Remember writing Christmas cards in December 2020? In 2020, we had had our vocabulary widened to include words such as social distancing, furlough, and N95. We had #stayathome as a hashtag. The coming year, we fervently promised each other, would be an improvement. Those postponed weddings, parties, celebrations: all would take place. We looked forward to a post-pandemic paradise.
What did 2021 actually bring? More of the same. In the UK, we went into the new year and into our third lockdown. Our vocabularies widened again as we acquainted ourselves with the lesser known members of the Greek alphabet. (How did we leap to Omicron? What happened to Kappa, Lambda and Mu?)
It was as if time itself was suspended. We would simply wash our hands and wear our masks forever. Governments that had made spectacular mistakes in 2020 spectacularly made the same mistakes all over again in 2021. (Only with the dubious addition of Peppa Pig, this time.) The dazzling promises that the miraculous vaccinations waved at us became less shiny when we realised we needed more of the darned things just to keep up with an opportunistically mutating virus. Mutating because we had never dealt with the coronavirus rationally as a world-wide problem but one where individual nation states fought each other for facemasks. (Bit like climate change.)
Nevertheless, it is the fate of a large slice of humanity to look on the bright side. Hence, despite the fact that the NHS is building makeshift care facilities in car parks, despite the fact that this time next year we’ll probably be onto the Omega variant, despite the fact that you’d struggle to locate a sensible government minister with the aid of the James Webb space telescope, we still hold out hopes for 2022.
It’ll be a much better year, we promise each other on our Christmas cards. Has to be. Has got to be…
Happy new year.