There’s a very amusing joke doing the rounds at the moment which is a perfect summary of 2020. The Queen is sitting with a mask on at her desk to film her annual Christmas Day Speech to the Nation. And the caption is “Well - where do I ******* start?”
And that’s rather how I feel in attempting to look back on the year that we’ve all just lived through. However, I am an optimist, so my reflections will be about those things that have emerged this year which have been surprisingly positive. I’ve called them silver linings because they would not have been apparent if the black cloud of Covid 19 hadn’t descended over our heads. Back in March as we were placed under virtual house arrest, I felt strongly that heroes and villains would emerge as they always do at a time of crisis. You will have your own list of villains, as I have mine, but let’s not dwell on them.
Instead, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the things that have happened during 2020 which demonstrate the strength and positive power of the human spirit in a time of adversity.
Who in Society Matters Most?
This was the first question that the pandemic answered very rapidly. At the most basic level of survival we need doctors and nurses to care for those that are the most sick and to do so in places that are well staffed and well equipped. Then we need supply chains to ensure that vital goods like food are delivered and distributed in a safe and timely manner. It became quickly apparent what and who were essential to our basic survival. Suddenly we became aware of all those ‘key workers’ who keep the lights on, the rubbish collected and the food on our plates. I was also impressed that within about two days of lockdown I’d received a note through my door checking whether I needed help to get my shopping. I live on an anonymous London street, but a complete stranger was telling me that there was help if I needed it. How good that felt, and how good it was to make and receive calls from my friends as we checked up on each other.
My two heroes of the pandemic come from groups which are rarely celebrated for their heroism. One is a very old white man and one is a very young black man. Let’s start with the old one. Captain (now Sir) Tom Moore who just wanted to find a way to show his appreciation of our health service. So, in the days leading up to his one hundredth birthday, he decided to walk around his garden one hundred times to raise money. Hoping to attract sponsorship of £1000, he ended up raising a staggering £40m! How unexpectedly brilliant, and to boot he is a truly lovely man. My very young hero is a premier league footballer called Marcus Rashford. Like Tom Moore, he is an unlikely hero. However Marcus understood from personal experience that school closures meant hungry kids. So he decided to raise awareness of the problem and has twice forced the government to ‘u’ turn on the provision of free meal vouchers for kids on free school meals. I suspect that with no Covid19 neither Tom nor Marcus would have emerged into the national limelight, but how wonderful that they have done so in such admirable ways.
Do you remember the constant refrain of the early part of lockdown about how long a vaccine would take to develop? Eighteen months was frequently stated as the earliest possible given all the stages necessary to conduct proper clinical trials. Just nine months later 500,000 plus of the most vulnerable people in the UK have already received their first jab. What a wonderful testament to the ingenuity, intelligence and cooperation of our scientific communities worldwide. I know that presently most of us are back in some form of lockdown, but this time we know that the end is in sight. By late spring or early summer most of us should be in a position to resume lives which more closely resemble normality. We’ll be able to hug our grandchildren again.
Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.
If a year ago I’d told you we’d all be Zooming each other like pros, you wouldn’t have had a clue what I was talking about. The desperate need that we’ve all felt for some (any?) human contact has had the most amazingly beneficial effect on the technological competence of us oldies. I want to salute those of you who have properly got your heads round shopping online (including makeup), accessing services via the internet and using new methodologies to connect with others. I include myself in this group! The first time I tried to use Zoom with Lindsay, my personal trainer, it took me nearly a half an hour to make a connection which had both audio and video. But I gave myself a good talking to, persevered and now, if I am running a Zoom session for all you Super Troopers at 4.00 pm, I casually wander into my bedroom (where I do them) about five minutes beforehand. I hope you don’t feel patronised if I say that I am so proud when 150 plus of you click on all the right links so that you can join me!
Putting Faces to Names.
This has definitely been the best silver lining of all for me personally. When you run an online business you become familiar with many of the names of your most stalwart customers. Opening our two shops was a lovely way to actually meet a number of the delightful women in the LFF community. But all of that pales into insignificance compared to the pleasure I have had ‘meeting’ so many of you via our Super Trooper Facebook private group. Thanks to lockdown and the social isolation we were all feeling, the Teatime at the Ritz videos allowed me to commune daily with all you fantastic women whom I could then connect with and ‘see’ on FB. In the latter part of the year we’ve found further ways to engage via Zoom and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to a cross-section of you in our smaller breakout groups. What a pleasure this has been and it has transformed how I have felt during the past nine months. A further bonus is that the business has now become much more personal and much more satisfying as a result.
I realise that some of this is quite a personal list of silver linings and I’d love to hear what yours might be. I just felt the need to celebrate the many ways that people have ‘stepped up to the plate’ this year. 2020 has been a long and in so many ways gruelling year full of heartache, cruel disappointments and constant changes of plan. Despite this all the people I have celebrated here have shown a willingness to ‘Keep Buggering On’ whether they’re medical staff in hospitals or other key workers, Tom Moore in his garden with his zimmer frame, the vaccine scientists working round the clock or those forcing themselves to master new technology in order to feel connected with other people.
And finally to all of you, whether or not you are also a Super Trooper, thank you for making my 2020 better than I could possibly have hoped for. Here’s to 2021 and that miraculous vaccine which will hopefully set us all free!
A Very Happy New Year to You All!
Links and Information:
Dr Max Gowland, biochemist and founder of Prime Fifty, a range of advanced nutritional supplements tailored specifically to the over 50s, will be talking to Tricia about the supplements that really make a difference to our health and wellbeing as we age.