Here we are in December, the last month of the year 2020. A year we might like to forget as, for some, a lot of it was spent in splendid isolation, away from family, away from various hobbies and interests that were a routine and away from meaningful social interaction from friends and neighbours.
Who could have foreseen, when we wrote about the new year back in January and joked about the number 20:20 being a code for perfect sight, that a pandemic would devastate our lives in so many ways? From the worst possible scenario of losing a member of your family or close friend to the virus, to the interminable range of frustrating discomforts and changes we have had to endure.
Wearing masks and losing one’s own identity as well as not recognising others! Keeping physically apart to keep ourselves safe but at the expense of diminishing what makes us human, sociable and a community. Slathering sanitiser on hands followed by hand cream to offset the sanitiser! Learning how to use ‘Zoom’ and other ‘platforms’ (not railway station platforms, because public transport is dangerous to use!) and participate in activities in a new on-line world! Queueing for everything, everywhere, only allowed in to shops below a certain number.
Paying for everything by card, cash becoming dangerous and obsolete. Following signs, arrows and striped tape stuck everywhere, as if we have all lost any sense of direction. Losing long awaited, booked and, in some cases paid for, holidays! Dealing with selfish shoppers ‘panic’ buying enough toilet rolls to stretch from here to the distant loo in Alice Springs! Losing even more High Street shops as lockdown closure led to permanent closure with the loss of jobs just before Christmas.
Who would have thought we would have to make serious choices such as blind trust versus mistrust in leadership as more and more data is thrown at us; obedience versus liberty; compliance versus independence; total rule keeping versus selective rule breaking (wonder who started that?); social conscience versus self-interest; depression versus hope, as a vaccination appears on the horizon.
On the plus side, out of adversity comes deeper understanding. The appreciation of the NHS and other workers in key roles was palpable and public. Groups of people in smaller communities, like ours, rushed to fill the void of external support and organised collections and deliveries of food, medications and other basic necessities. Businesses adapted to stay viable, such as pubs cooking for take-away instead of in-house. Most importantly, Bildeston neighbours making sure everyone was OK in their little patch, just a phone call, or a quick knock on the door, step back smartly, and ask if everything was all right. Who could have predicted what a year 2020 would hold. We can only look back over a year that has changed everybody in one way or another and changed the way we go about our lives, possibly for ever. We can only hope the New Year brings better prospects for an effective vaccine for all and an end to the restrictions.
Meanwhile, from all of us at The Bugle, we hope you have a Merry Christmas!