Reasons to be Cheerful

You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 has been a pretty difficult year for most people. This time last year we were all completely unaware of what was around the corner.

In just a few short months the whole population of this and most other countries would be forced to stay at home; that we would all become very familiar with the interiors of our work colleagues’ homes and would have “met” their children and pets on a daily basis and that face coverings would be the must have fashion accessory for the autumn/winter season.

As the country lurches from one lockdown to the next partial one it is easy to look at the negatives, to dwell on the bad things that have happened in the past few months. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. Shake off the gloom and peer forward into the spring and summer of 2021 and there is definite reason for hope.

I’ll start with the small things. There has been a lot of talk about the new normal. But suddenly the old normal, the one we had all become a bit tired and bored of, will be a bright new shiny thing. We will take pleasure in the minutiae of life, in the little things that used to drive us up the wall. The commute. Queuing at the bar. Packing for a holiday.Then there are the slightly bigger things. The ones we have been denied for almost twelve months. Just think how good that first big family party will be, or that first concert, football or rugby match, that first night at the theatre. That first hug from someone dear.

2020 came with its challenges and its heartbreak, but it did provide some positive experiences. Many of us were able (forced…) to spend a lot more time with our families. With our increasingly busy lives, those times were something we would never normally have had, and though it was testing at times, they are times that in the most part have had a beneficial effect. They are certainly times our children will not forget.  

The pandemic also saw the world pulling together (if you managed to stay off Twitter) and has seen incredible work done by scientists across the globe, not forgetting those who took part in the trials. To get a vaccine, indeed several vaccines, up and running and approved in such a short timeframe is nothing short of remarkable and a sign that human beings can work together for the sake of mankind, something few thought they were capable of this time last year.

On a more local level, we have all had to change our working practices at the drop of a hat. We have achieved in months weeks, even days, what would have taken years. We have done it almost ourselves, without the need for steering committees, endless meetings and training days in some faceless hotel in Slough. For that we should be awarded a huge pat on the back, albeit a socially distanced Zoom one.

The fact that it looks like we are going to get through this, something that many were predicting could change life on the planet for good, is also a huge positive, and again an indication of the robust nature of us as a race. I am hopeful that the experience will reset our values, will force people to re-evaluate their priorities. This time last year the things that would have kept us awake at night, the issues we were dreading, went for the most part unrealised, forgotten even. We have all also realised how quickly things can change, how things we assumed were set in stone can almost overnight become like sand. That too, should make us appreciate what we have, a little bit more.

I am not naïve enough to not know that there will be tough times ahead, that the economic effects of the pandemic will be with us for a long time yet.  But if you look for them there are positives out there, not least of which is that 2021 should certainly be a lot better than 2020. There is of course an elephant in the room, one waving a shiny new blue passport, but that is a debate for another day.

So as we approach the end of the year, here is to another one, a better one. One when we shall all be using the words furlough, lockdown, unprecedented and substantial a lot less. With that I wish you all the very best for the remainder of 2020, and for a happy, healthy and possibly even wealthy 2021.

Iain Rainey