I don’t write a diary.
It seems to me that if life is going spectacularly well, there is no time nor point in transcribing that happiness to paper. And if life is bleak – well, who wants to squander time in morose self-obsession that, read later, will seem simply that.
So no diary for 2020.
But if I had written one it might well read something like this …
JANUARY – something very vague and easily dismissed on the news about some virus in a remote city in China – 9 dead, evidently, how awful.
FEBRUARY – at Athens airport. Why are so many people wearing ridiculous face masks? How over the top and unnecessary. Back in London, what a brilliant exhibition on Troy at the British Museum- but the crowds! Shuffling shoulder to shoulder around the exhibits. People breathing down your neck. The same later in the squashed upper circle at the theatre – knees touching strangers’ knees for the entire performance. Oh well, where’s the harm? That’s glorious, crowded life in the city.
MARCH – all this virus business is getting a bit more serious. In fact, very serious.
Ah. Lack of loo rolls. No hand sanitizer. Lockdown. Furlough. New phrases entering day to day vocabulary.
APRIL: Zoom. It’s a thing ……but I’ll never cope with it.
Deserted streets – long walks – more long walks. Did Easter actually happen?
MAY: Zooming – no problem. Meeting number, please? Password? Waiting room? No, can’t fit you in at that time – the day is almost back to back with zoom meetings, you see. Will pencil you in for next Wednesday at 4.00 pm
JUNE: Great excitement! Hardware stores open! HOMEBASE – my saviour! Delight over paint colours replaces my deprived browsing amongst clothes racks – who knew a colour chart could be so thrilling and that it’s possible to have 246 different shades of white?
JULY: A train journey to London in a deserted carriage! Shops open again! Joy of all joys. The sad sight of deserted, boarded up theatres remains and looks so joyless and so – well, simply wrong.
AUGUST: Fortune smiles on the fortunate – and Crete allows us in – we embrace our house, water the water-deprived plants, sit at near empty cafes, tavernas, wander streets devoid of the usual summer tourists. But the sunsets and the spectacular starry night skies are the same. No virus can rob us of their beauty. And at least I will be back next month.
SEPTEMBER: Well, no – only on penalty of 14 days in isolation on return. So no celebration of my son’s birthday in Crete, no few days with close friends, – but things are, at least, gradually getting back to normal at home.
OCTOBER: Or not. And we thought we were doing so well ….the year’s rollercoaster continues.
NOVEMBER: Lockdown. OK, we know how it works this time round. And there’s light at the end of the dark November tunnel as Christmas lies ahead of us with the promise of 5 days for family and friends. We can keep going until then – hope on the horizon and all that …
DECEMBER: Trees are up, lights are on, presents are wrapped, shopping is completed and ….
So near and yet so far.
Christmas is not so much cancelled as changed beyond most people’s recognition.
Still, at least we are all experts in zooming by now – I can even do break-out rooms – and the entire nation has apparently taken to their screens to reinforce their family bonds.
Which is, after all, what it’s all about anyway.
So that was the year that was if I had recorded it in diary form.
I’m glad I didn’t bother.
That instead I was working on proper writing projects – final editing and reading of MILLER STREET SW22 and sending that off to the publisher and getting on with novel 4, THE ODYSSEY OF LILY PAGE.
I hope you all had a reasonable Christmas and I send my strongest and warmest wishes for 2021 –
And we do, after all, have the promise of those vaccines to comfort us – a very real hope on the very close horizon.
Now that might just be something worth recording in a diary!