What a year it’s been. It started just like any other year and became the Year of the Pandemic. I don’t feel bad that I didn’t see it coming, well, not too bad, anyway. Pandemics do seem to happen roughly every 100 years, and when that was put to me in February, I was quite dismissive. More fool me.
There is an old Chinese curse – may you live in interesting times. Never has that curse been more relevant. I think that 2020 was one of the most interesting years of my life, and probably almost everyone else’s.
I know it’s been an awful year for many people – deaths through Covid, and not being able to attend funerals of loved ones, businesses folding, redundancies. Long Covid and the effect it is having on people. I haven’t had to go through any of these things and for that, I count my blessings.
But things haven’t been all bad. We’ve seen some people do some tremendous things, as so often happens when there is any kind of adversity.
For example, there is little Tony Hudgell, whose birth parents abused him so badly that he had to have both legs amputated. This heroic little boy decided that he would raise £500 for the Evelina Children’s Hospital by walking 10k on his prosthetic limbs after seeing Captain Tom Moore walking. At the time of writing, he has raised over £1m.
Then there was Captain Tom himself. At age 99, on 6 April, he started walking laps of his garden, intending to do 100 for his 100th birthday, to raise money for NHS charities. By his birthday on 30 April, he had raised over £30m.
And then there was Kevin Sinfield. Kevin’s ex-Leeds Rhinos teammate, Rob Burrow, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019. Rob wore the number 7 shirt when he played rugby so Kevin Sinfield decided he would run seven marathons in seven days in order to raise money for MND charities. His aim was £77,777 but he raised over £2m.
All of these are wonderful examples of what people can do, and even more wonderful when you think it’s at a time when many people have lost earnings, so have less money to spare. And then there have been those who responded to the call for volunteers put out by the Royal Voluntary Service to assist with deliveries to those unable to leave their homes, and to telephone people who need someone to talk to.
For me personally, I started growing my vegetables again. Not 100% successfully, but this year will be better, and I did a lot of other work in my garden, so it will look better than ever in 2021.
I’ve taken a renewed interest in cooking, making things I would never have bothered making before because I used to eat out a lot.
I published my first books.
I’ve worked hard to get fitter and, in many ways, am fitter than I have been for about twenty years. I’ve achieved a few other things too, so I can only be grateful for what I’ve done.
What does 2021 hold?
We’ve got some vaccines now, although it’s going to be sometime before we are all vaccinated – more correctly, all those of us who are willing to have the vaccine. Will life ever get back to the way it was before? Somehow, I don’t think it will ever be quite the same again. People in countries where they’ve lived with SARS tend to wear face coverings as a matter of course, and I suspect that will persist here.
It will take a very long time for us, and other countries, to recover from the cost of the pandemic, and then there is the long-term effect on young people and children, with their education and how changes in the job market will affect them. We will all have to work hard to get things back on track.
Who knows what 2021 is going to bring? Just let’s all hope that we can continue to work together.
© Susan Shirley 2021