“I try not to think of this year as being an uphill struggle, full of hardship, suffering, gloom and despondency. I like to think of it more as sheer misery.” – Reverend I.M Jolly, 1980
No doubt Boris Johnson would have called him a doomster and gloomster. Well, in fairness, we all did.
But, as we prepare to ring in 2021, the sepulchral tones of Rikki Fulton’s miserable minister will be missed most of all on Hogmanay because, as he famously put it, 2020 has, absolutely, indubitably, been a hell of a year.
It can sometimes feel much longer than a year. The huge stories that left us agog in the early months – a finance secretary resigning on the eve of a budget or Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston prompting hopes of a reunion – now seem to have happened in another world and another century.
Then, at times, the weeks and months seemed to hurtle past as we strained our eyes to see some good news floating into view over the far-off horizon.
It has been a hard year for all of us but for some of us, it has been much, much worse and, if we can do anything this season of goodwill, we should think of those who have lost loved ones in hospitals without visitors and grieved them at funerals without mourners. It has been an awful business.
But we do not need to review the last year, or more specifically, the last nine months, here. There will be time for that and, on the eve of a new year, we should look forward with fresh hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. For a moment or two, we should try to look at the silver linings and ignore the dark clouds. The scientists and doctors are learning more about this virus and how to defeat it every day. Meanwhile, the rest of us are getting used to living with it, accustomed to our new daily rituals, to masks and hand gel and distancing.
It is, let’s be honest, far from optimum, but what can we do but keep calm-ish and carry on? We may be isolated in our little bubbles but we are not alone, we are all in it together and we will, one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, all get out of it together.
Robert Louis Stevenson once pointed out that it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive and after an arduous, perilous journey through 2020, we are still on the move.
Of course, Reverend Jolly, another great Scot, also knew a thing or two about arduous, parlous journeys. It was after after one stressful train trip that the churchman, recounting his experience in one of his famous Hogmanay TV addresses, somehow ended up getting a relaxing massage from a beautiful young woman who eventually, in a whisper, asked if he would like “super sex”.
“Well, if it’s all the same to you,” he replied, after a moment of thought, “I’ll have the soup.”
So from all of us to all of you have a super and safe 2021. Happy New Year.
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