That Was the Year that Was

In January and February 2021, it snowed, then it snowed again. If this had been a movie it would have been called Lockdown III: The Return of Tedium. I watched a lot of foreign films, took snowy walks and put time into promoting my Jeffrey Flint backlist when it was re-released by Lume. I also revised the manuscript for A Brush With Life for Lutterworth, but my diary often uses the word ‘bored’.

March came with my first jab of Astra Zeneca, and a month’s subscription to Amazon Prime in which I managed to binge-watch five seasons of The Expanse. Although it’s not due at the publisher for 18 months I started working on the second Department Z novel, and read yet more books on 1930s politics to back it up. Unable to wander very far, it was my garden that held my attention outside, until we were finally released in April and the Peak District beckoned.

With my plan to ‘write and travel the world’ being 50% scuppered it was modified to ‘…travel Yorkshire’, then ‘…travel England’ in May and June. There is so much bleak beauty up here, and so much history to discover. Hill walks, castles and waterfalls occupied my time when not working on the final draft of Blackshirt Masquerade.

The summer of freedom wasn’t really what it promised on the box. I managed two quick trips to Guernsey, hedged about by rules and tests and greeted by women in full PPE gear. Our excavation at the Roman fort in Alderney went ahead with limited ambition and dodging covid scares, but it made some intriguing finds.

September came with an air of looming dread, as we we knew that things could get bumpy as the season turned. I crammed in as many mini-adventures as time and weather allowed. The usual round of writing conventions was almost entirely scrapped, other than a reduced Old Peculiar Crime festival in July. There are friends I’ve not seen for a couple of years now, but I did get to see Genesis in their final tour; the band that provided the soundtrack to my later teens and university years.

November was the lull before…the lull. I still traveled as much as seemed sensible but we began holding our breath; quite literally sometimes. My writing stalled as I already had a lot stacked up with publishers and needed to leave time for the edits I knew must come. I also had builders in which reduces the will to live, never mind the will to write. So many friends and friends-of-friends were ill in the run up to Christmas that the seasonal sparkle was truly tarnished. We enjoyed what we could, indeed had great experiences despite the randomness of the times and the glum news. 2021 wasn’t all bad, but I can’t see many people getting nostalgic about it.

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