A few weeks ago I put myself through the misery of a one-hour BBC documentary charting the pre-pandemic course and the scientific response (or lack of) as things unfolded in China, and later Europe.
It was like watching a horror movie.
We’ve all lived through this horror movie this year and I don’t intend on a eulogising look back through this hellscape – but unfortunately even most of my highlights of 2020 are from the context of covid. I have every intention of this being a positive piece of writing to reflect my own being, but it is of course grounded in the situation and not every turd can be glittered.
I guess I should start with some covid shit. My top 6 are definitely my top 6 moments of the year – but previous 9 moments have no real order.
15. Masks on tubes
I don’t even know where to start with the emotional clusterfuck of covid and its restrictions. From the worry over whether it would stop me from going to Japan, to wondering when I would ever see another human. How the whole scenario made me angry, confused, anxious – and for quite a few weeks in May/June I was in quite a pit of misery…many others said that they also struggled in May/June.
But for me, peak misery was when masks on tubes were announced. The thought that I would be stuck in Harrow forever depressed me.
And fuck, the arguments about masks. Gosh…I generally don’t like being on the same side of the argument as a Corbyn, so it was quite painful defending it. I still think I’m right in that they are bullshit, and suspect that they may even have contributed to this new super-spreading variant, but I guess we’ll never know (or won’t be told for years).
But eventually I relented and got on the tube. I sometimes even put it over my nose now.
14. Guess who’s garden
So we’d all gone from working in the office as a team, to working from home – which for me was a delight, no Metropolitan line, being able to wake up when I was ready, being much better able to control my diet.
Yet there was something missing in terms of team cohesion, and everyone kind of asking if people were OK but not really sure if they were themselves, of course having to handle the whole situation and the new experience of being in separate silos – and being very alone.
Which is when I realised the answer. I organised a game of “Guess Who’s Garden” for the team one Friday afternoon and I really (possibly deludedly) think this actually helped, and our regular Friday games from then on helped enforce our team spirit.
My new team that I joined in November doesn’t have anywhere near the camaraderie – and my old team no longer has their socials.
13. THAT spring weather
Spring at times was fucking miserable because of you know what – as I mentioned above there were times when I was more miserable and down than I had been in a good decade or more, especially a 3-4 week spell in May and June where my solitude and hopelessness really got to me.
And maybe the long, glorious spring of watching my neighbours sunbathe whilst I was working didn’t actually help matters, not to mention the drills, the chainsaws and the fucking lawnmower every single day. But looking back now in the depths of winter and the second wave, the weather really was gorgeous.
I was quite happy with my short shorts on in my front garden, drinking my IPAs, listening to minimal techno, reading about covid-19 in The Economist.
12. Falling in love
Yes, you read correctly. Summer was a glorious time, I fell in love with Lola, so sweet, so sexy, so chilled and so white that even my most distant relatives in Hull would approve.
Yes, my AEG Chillflex Pro air conditioning unit kept me cool all summer – no matter how hot the rest of the house was, my bedroom was chill.
11. RIP Swennieh
Oh man. If there was ever someone I met that didn’t need 2020 to teach them to make the most of life, it was my dear friend, Swennieh.
The news came in August, I think. I didn’t believe it at first. Then I cried. What a top bloke and I was honoured to know him. If you knew him, you know exactly what I’m on about.
I know a couple more close friends lost loved ones, and another close friend has successfully been battling cancer. It always puts my own struggles into context.
10. Barnard Castle
For me it was the political moment of the year. The guy – the unelected advisor who’s self-appointed mission was to fight unelected advisors – in one fowl swoop (foul swoop or fowl swoop?) managed to undermine everything the government had been attempting to do with the lockdown.
Every single time from that moment onwards, someone had a third person on a pub table, had a hug indoors, drove to Beacon Beacons – whatever the cursed break of whatever new rule – “but Dominic Cummings” was the answer.
Seriously, how many times did you excuse your minor rule-breaking with “but Dominic Cummings drove his kids to Barnard Castle to test if he could see”?
If Boris Johnson had had sacked him on the spot, whilst the pandemic course would not have changed, the public would be more likely to be paying attention now. Alas, he had to wait for Carrie to defenestrate him. Oh for a proper leader. Anyone. Any party.
Next slide, please.
9. Not going to Japan but I made people laugh
I guess I live to put a smile on people’s faces.
Still would have preferred to have gone to Japan. Fuck you, China.
8. Hull City losing 8-0
Part of being a Hull City AFC fan is being able to enjoy misery. Memories consist of singing songs like, “silverware, we don’t care” and “how shit must you be, we’ve scored a goal”. I feel like I enjoyed being a Hull City fan more when we were proper shit in the 90’s.
At the end of January, we were 8th in the league, challenging for the play-offs and I stuck £5 on us being relegated at 250-1. I mean, there was a thought process other than being a Hull City fan – I’d watched a couple of games and we were shite, I thought our manager was clueless, I thought we’d fluked some recent wins. I knew we were selling our star player. 8th in the league though.
We then went on a run of 12 games without winning, we were one point above the relegation zone and about to play a team in the relegation zone when – BOOM. Yes, I cannot even do a football post in 2020 without mentioning covid. FFS.
