2021 A Year Of Emotional, Financial and Social Austerity

Image of Austerity: an axe with the text Age of Austerity

As I write this Brexit is done, and the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, and will join the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being rolled out throughout the UK.

With a combined 140 million doses ordered by the Government, and a population of around 68 million, that is enough for the two doses required per person if everyone were to be vaccinated. Of course there will be some wastage, some people wont want the vaccine, and many wont require it BUT it seems fairly safe to say that the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed the exit rather than that of the oncoming Pandemic Express.

If we dare to assume the above is true we can start to get on with planning life with more certainty, but what will that life look like?

First though, the question of the length of the tunnel. If I am allowed to mix units of measurement, the optimist in me says end of Quarter 1, the realist in me the end of Quarter 2, the pessimist …. surely the end of Quarter 3??!!

As ever much is in our hands: how patient will we be? how disciplined can we be? what type of lifestyle do we want? what are we prepared to do without? and perhaps the biggest question of all, how tolerant of each other will we be?

Both Brexit and the Pandemic have brought out the best and the worst of the UK Population: clap for carers, 750,000 NHS volunteers, Sir Major Tom and the amazing £32m people donated. On the other hand both have, for much of the time, resembled a hate filled local derby match: you were either a Remainer or a Leaver, a Believer or a Sceptic. Understandable in that we have always believed ourselves to be a passionate and proud country, but at the same time disappointing as we seem to have lost the ability to debate intelligently, to recognise others concerns, to tolerate differences, to “muddle through” together. Much as we liked to talk about our war time success and spirit many seem to have forgotten we won the way because of the support of our allies (Leavers seem to have skipped history at school), and many of the younger generation seem to have forgotten that during the war many gave their lives for future generations, and I am pretty sure that didn’t mean that they could be discarded because a visit to the pub or a fast food outlet was more important.

Looking at Brexit first. I was living in Spain during the Brexit Referendum and I have written before on this subject so I will keep this brief: I was a Remainer. I would like to have been a Leaver as I felt the EU had become too big for it’s boots and too large an entity to be efficient, but I was concerned that the UK was not as well positioned as it thought it was and lacked the leadership to negotiate and implement a good deal.

I have seen nothing to make my change my mind, and more importantly I have not heard a rational or persuasive argument to make me change my mind. To be blunt many seem to feel that repeating mantra like the Leavers campaign slogans and promises was enough, but then again the Remainers did the same.

Having lived, and worked, in several countries including America, Spain and the UK I felt (and feel) capable of forming my own view based on my own experiences, conversations and research.

At the end of the day though I have enough years behind me not to be overly worried about Brexit: it will neither be as good as people hoped for or as bad as people feared. Computers were going to be the end of us, the internet was going to take away all our jobs …….. some will gain, some will lose, life will go on, and we will adapt. Wounds may even be healed, but I am less confident in that happening.

No, the issue that concerns me most (or would if I was the type of person to get concerned) and which brings me back to my third paragraph and what life will look like, is the aftermath of the Pandemic.

For the record I think that Boris, his cabinet, his Government and the Conservative party have been inept, incompetent, incomprehensible and lacking in pretty much everything including leadership, honesty, morality, and decency.

I should say that I have pretty much the same view as to how Government and Opposition handled the whole Brexit process, the bar that Boris inherited was pretty low, but he has managed to lower it to the point that I think it is actually buried.

Yet still, we, the Great British Public have somehow managed to make me feel (or at least experience a slight tingle) sorry for them. We have repeatedly, selfishly and shamelessly ignored the rules, treated the scientists with contempt, believed we knew best and put so much energy into finding ways around the rules, rather than putting our energy into helping each other adhere to them.

Yes, of course, a relatively small minority but a) COVID-19 only needs a small gap in the door to force its way in to everyones lives, and b) the majority need to take a lot of responsibility for allowing the minority put us all at risk.

At my age, with elderly parents who have been absolutely amazing throughout, as one might expect of that generation, I have been particularly disappointed in how dismissive so many have been of their age group: to say they have lived their lives and it’s time for the young to have a life, that they would have died anyway of something or other.

