The year that was .. 2021

This year has been a very strange one, personally I have had some real highlights, but there has been a peculiar feeling to this year, anxiety, anger, sorrow. This was supposed to be the year when the pandemic became a memory, however Covid remains the top news story and as I write this, there is a phenomenal drive on getting everyone boosted following their 2 vaccinations this year and we await news of potential new restrictions. It was relief to be able to visit my parents last week, but this was not done until we had all had negative LFTs and we only did events outside to protect and save us from a Christmas in isolation. Life is the same but different and I think we will all take a time to recover from the past 18 months, life has lost its spontaneity and plans are now only tentatively made.

The year started badly as my work had a big outbreak of Covid. We were at work onsite everyday and I was one of those trained to do the testing (in full PPE) I witnessed the double lines and needing to break it to staff that they needed to do a PCR as their LFT was positive was horrible. Our students were also separated from family and their level of disability meant that some were unable to understand what was happening, why they couldn’t see parents, do their favourite things or that they were ill and needed to stay in their homes, this was heart breaking. Sadly some of our most vulnerable and staff and students contracted Covid and the worry was immense, it was in my thoughts 24 hours, 7 days a week. I was emotionally fragile by the end of the outbreak with a level of cleanliness which probably bordered on obsessive. I also feel that the effects of this period will haunt me for a long time, there was never any time to pause and recover, the next outbreak was only ever a few months away. If I feel like this I cannot imagine how our doctors and nurses are, they are the true heroes of this year, I have never been prouder of our NHS and did have a little cry each time I was given my vaccination. I have remained very cautious throughout the year, even as the restrictions lessened, I continued to wear a mask in shops and on the one occasion I went on a train. I have avoided indoor events and pubs and restaurants if they didn’t have outdoor seating areas. Socialising with friends has changed, we now tend to get a takeaway coffee and walk and talk or share a meal in a friend’s garden around an open fire. Life has changed during the pandemic, priorities are different and values strengthened, perhaps there is no normal to return to and now is the time to develop our own path forward.

Away from Covid, there were many news stories which made me so angry, how the issues which we campaigned against as teenagers are still in the news in 2021, and worse still how we seem to have regressed in addressing and countering racism and misogyny. Society seems more splintered and divided this year, the consequences of Brexit continue and this year saw shortages and a petrol crisis, at times this was a really grim year. Best not to get me started on the government..

All the major events were affected by Covid and we had many of the big sporting events postponed from 2020 this year, the Olympics and Euros. Both gave special memories, England reaching the final of the Euros remains their best performance in my lifetime. However, it was the way in which the team behaved, and the values they shared that lasts, a team which promotes an inclusive and fair society is one to cherish. The Olympics were fun and new sports were discovered, although an Olympics without crowds was a spooky experience to view, lets hope for a raucous and loud Olympics In Paris.

Initially I though 2021 was going to be a transition year ‘back to normal’ it wasn’t as Covid continued to affect daily life, from lockdowns, significant international travel restrictions to a return to even more restrictions by the end of the year . My hope is that 2022 will be the transition period and life will be filled with more sparkles in the coming year.

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