Mama Said: Let's be honest. 2020 was rubbish
As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back on the last 12 months. And let out a collective, cathartic scream, writes Emily Martin
2020 has been absolute garbage. OK, I’ll let you pretend for a brief moment that you enjoyed parts of it, even during lockdown numero uno. The spring lockdown. You railed against it at first, you cried a few times watching the news and covered the children’s ears but then you found new ways to love taking long family walks. Nature began to heal. You created fun ways of doing schoolwork and somehow your memories of those months are now bathed in the warm sunshine of your new and renewed appreciation for the seasons, thanks to 2020 happening to provide not only a deadly virus but also the most beautiful spring in living memory. The blossom so frothy, the sky a piercing blue, the river crystal clear for the first t. . .
OK, stop it. This year has been utter and complete garbage and now, as you read this, the chances are we’re either still in the thick of full lockdown number two. Or we’ve been released back into a tier system of restrictions. And no amount of buying new cashmere-mix loungewear and getting into Netflix will change the fact that this is the absolute worst.
The year's almost over and so there’s only one thing for it. Let’s have a round up of everything that was awful and then collectively let’s join together as one foot and boot the whole thing into a ditch.
Staying at home. In the summer, the “stay at home” instruction meant that if you were fortunate enough to have a garden you could at least get away from your family by going there. Or sending them there. And if you didn’t have a garden, then the people with gardens thought about you a lot. But now it’s winter, the “stay at home” instruction means even your garden can’t save you from all being stuck together in the living room. The window darkening by 4.30pm. The central heating drying your brain and your skin. Essential items only for dinner.
Masks. To be clear, I support masks. For goodness sake, wear your mask like your life depends on it. But please join me in hating it for what it’s doing to our already limited interactions. The other day it was raining quite hard and so, for the school run, I wore my pac-a-mac, with hood up, and my mask so that I was just EYES. Are you smiling at me? Am I smiling at you? What are you mouthing to me? Are your eyes filling with tears or is that just rain pelting against their glassy surface?
Home school. At the time of writing this, the schools are mercifully still open. But the thought of home school coming back at some stage strikes fear to the heart of every parent who spent the Spring trying to understand phonemes and number bonds, logging in to multi-coloured websites to find cheerful, talking animals wearing glasses, and all while being on a Zoom chat with 17 other people to talk about “strategy” and “the future”. When I close my eyes, I still see Joe Wicks jumping around his neutral coloured room, like a kangaroo.
Essential items only. The instruction to go to the shop for essential items only meant that every day when you went to the shop and bought three bottles of red wine, you had to do this joke with the cashier: Raise your eyebrows and mumble, “just getting the essentials”, while the cashier looked at you with the dead eyes of a person who’s been forced to hear this joke many times.
The park being shut. One day during lockdown numero uno, my son and I walked past the park and he gestured happily for us to go in. I had to explain that we couldn’t while he cried and wailed and shook the padlocked gate. It was one of the saddest bits of the whole thing.
Everything being shut. No pubs, no cafes, no restaurants, no cinema, no gym, no softplay. I hate softplay for many reasons which I may unpack in a future column, if it ever reopens. But for the record, I’d give anything for it to be open now.
Everything. Just everything. But the Prime Minister says things will all feel very different by the Spring so, have hope. And I will hope to find you on the other side of this wretched year when we can go back to complaining about normal things.
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