What an amazement.
The OH saw an advert for people with lab experience to help with the national effort to defeat the virus, thinking he was going to be an occasional volunteer for something. There were forms to fill in in plenty. Telephone interviews. A several hour test in lab procedure at an nearby university which was so hush hush the Uni’s security team had no idea where it was.
When he arrived there were 13 people in their twenties and him, 70 this year. He did his usual, barged in and didn’t read all the instructions, listened to a couple of lectures and came home thinking he’d just had an interesting evening out.
But as of February he will be in paid employment in one of the two mega labs in the country.
I am alarmed and delighted. I caught Rubella off a microscope slide he was using at evening classes in the 1970s. So I really, really hope the tidy up after each shift is awfully good.
It is shift work, which is an interesting proposition for someone who usually surfaces at twelve, being surprised at how late it is. It is physical and standing, which is an interesting proposition for someone with such bad gout he can’t walk if he doesn’t take the pill at four in the afternoon. He most recently had elbow gout and had to take a medicine that was fatal if taken incorrectly. He usually starts the first can at nine in the evening, when he might be working.
He has to produce his certificates next to his face in a conference call. These are for exams passed forty years ago, or, to put it another way, three houses and a major, new roof makeover. He still hasn’t found the photographs he was looking for three weeks ago. He got up in the loft, looked around slightly, came back down and reported no certificates.
So we both got up and went bag by old suitcase through the detritus of forty odd years of stuff in lofts. He banged his head three times, got cobwebs in his hair and swore a lot, but after an hour and a half, found the box and the certificates.
Then there was half an hour online and by phone with the S&H to get the pictures working on his computer. He can’t get the pictures and the sound so he’ll phone while simultaneously waving the papers online.
After a year of never venturing out without gloves and spraying everything that comes into the house, I am nervous.
But the difference in the OH is beyond belief. I am sure that I’ve told you he is the man who sorted Legionnaires Disease in the 70s and 80s. All alone for six years he pushed it round a microscope slide until he invented a way of showing it up so it could be recognised. Then he taught labs round the world what to do. All while his parents were living off us as his mother had Alzheimer’s, which in those days, you had to explain. And all on the pay of a lab technician.
This time he’ll be testing thousands of people to find out who has and hasn’t got it, whilst having difficulty walking and on the pay grade of an assistant.
They are so keen to have him they emailed him from this country at five in the morning to ask why he hadn’t signed an electronic form yet.
And that shows that government agencies actually are working round the clock.
The difference in the OH is extraordinary. He’s not a hopeless person sitting in a chair drinking. He’s a man on a mission.
All of which goes to show ever so many things. But the most significant I believe, is the importance in life of having a purpose.
Everybody needs a reason to get up in the morning. For nearly a year mine has been to get that library out on the drive.
What is your purpose?