgotten the one vital thing that you have to arrange in plenty of time: booking vaccinations.
Annoyingly, having only moved back to London a few months ago, I hadn’t yet had a chance to register with a local GP and the process of signing up, doing the initial check-up, booking a consultation and then following up with the actual appointment (or series of appointments) wasn’t really feasible in the two week timeframe that I’d left myself, meaning that my only options were selling a kidney to pay private travel clinic prices or biting the bullet and making a four-hour round trip to Cambridge, where I’m still registered at a surgery, early enough in the morning to make it back in time for work. I’ve opted for the latter, which would be a far less painful scenario if last night hadn’t involved a frantic and heavily wine-fuelled Awards Ceremony, hosted by my work, which ended at 1am.
That zapping noise, ladies and gentleman, is the sound of a very silly rat getting its fur singed.