The Weeks That Were 2020

I normally write an end of the year post, with a bit of a look into the abyss that is the year to come.

if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee

Nietzsche

What a year it’s been, the recurring theme of a global pandemic has meant that much of what I might “normally” do has kind of been thrown into a cocked hat. But let’s give this review a go, and try and have a look towards 2021.


Reading.
I started out this year thinking that I wouldn’t read many books, thinking that I would be busy with work and wanted to concentrate on that. That held true for the first couple of months and then we went into lockdown. Again I didn’t read very much initially, my head being in a space that wasn’t conducive to much turning of pages, but as the year progressed I was drawn back to my love of reading and consumed book after book. At last count I’d read over 90 of them, and will probably get through at least one more before the year is out. Given the number of new ones that I was gifted for Christmas I have plenty to keep me going for the early part of 2021 too.

I’ve realised however that I don’t want to be driven by a target any more. I use GoodReads to track my reading and I will probably continue to do so, but for 2021 I’m setting the target to one. That way there’s no pressure and it doesn’t matter where I end up.

Trying to pick some favourites is difficult but there are some standout authors: Georges Simenon, Ellis Peters, Colin Dexter, Mick Herron; to name a few of them who I’ve gone back to repeatedly through the year.

I’ve also been consuming a lot of newsletters, my recommendations for you: Documentally, Pandemic Kitchen, Commonplace, David Charles and Austin Kleon.


Watching.
I saw my only film in the cinema in January, the final Star Wars film of the recent series. I’m not a great cinema goer but I had planned to see at least one more film (probably the new Bond film). So the pandemic put pay to that too.

So did we start watching a lot more on streaming services? No not really, in fact I’d say that we’ve watched a lot more repeats and reruns of older series and films than before. A lot of “Talking Pictures TV” for old series such as Hannay, Quatermass, Dick Barton: Special Agent and many other things.

We enjoyed the new series of Ghosts, alongside watching repeats of The Detectorists. Also series such as Inspector Morse, Inspector Montalbano, and The Wave.

Not sure where 2021 will take us, maybe back to the cinema in the latter part of the year? Who knows.


Listening.
I’ve spent a lot of hours in podcasts of all sorts. I’d particularly recommend: We Have Ways of Making You Talk, The Tim Ferris Show, Field Recordings, Coastal Stories, and 1857. A few other of my regulars have stopped recording, hopefully only temporarily and there’ll be back in 2021 along with my mainstays.


Working.
The year of Zoom, Teams, Hangouts, Google Chat, Facetime etc. Working from home is nothing new for me, I’ve been doing it full time for the last five years, but now so is everyone else. It’s been a bumpy year. 12 months ago I was breaking my usual rule and working between Christmas and New Year to complete some work for a client as it was needed early in the New Year. There were some other delays on that project which meant that timings were pushed back and then the pandemic hit and it got kicked into the long grass. Just recently it’s picked up again, but I’m not sure whether that is still on the revised timetable anymore either.

I managed to give one allotment talk in person in January but the rest were all cancelled, I did give one by Zoom, but that’s it, it seems the average age profile of my audience don’t do Zoom. All my talks for the first half of 2021 have similarly been cancelled. Not sure whether I’ll be in a position to deliver those booked for the second half of the year or not but I’m hopeful that I can. I can’t help thinking it will feel a bit odd stepping out in front of a live audience again.

I normally set an income target for my business, I’ve missed that for 2020 by some margin, I’m not eligible for any government support (long story) and so, like my book reading there’s not going to be a target for 2021.


Allotment.
All I will say that through 2020 this has been my happy place. I hope that will continue into 2021. I still have lots to do to get the plot ready for the new season but I still look forward to it.


Other Stuff.
At the start of this year, I was intending to get back into film photography and although I’ve not quite managed to do everything that I’d planned I have managed to spend a lot more time behind a camera than I might otherwise. I’ve been supported by a generous friend who gave me two of his old film cameras and I’ve enjoyed experimenting, trying new types of film and all sorts of other things. I’m intending to keep this going in 2021 and in general trying to explore my creative side more. Not sure what that actually means; but probably more photography, more growing, more cooking, more writing. Watch this space.

Probably the hardest thing that I’ve had to deal with this year is my Mum’s Alzheimer’s and the gradual decline that it causes. We had a very different Christmas last year because of it and this year was different again. She’s now in a care home which has helped her and me. Although this has been affected by the pandemic, and the times that I’ve been able to see her greatly reduced, I think the overall outcome would have been the same.


That’s it. My 2020. It’s been a year hasn’t it! I’m not sure whether I’m going to resume my weekly Week That Was posts next week or at all, it feels like I need to mix that up a bit to, but then again…



I wish you all the very best for 2021 and hope that you stay safe and well.