Well, almost gone. But although it had its tough moments, it wasn’t all bad. So I would like to thank 2020 for
- StAnza which was lovely – already changed and foreshadowing what was to come, it was full of friendships and inspiration that kept me going for all those months
- social media. I haven’t seen any of my closest friends since March, but thanks to the dreaded social media, I know I have a hard core of really wonderful people who are as close as if they were in the next room. Also a wider spectrum of people who engage, intrigue, inspire and delight me. And next year, I’m going to fix it so that they will be in the next room!
- The quiet and isolation which forced many of us to confront a few demons. Not pleasant, but useful. I discovered how much better things get if you actually take the time with them, also the difference between the strength of following your intuition and the lunacy of stubbornly demanding your own way.
- the key workers who got us through the worst times. Obviously the NHS, the shopworkers; the teachers who learned a whole new skillset overnight, so that teaching could go on; the planners and administrators who backed up the lockdowns with support schemes and guidance (the A-team of Nicola Sturgeon, Jeanne Freeman and Jason Leitch who put a human face on it, and created a culture of love, kindness and solidarity rather than restrictions and compliance get a special mention here). But also the comedians like Janey Godley who put a very down to earth and disrespectful spin on it, and reached many who wouldn’t have responded to the voices of the establishment, the musicians and poets and events organisers who put everything on line so that even more people could access events. I hope we don’t lose this when face to face gigs begin to happen again.
- The sense of humour of the people who mocked and mitigated the lockdowns when everything was at its worst
- the kindness of people who set up small scale community support networks via whatsapp and community councils, and the ingenuity of people who set up new supply linesfor fresh food, delivery for catering outfits and ways to keep the small indie businesses afloat.
- the indomitable and ingenious fundraising for foodbanks, the NHS, and for refugees who have been shamefully neglected and mistreated by this excuse for a government
- the fabulous summer weather, which meant that we could walk and meet outside when we couldn’t visit each other.
- books, and the quiet to read and absorb them
- political protest, which didn’t stop for pandemics – the Black Lives Matter one is foremost in my mind, and I think that significant first steps have been taken to change not just structures, but mindsets. I have thought this before, and been disappointed, but we can only build on the foundations we have. Also the willingness people now show to engage with issues such as race, gender, equality, the rule of law, the constitution. A country is only as strong and stable as its citizens make it, and we are seeing a lot less willingness to leave it to the politicians, which can only be a good thing.
- the resilience and compassion of so many people who helped each other through bereavement, anxiety, illness, mental health crises, crushing responsibilities, job losses and all the other wreckage of the year. I never saw anyone reach out on social media without finding a safety net of support, prayer (of many different varieties) and good wishes.
There’s a lot to be grateful for, but frankly, the verdict on 2020 is ‘could do better’. Let’s hope 2021 does! I’ll leave you with a hopeful poem:
After the Dark Months
Spring comes steaming out of the ground
with the smell of mud, gorse blossom,
crushed grass and pond water.
Spring comes into the light,
ironing out the folded leaf and bud,
pumping colour into dim petal wings.
Spring comes singing in the morning,
hatches eggs and frogspawn, and opens
the wintered heart to a brightening dawn.
Happy New Year!