I can’t help but think that this approach has a significant, short sighted, flaw to it: what generation typically owns the businesses that the younger generation rely on for jobs? In a service led economy which generation(s) have the disposable income to keep the younger generation employed in the leisure and hospitality sector? If the pubs were so great why were so many going out of business year after year well before COVID-19 came a calling, and let’s be honest those that were keeping their heads above water were increasingly dependent on a certain generations disposable income.

Much was talked about a “new normal” post COVID-19 and of taking the opportunity to adjust, reprioritise, reevaluate, spend more time with family, establish a better work/leisure balance but what happened as soon as the Lockdown restrictions eased: pub, fast food, holiday in the Sun …… you take take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

So returning once again to the third paragraph, what will a post COVID-19 life look like.

Personally it wont be much different than before (hypocrite I hear you cry) although there will be on quite significant change.

If you look in the sidebar on the site you will see our planned events for 2021, which in effect are those rescheduled from 2020 along with this years cricket schedule. I will probably renew my Old Trafford membership, although my parents have opted not to and instead have both taken out Warwickshire CCC membership. Hopefully will be able to add a couple of internationals at Twickenham and Sands is keen for us to support the RSC in Stratford upon Avon, but that is it.

My parents enjoy a Sunday Lunch at the local Golf Cub and as long as they want to keep going we will go once a month, but I doubt it is something Sands and I would continue as we both much prefer a home made lunch at home. They both enjoy our monthly trip to Weston Park for lunch, but again not really my thing. On the other hand the annual Christmas Carols and Lunch at Weston Park is excellent and as long as they do it we will try and go.

We like the NRI Blanc restaurant, but only go about 4 times a year, and similarly there is a Chinese Takeaway locally we like – but again maybe 4 to 6 times a year.

Pub? No thanks. Just have no interest in what they have to offer these days.

2020 reinforced several things for me: I do not need a Gym to stay fit – an exercise bike in the Garage, some small weights, a pilates mat and walking the dogs is absolutely fine. I absolutely love being at home and whist I am happy to be joined by others I don’t need it, and I certainly don’t need to be invited back.

More than anything though it reinforced that a quiet, home based life, spent with family, friends and our animals is all I need. I probably have all the “stuff” that I need, and I certainly intend to make do with what we have for the year.

To (finally) get to the point of the title my plan for 2021 is pretty much to ignore everyone else and (continue) to do what I want. If people lose their jobs, businesses close, friendships fade away you no what? Shame, but so what? One thing I have learnt from the younger generation is that being selfish is a justifiable excuse. If my generation stop spending as much as we used to and the younger generation have to go without then the inner child in me will just shrug and say ….. you reap what you sow.

2021 then is the year to try and get a body more like Adonis and less like A Doris, so as nothing better to do for the first three months I am hopping back on the wagon (rather than the just the usual Dry January) and having tested out what the body is and isn’t capable of I have set up a pretty intensive training schedule, which is pretty much all I will have the energy to do! Being able to play cricket again is a huge motivator for this, but more so is a desire to settle into a simple, healthy, sustainable lifestyle. I feel I have wasted the opportunity to do this in 2020, although it has given me time to realise what I want, and what I think I am capable of.

Looking at the Social and Sporting events in the sidebar I have doubts about The Who: will such events be allowed by then? will I feel comfortable if they are? will The Who be fit enough!? They are an all time favourite band of mine since school days (the picture album of Who’s Next brought back from the States by my father is a vivid memory) and I would like to see them again, but really not the end of the world.

I don’t think we will be adding much more to the list …….

We have my parents 60th wedding anniversary this year and the caterer is booked and the family notified so as this is July there is a good chance it will go ahead.

Fathers birthday in March will, hopefully, be at NRI Blanc or a takeaway, and Mothers Birthday in April will, hopefully, be at the Golf Club.

As far as Sandra and I are concerned Wedding Anniversary, and birthdays will as usual be a meal at home.

Christmas will be the same as ever.

Which brings us to 2022 …… only kidding!

Have a happy and safe new year and let’s hope for a straight forward, boringly normal, 2021.

2 thoughts on “2021 A Year Of Emotional, Financial and Social Austerity

  1. Pingback: Dry January: 34th Year – Chris Marshall

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