It’s New Years Eve and tradition dictates that I must review the year gone by for fear that no-one else will think to do it and the year would end unreviewed. Which would be a disaster.
This year, the year that will be being reviewed is 2021.
The best thing about 2021 was that it was not 2020. Although as it turned out, much of what made 2020 so hideous continued to happen in 2021. Apparently pandemics don’t end when the year ends. But we were confidently told that 2021 would be the year that the pandemic ended for once and for all and we would all be able to return to normality by Easter. I’m not sure any scientists made that prediction but I definitely recall politicians saying it, not least our own prime minister, who has never been anything less than reliable in his predictions as I recall.
Indeed so confident were the UK government that they had beaten COVID that they were partying in Downing Street long before the rest of us caught on that the pandemic was well and truly over. Of course those parties should really have featured in a 2020 retrospective but we didn’t find out about them until 2021, so I’m entirely entitled to reference them now.
In some ways life did return to a semblance of normality, and certainly by the time the summer rolled around there was little to suggest that the life in the UK was very much different to how life had been in the halcyon days of 2019. There were still rumours of an ongoing pandemic but if you stuck your fingers in your ears and sang loudly enough then you could definitely ignore it.
Also 2021 was the year of vaccines. Well I think the vaccines themselves came into existence in 2020, but just as COVID 19 came into existence in 2019 but didn’t get rolled out fully until 2020, so too the vaccines took a little while to get going. But 2021 was their year and I, never one to eschew a free jab in the arm, have now had three doses of vaccine – two Astrazenecas and a Moderna. I’m still holding out hope for a Pfizer in 2022.
Because the vaccines completely and totally eradicated COVID19 we were able to get on with other things in 2021, like going to work. And watching sport, with the return of international football and the Olympics and, well, all sport really.
We were also able to go back to pretending to care about stuff like the environment and climate-change, until we realised that we weren’t really prepared to make the kinds of lifestyle changes that would help to solve those problems.
Anyway, even though we definitely beat COVID in 2021, it decided to cheat and produce a new variant which apparently knows how to beat two doses of the vaccine. It’s not clever enough to beat three doses though, so it doesn’t deserve too much praise, but it was good enough to ruin Christmas for another year and for that I will grudgingly acknowledge that it played its hand well. The new variant is called Omicron, which is exactly the name I would give the new bad guy in a long running franchise. particularly one which has begun to become a bit predictable and needs a bit of a reboot. I can just imagine Boris shaking his fist at the sky and shouting “Curse you Omicron!” I expect that did happen. Anyway Omicron is possibly the worst thing to happen since the pandemic began or a fuss about nothing depending on who you listen to. It does mean that the pandemic story gets to roll into 2022, but no-one quite knows how bad it will be. I’ve given up making predictions, so I’m just going to continue my policy of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing loudly. And drinking beer. Beer always helps.
On a personal note, 2021 was a year of significant self-improvement. I finish the year a bit fitter than I started it, which is no small achievement when you consider that I finished last year a bit fitter than I started it. So in comparison to where I was in early 2020, I am now quite a lot fitter. This may be linked to having more time on my hands due to the pandemic, but as I work in a school which has been mainly open this year (and which still seemed to expect quite a lot of work from me when it was closed in January and February) and also the fact that I am parent to a small but demanding child, I’m going to attribute my regular exercise to a new-found will-power. It’s all relative – at the age of 42 I am fitter than I was at the age of 40, and probably fitter than I have been since the age of 35, but I’m still nowhere near as fit as I was in my late-twenties. Of course age is a factor in all of this, but I was never an elite athlete, so ‘being as fit as I was in my late-twenties’ is probably still a realistic goal for me to work towards. In November I ran a half-marathon for the first time since February 2014. It was the slowest I have ever run a half-marathon, but in comparison to my running capability at the start of the year, being able to complete 13.1 miles at any speed without dying was definitely progress.
Unfortunately I have proven, beyond all doubt, that exercise alone will not mitigate poor dietary choices when it comes to weight. So I might need to think about further lifestyle changes in 2022. But that can wait until tomorrow and I shall use the last day of 2021 to continue to eat, drink and be merry.
2021 also saw me attempt to write a novel when I participated in NaNoWriMo in November. I did not succeed, but I do now have a half-written novel, which I may decide to complete in 2022. I may not succeed in this endeavour, but half a novel is better than nothing when it comes to achieving my novel-writing ambitions.
Another 2021 achievement was when I completed a speed awareness course. I did, admittedly, have to commit a speeding offense in order to be invited to take part in the course, but it was a very informative course and well worth breaking the speed limit for. Unfortunately I’m not eligible to go on another course for 3 years, so any interim speeding offences will be met with the usual sanctions of fines, points on my license and increased insurance premiums. I expect I’ll endeavour to stay within the legal limits for that period of time. But in late 2024/early 2025 you can rest assured that I will definitely be committing minor speed transgressions in order to be able to access another such course.
Of course my achievements are nothing in comparison to those of Little Proclaims, who has learned much this year, not least how relieve herself in a potty. This was an emotionally taxing journey for all concerned and Little Proclaims was resistant to developing the skill initially but did eventually succumb to bribery. She will now do a ‘number 1’ for free, but still expects recompense for a ‘number 2’. Negotiations over the current rates are proving to be quite intense.
In a more general sense I feel that Little Proclaims has developed significantly in 2021. She started the year very much in the category of ‘toddler’ but finishes the year as a fully fledged ‘small child’. I’ve always enjoyed her company but occasionally we do now have reciprocal conversations and I find her more delightful than ever. I’m not sure how I’ll cope next year when she will almost certainly have surpassed my intellectual capacity, but at the moment we get on like a house on fire. Sometimes hunger and/or tiredness still results in the occasional tantrum, but I find she’s very tolerant of me when I do this.
Such have been the achievements of Little Proclaims and I that I’m sure Mrs Proclaims looks on us with much jealousy. After all, her PhD studies must seem quite inconsequential by comparison.
Anyway, I’m sure some other stuff happened in 2021 that I’ve managed to overlook, but what is beyond any doubt is that 2021 was a year, which is ultimately all it could ever really have been.