But when the league restarted, we were even worse – and lost 8-0 to Wigan. Wigan got relegated.
We finished bottom. I won circa £1,150.
Making money from your football team being relegated? That is such a 2020 thing.
7. Boris’ Christmas emotional stabbing
I don’t know where to start with this.
I don’t blame Boris Johnson for the pandemic. I blame China. I do however blame Boris Johnson for running a government of incompetence and cronyism.
And for giving us false hope about Christmas. I could cope with not being able to see my parents at Christmas – I don’t mind having to wait a couple of months for things to calm down again, for the vaccine to be rolled out. But it was the pretending that everything would be fine for 5 days despite expert’s advice that it was a bad idea. It was the hope that killed me. And one very upset family.
Oh for a proper leader. Anyone. Any party. I feel like I’m repeating myself. OK, only happy shit from here. No more Boris Johnson.
One of my closest advisors suggested going for a staycation in October. Another of my closest advisors also joined.
We settled on the idea of going to Cornwall, which is somewhere I’ve never been before and is absolutely stunning. Who needs Tokyo’s used panties vending machines when you can go to Drippy Droppy?
It was less than 3 months ago yet feels 3 million tiers away, we stayed in a converted mill, had some nice walks, saw the beach, shit myself at the cliff edge a few times, pined for proper London beers, had a pastie.
And finally managed to visit two good friends on the way in Dunster for a roast dinner who I’d only been promising to visit since before the referendum. Not mentioned Brexit much, have I? You impressed?
No, not that Stratford, the one with the river.
As soon as we were allowed, me and my sister went north to see our parents – though they wouldn’t hug us or come anywhere near. Well, we went one day before we were allowed to , but you know, “Dominic Cummings”.
And then we booked a family holiday in Stratford-Upon-Avon for a few weeks after. Staying in a Travelodge. On the 3rd hottest day ever in Britain.
It easily goes down as one of my most memorable and fondest moments of the year – being able to go away, albeit in the UK, with my family after a pretty emotionally scarring few months.
And my mum hugged me.
4. I’m a future star
Work couldn’t really have gone any better this year. The pandemic meant that I got to work from home every day which I love – no more moaning about the Metropolitan line. I’m healthier, more productive, yadda yadda.
And I got a new manager. A vegan. Uh-oh. But he’s sound as fuck and doesn’t mind my hesitantly mentioning what I do on a Sunday (whenever I’m allowed to, anyway).
I’m officially in the “future star” box, which 10% of staff are and is the second best rating. I am actually going places and it feels like it. I love working for M&S and even better that they seem to like me too.
I still have to pinch myself – 4 years ago I’d just been fired from my first web developer job, which was a bit of a failure, with the words, “I don’t think you are cut out to be a developer”.
Need to add a few more strings to my bow next year, then come 2022’s moments, I will hopefully be writing about a promotion. Or a new job. Your call, M&S. And don’t you dare ever again tell me that I should do Veganuary.
3. I actually lost weight
Every year I say that I am going to lose weight and almost every year I put on weight.
I finished 2019 at a whopping 107.5kg. I will finish 2020 at a still whopping 100.5kg – I was actually down to 97.3kg at the end of the plastic lockdown but then I started drinking again.
And you know what this is thanks to? Yep, the pandemic. And working from home. Next year, my goal will be to become officially “fat”.
Investing in the stock market has been one of the most enjoyable things that I’ve done all year, which is possibly kind of sad and maybe I wouldn’t have said this had I not made circa 20% profit.
Certainly I wouldn’t have firstly put so much money in, and also had the spare money to invest, were it not for the pandemic. So, thanks covid – you’ve helped my financial situation.
I have to say that I have always wanted to test myself against the stock-market, as I’m arrogant enough to think I know enough to do well. And so far so good, though any idiot could have made money this year had they started investing after the crash. Yet I am outperforming the FTSE by some way.
Early days, but it has given me hope that I might actually be able to save for a deposit for a flat. There is now a plan and for the first time ever I think I can actually be able to save up for a deposit for a flat in some dosshole in outer London.
But how the fuck is Tesla worth £1.3m per car produced?
1. My 40th birthday
I was blessed enough to have my birthday pre-covid, back in January when it was a thing that was bad in China but could never happen over here.
The Wednesday of my actual birthday I spent with my sister, who proved even more indispensable in 2020 and not just because she can drive me places. We went to Casa Tua for brunch, Flight Club to play darts in the afternoon, then Blacklock for dinner. Ohhh Blacklock. So, so good.
On the Saturday we spent the day and evening at Mare Street Market, and loads of people I love turned up.
And the Sunday we had a roast dinner, with two lots of Rule Of Six groups all around the same table – crazy shit. It feels so distant a time now, but I’m delighted that I do have some great memories from my 40th birthday.
So, thanks for helping me get through 2020. I hope in my inane attempts at humour I helped you a little bit too. Thanks for arguing with me about masks. Thanks for arguing with me about Brexit. Thanks for not arguing with me about the wrongs of racism (well, mostly).
Maybe I’ll see you in 2021. Or maybe I won’t!
Love to all.