Last year I wrote a piece called ‘Christmas Comes Early’, when the shops were putting cards out in September. This year I’m not moaning because, let’s face it, we’ve all had a rubbish year. As a writer I’ve had a better time than most as I work from home, don’t have a business to lose and don’t have little kids running around. And I’m alive!
The subtext for 2020 has been boredom. It was the year I was going to travel the world, attend a dozen conferences, run two digs, complete two books and see another published. I did complete two books and made it to Sri Lanka and Alderney before everything ground to a halt. Occupation to Liberation was supposed to be out for May 9th but was published by summer. My biggest loss of 2020 has not been meeting friends and relations, some for over a year now. Social media and streaming can only sustain relationships so far.
My last post of 2019 was a sunset on New Year’s Eve, with the caption that ended ‘I hope 2020 will be less weird’. Spring was novel, and my blog about lockdown in the village received more hits than any on this site. Summer saw my adventures curtailed but I was able to explore the hills, coasts and waterfalls of Yorkshire. I also completed my 1930s thriller. September was taken up with a carefully calculated month in the Channel Islands which allowed me to slip through a window in Guernsey’s tightly policed cordon sanitaire. It enabled me to make good progress on the Peter le Vasseur art biography, and on my book on the Nunnery Roman Fort which I hope to complete in 2021.
For Halloween I bought a set of fairy lights and plastic pumpkins for my bay window to brighten up the street. The Crime Readers’ Association website published a series of seasonal crime short stories, including my contribution ‘Fears of a Clown’. It was inspired by last year’s Spooktacular Halloween gig by the local band Thor-Gods of Rock, in which my brother-in-law plays bass guitar. This year’s Spooktactular was cancelled due to you-know-what, but the band used the down time to create a lively Christmas single – ‘Rockdown after Lockdown’.
As November advanced, I strung up the lights and brought a second set out for my porch. Other houses, even whole streets, started to light up from the middle of the month and I even spotted a few Christmas trees. Normally I’d buy a tree to trim the first or second weekend in December, but this year I brought home a monster one I’ve christened Treebeard on November 30th. My Christmas cards shot into the post box as soon as it was decent to send them, and all my presents had been bought, wrapped, and posted in the first week of December. I’m even working my way through cheesy Christmas movies on the streaming services, tucking into the popcorn and Baileys with my ‘bubble’. In normal times, this would all be a bit too naff, but this year so many people want Christmas to come early, with as much joy and fun and sparkle as can be mustered.
That magical year of 2021 with its promise of a return to normality can’t come quickly enough, though in reality we know it is going to be tough. My resolutions start with staying safe and keeping my friends and family safe until the scientists ride in on their white chargers to rescue us all. In the cold months I’ll be shepherding my 1935 thriller and the art book to publication and writing a 1936 sequel. With luck and the aid of science the world will open up by summer for travel, digs, conferences and all that unfinished business of 2020. There are so many friendships to renew, and I can’t wait to press the reset button. A merry Christmas to you all!