Having to write a review of the year is painful as I have to relive it. Lockdowns and quasi-lockdowns reduce the year to a grey goo like an ill-cooked pudding with sudden bitter raisins.
Early in the year COBRA met to discuss what to do about the opinion poll crisis and selected more COVID measures as a fix. They also received a complaint that their name has neo-colonialist pretentions, so the committee was renamed ‘Grass-snake’.
Over in America, the year started with Q-Anoners staging a coo-ee, which was apparently the worst thing ever to happen in that city (and this of a small city which has more murders every year than the whole of Britain has), or at least the worst until the new President was inaugurated a few days later.
Here meanwhile after Grass-snake met we were told ‘Happy New Year – you are all under house arrest’. To be fair, the rule was only introduced on the understanding that it would be ignored, and I could claim a journalist’s exemption, which surely the rules imply if unsaid, but the schools were barred and bolted too, so no relief from loud children.
Members of SAGE complained that the restrictions were not harsh enough, and everyone should have their front door nailed shut, so they cannot go out and look for their wife after her meeting with the professor.
In March a Prince and Princess appeared on trailer-trash TV in America; the less said the better. In the meantime life went on as normal with new, exciting strains of SARS-COVID-19, riots, unsociallysdistanced protests at a school peacefully demanding the dismemberment of a teacher, and Belfast returned to normal, with rioting.
Rioting became quite a fashionable activity in places. Bristol was having another go after its statue-toppling time the previous summer and now any political cause is an excuse for a party with fire-bombs.
In all this, cancel culture went on, becoming the best satire in the house. Who said it is killing comedy when maddened ochlocracy is the funniest thing about?
A fundamentalist breakaway from SAGE was formed, called ‘THYME’.
In May, we were graciously permitted to vote in elections: in Scotland and in Wales the most hated parties both won power again convincingly – well, we need someone to grumble about. It has in fact been quite a year for elections: Hartlepool humiliating Labour; Airdrie and Shotts unnoticed; Chesham and Amersham humiliating Boris; Batley & Spen; Old Bexley and Sidcup humiliating the press; North Shropshire sounding a knell. It is a knell still sounding – from Boris flying higher in the polls than Icarus, to falling lower than Icarus. He may take a classical lesson – others of us may consider that Conservatives have been wildly popular, and Boris is no longer a Conservative.
There were some Extinction Rebellion things too, if anyone noticed, and some bizarre people gluing themselves to roads. THYME at least were delighted that blocked roads stopped people meetings or spending money in shops.
There was some sort of football tournament on too: the cheers and the weeping, overheard in every street, told how deeply the two sides in the COVID lockdown debate feel about crowds.
In October and November the jets and vehicle convoys piled into Glasgow. The wisest came by train, as the only way to stop their hubcaps being stolen. Greta flew in of course. The city was delighted to host such a prestigious gathering – until the townsfolk realised the meeting wanted to stop global warming, when a warmer climate is exactly what Glasgow could do with.
The conference was then blamed for a surge in COVID according to the official government advice panel, now known as ‘HYSSOP’.
Oh, and there was a fuss over MPs objecting to the expulsion of one of their colleagues by a ‘commissioner’ whose academic qualification is a degree in women’s studies from a gym in the Midlands, and another over a post-work party that looked very tame compared with what most of us were doing. Still who am I to accuse?
Now New Year’s parties are legal for 90% of the nation – the tinpot premiers of Scotland and Wales have banned them, so now the pubs of Northumberland and Cumberland, of Cheshire, Gloucester and Hereford are booked solid, and signed have appeared on the Tweed and the Wye saying “Welcome to Free Britain”, and long may Scots celebrate in Nicola’s face. It’s Burns Night round ours soon enough.
Even after lockdowns, masks and madness, this cursed year is not over. The midnight chimes cannot come soon enough.