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DIARY Covid jab with benefits

Getting inoculated is a relief — and a musical inspiration

IF YOU open today’s paper (Saturday) or scroll through online, around 9.30 this morning you can think of me at Northbourne Centre in Shoreham rolling up my sleeve for my first NHS dose of anti-Covid hope. I’m sure many of you have had yours already.

The incredible success of the vaccine rollout is proof of what people working together in the common interest can achieve when profit margins and shareholder dividends are taken out of the equation.|

When contrasted with the corporate Tory chums’ snouts-in-the-trough fiasco of test and trace and PPE provision, it is testament to the infinite superiority of compassion over cash as a motivation for efficiency in medical provision.

A few weeks ago, while wondering how long it would be before I got the text summoning me for my jab, I realised that I was in much the same position as the protagonist in the Velvet Underground’s best-known song Waiting For The Man.

OK, his need was more immediate than mine, since he was a heroin addict with withdrawal symptoms waiting for his dealer to show up and I’m a 63-year-old bloke with COPD worried about catching a horrible virus but the principle is the same. Desperate for an injection!

It then occurred to me that, since the Velvet Underground were notoriously big fans of needle-based medication as described above, I could rewrite some of their best-known songs as a kind of “musical” in support of the vaccination programme.

So I did. It’s called The Velvet Underground & Covid, after their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, and it had its debut performance online at on Thursday night. You can listen back if you so choose.

It’s fair to say that you do need to be a Velvets fan to really appreciate my efforts. But if you are, you can hear Waiting for My Jab, Heroine (for the NHS), I Heard Them Call My Name, (written when I got the text), Lady Godiva’s Vaccination, There She Goes Again (about an anti-vaxxer), Venus In Furs (vaccination as mild sado-masochism), Stale Blue Lies (originally Pale Blue Eyes, about the utter disaster the Tories made of it all until the NHS and the community took over), The Black Angel’s Death Song and, yes, All Tomorrow’s Parties.

I can’t wait for those. Bring them on.

Just in, a spirited CD from The Brewer’s Daughter, aka Rhiannon Crutchley — a singer, wonderful fiddle player to many, festival traveller and songwriter. It’s called Jara and is imbued with the spirit of the grassroots festival scene to the extent that it almost smells of wood smoke and cider.

The standout song is Flesh, which deals with the transitioning issue with compassion and understanding and it’s available from

Advance notice that my next guest on Attila the Stockbroker Introduces is the inspirational, talented, intelligent and indefatigable David Rovics from Portland in the US, long-time touring comrade, broadcaster and writer of some of the greatest political songs of our age. You can hear him next Tuesday at 8pm on

Keep safe everyone and when your name is called, get that spike in your vein. There is some ridiculous disinformation out there. I agree with the recent Star statement that vaccines are not a magic bullet — we must change the ghastly social conditions which make the poor and disadvantaged the most vulnerable to Covid —  but they are the key to a return to human contact and all the basic interactions which are at the core of our collective being.

Make no mistake: life will not be, and must not be, ever the same again. We have been reminded what real collective action can do and we must never let the Tories forget it.


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