OPTIMISM does not come naturally to me. So you might imagine Boris’s announcement on Saturday played right into my sceptical hands.
It felt like he threw me a giant, noxious cowpat from his field of befuddlement and I grudgingly caught it.
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It’s been a bit of a year. Every day since March we’ve been climbing the mountain of fear and confusion. As a nation we’ve trotted tentatively on the horse of hope across fields of anticipation.
Alone and isolated, we were often forced to navigate the road of despair and panic into the lane of unpredictability and unease, passing ditches of distrust and suspicion along the way.
It’s been more than a bugger of a year — and it ain’t even over yet.
Businesses have and will go bust. People have lost their incomes and their sanity and children have missed huge chunks of normality.
Rites of passages, for them, have come and gone without observation or occasion.
I confess to losing myself all too often in a bottle of Cuba’s finest rum. I lost my map and my motivation.
Slogans such as “we’re in it together” held no water — I felt we were very much apart from the start.
I felt quite alone despite being surrounded by immediate family. This enforced reunion was as reassuring as it was disheartening.
DESPONDENCY AND ANGER
Then, just when you thought you could decipher the merest glimmer of light in the dark, some influential scientist or pen-pusher comes along with complex data and p***es on your tentatively lit fireworks and you’re back at square one.
Except we’re worse off than in March, partly because we were allowed a tipple of freedom to rest on our tongues temporarily and we obediently readjusted our lives to the new norm because we were told things would get better.
Everything was made Covid-safe and now, moments before Christmas, with fridges, larders and store rooms full of food and drink, someone turns the lights off again and we are left bewildered.
Corona’s greatest achievement so far has been causing painful division between those who are terrified and seek some form of permanent lockdown and us others who believe in the Covid-secure, brave new world and that we should simply be allowed to crack on.
I believe robustly in the latter. Because, sad as it might sound, I have had Professor Chris Whitty’s words ringing in my ears since day one: “For the vast majority of people this is a mild disease.”
But we were led down the dark alley of death and fear. We found ourselves fumbling our way forward without direction or conviction.
The lack of orientation and trajectory is forcing us to float about in a world of poor mental health and hopelessness.
It is the lack of objectivity by those who should be leading that is causing so much uncertainty and division. I have found myself thrown between despondency and anger — real anger.
Anger towards those who interpret the facts incorrectly, fury at leaders who appear to change their minds more often than a hormonal teenager.
I have shown patience but I am at the end of my tether. I am concerned about the mental health of this nation. There will be those who will be in shock and will take quite some time for recovery.
LACK OF OBJECTIVITY
What I miss more than certainty and reassurance is the spontaneity of affection, being able to physically show that you care, rather than use words.
I miss putting my arm around acquaintances, touching the arms of passers-by, patting the back of a friend.
I’m a very physical person. Touch is incredibly important. It offers compassion, tenderness, stability, relief and protection.
I struggle to know what to offer others and I know how much physical contact helps me when I’m in receipt of affection.
Vaccines are here. Immunity will soon be within reach. I just hope we haven’t forgotten how to behave by the time it does arrive. And that we do not forget that the nation’s minds have been for ever altered.
Recovering our physical health has always been a priority. But our mental health is now in dire need.
Who is this? It’s Ulrika!
I WAS thrilled to be part of The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign in association with the Royal Voluntary Service.
I was given the number of a chap called Stan, who was living on his own.
In order to break the monotony of his day, and also to encourage others to take a bit of time out to check in on those who might be lonely and/or isolating, I spoke to Stan for a whole 57 minutes.
And a new friend was made. Stan was the epitome of charm but has also led a very interesting life.
Neither of us drew breath during the whole conversation.
And he earned a special place in my heart when he kicked off our chat with: “I had to Google you to find out who you were.” My kinda guy.
Govt lacks continuity
I’M a stickler for attention to detail. I am obsessed with continuity.
So while commuters can rub shoulders with each other on trains and Tubes but I have to stay two metres away from other shoppers in my supermarket, it narks me a tad.
The most ridiculous thing I’ve heard so far is that football fans at matches have been warned against “excessive singing”.
I don’t even know where to begin.
Stanley out as normal
I HAVE been a huge fan of Stanley Baxter since I can remember – since I first saw him on telly when I came over to England from Sweden.
The man is a comedic genius, a fine actor and accomplished writer and author. At the grand old age of 94, he has now come out as gay.
It has not come as a surprise to me but, moreover, a point of extreme sadness that this charming man has either felt forced to sit with his sexuality privately for so long due to social expectation or has not felt comfortable enough in his own skin to make such a pronouncement.
Stanley, who was married for nearly 50 years to a wife who understood his internal battle and let him bring men home at a time when homosexuality was still illegal, says: “I never wanted to be gay. I still don’t.”
And there’s no limit to my empathy for him. It may be generational, but for some people there is still a residual sense of shame associated with being different.
Thank God, then, that he has finally come out. And that he understands that being different is actually normal.
Congrats Bill Bailey
AT one point this autumn we weren’t even sure if there would be a Strictly this year but thanks to the Gods of Dance – and whoever it is that gives approval to these things – a full, if slightly modified, series took to the dance floor.
From the get-go, Bill Bailey was my standout favourite. Like him, I’m an oldie, a bit passé and as a general rule we tend to be “cute” to watch by those with pitying eyes and a taste for tokenism.
Observing how he develop-ed as a dancer and performer was one thing. Watching him steal the show with a self-effacing mixture of humility, calm and style was humbling. Historically, it’s usually performers with dance experience who pick up the Glitter Ball every year, so I was moved by his triumph.
It was not only well-deserved, but it proved the nation wanted the whole package – age, personality and talent. And not just someone who can cha-cha to perfection.
Dale jets my vote
FAR be it for me to encourage any flouting of the Government’s finely honed but unbelievably nonsensical Covid rules.
Unlike Rita Ora, who disregarded them by hosting a birthday party, or Kay Burley of Sky News, who “inadvertently” broke the rules on a “technicality”, I have to say Dale McLaughlan gets a thumbs-up from me.
The 28-year old made a daring 25-mile attempt to cross the Irish Sea from Scotland to see his love . . . on a jet-ski.
With utter disregard for his own safety and with only love in mind, it’s hard to imagine anything more romantic. Some- times desperate times call for desperate measures.
Here’s hoping Dale is released from prison in time for Christmas. ’Cos Crimbo behind bars does not sound too dreamy.
Can’t take any Maur
AM I living in a parallel universe to everyone else? Why is half the sleb world, including Maura Higgins, slumming it in Dubai while the rest of us are left at home picking fluff out of our belly buttons, queuing outside supermarkets in a grey, damp UK and fumbling with instruction pamphlets about tiers and circuit breakers?
Resentment levels are running seriously high in my household.
I’m just a techs maniac
THERE’S no two ways about it: Covid has brought out the sex addict in me.
If you’re told you can’t see someone because it’s not allowed, frustration levels reach new heights.
With new heights comes a rethink, a regroup and a rerouting of said frustrations.
Sex in a time of Covid is essentially over the phone, by sexting (perhaps some even have Zoom sex – not me . . . ) and it has offered some compensation.
I don’t mind saying that although there will never be a substitute for the real thing, technology sex does have its advantages.
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No need for leg waxing, shaving or keeping your undercarriage serviced. No need for the bedroom and sheets to be on point. AND you get to have the bed to yourself for the whole night.
Most gratifying of all, no need for that awkward conversation about when they’re leaving in the morning.
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