Merry Christmas!

2020 hasn’t been the best of years. Think where you were this time last year, and what you expected from this one – I doubt that it was learning to share your screen on zoom. I can’t think of any other skills I’ve attained, and I’m not even very good at that. Break-out rooms sound exciting – and a bit illicit – but are entirely beyond me.

First, though, I have been extraordinarily lucky, as neither I nor my close family, have had Covid-19. We didn’t do anything clever, and I have been working directly with patients throughout. We didn’t do anything very silly, either; I believe most people are trying to do the best they can, although it hasn’t always been easy to know what that is. But we are relatively unscathed and grateful.

Actually, the year started quite dramatically for us. Mr T went off on yet another trip to Mexico, causing me for some reason to slightly lose the plot. Odd after all these years of desertion. Stay here or else! I said threateningly, although even I hadn’t anticipated that a pandemic was going to cause exactly that. Be careful what you wish for, is all I can say. What’s more, during this admittedly brief trip, Jacob the Dog also gave up eating and drinking. Naturally I assumed he was pining, and used this to further stoke Mr T’s guilt. But it transpired that Jake had the unusual affliction of Addison’s Disease, and was soon back to himself with a few ‘roids. It’s apparently very rare in springer spaniels – I’ve always had my suspicions about that dog, and was about to send his DNA for testing to see whether he might have been a poodle all along. But that was when lockdown struck, and the details of Jacob’s genetics suddenly all seemed a bit less important.

Up until March, we had been in our first year of empty nesting, and it was great! I might have known it was too good to last. I went to fetch Clara, after inadvertently drinking six Espressos to maintain my alertness while driving (I thought it was three), and she was stuck with us for another four months. She focussed mainly on her suntan, but did do her bit by shopping for her grandparents. I suspect she was slipped the odd tenner. But she was back at university in the summer, which I’m sure was a great relief to her even though her studies have mostly been online. She has just finished her last exam from home – there was unfortunately difficulty uploading it leading to some death-defying screaming, but all is well now.

Elinor has been working full-time in a care home since June. Her university graduation, like so many others, was cancelled, and she’s back living with us too. Under her tutelage, Mr T and I are adopting a fairly vegan diet, and are feeling quite smug about it. We thought we would lose quite a lot of surplus weight, but I suppose the hastily scoffed pies and wine when she’s at work don’t help. She seems to have become very fond of her residents, and has been raising money for dementia through a rather challenging fitness regime. The pools closing again may sentence her to a bit of wild swimming. This is a terrifying thought, and I’m sure sloshing about in a nice big warm bath would be better – if not quite in the spirit.

Fortunately Josie and Brodie have their own place, so we weren’t affected when they adopted a little puppy of their own. Not much, anyway. They’d had our Lola, the geriatric spaniel, to stay during the first part of lockdown, so realised some of the implications of what they were taking on. They’re teaching him quite a lot of tricks, and he can allegedly open doors (not something our dogs have ever learnt), but I have had to say to Josie that she lets him watch too much TV. I never let my children watch much TV. They were too busy making crafts, and engaging in outdoor activities, I think. My memories are a bit vague of that time.

I also realised this year how lucky Mr T is to have so little hair. I was in the unfortunate position last March of having longish, coloured hair with a fringe, which might have been OK if I’d been working from home. I now have the same, but without the fringe, which is slightly more lock-down friendly, but I would never have grown it out without the unusual carte blanche granted by this year to look absolutely awful. It’s been liberating. Masks have been a problem though, as I’ve always been keener on lippy than eyes. However lippy is now pointless, and I’m trying to learn how to apply eyeliner to the more mature eye with my notoriously shaky hands. The results on the left eye are particularly rubbish.

I hope things get better soon, for all of us. There are no certainties, and I would have hated to have been running this country, but I have no doubt now that the mental health of many is being affected. All the things that keep us healthy – exercise, outside, above all meeting people – are harder, and we have no real idea when this will change. For me, continuing to go to work has, despite my moaning, been a life saver, and I know I would have struggled with Mr T’s lot in life this year. Working here, with the highlight of the day being a masked trip to the shops, hasn’t been easy. At least we both have work, but it’s no competition, and I don’t think we should underplay the difficulties for anyone this year.

Normally, at this time, we’d be looking forward to the coming year, with hopes and plans. It’s hard to do that this year, but we should probably try. One thing’s for sure – 2021 will not be 2020. It could be great!!

With love

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