It was the worst of times but we have seen the best of many people. A time like we have never known or wish to know again – but how can we ever learn any lessons from times like this and if we do learn what will those lessons be?
I wonder what will be written about how 2020 unfolded when people look back. Although there are lots of ways and reasons to see the bleak black clouds of heartfelt hurt and disappointments I wonder what will be the silver lining of goodness or positivity that might come through this. A little like a blanket of snow drop flowering across a woodland floor bringing in with them the signs of a new season and rejuvination of life after a bitter and harsh winter.
Sometimes how we view and react to a life event shapes how or even if we can move forward from the event. Although at other times it might be the very events themselves that force us to be re-shaped and review our view of the world or how we see ourselves within it. Coronavirus is very much an event that people have had to react to and or been reshaped by.
So do we thank or blame god?
Curse or give credit to a politician in power?
Or will we be grateful for what we have or curse for what we do not have?
Well in time we will hopefully have an opportunity to find out, reflect and move forward.
Today was my last day in work until Christmas. I now have one week off until I log into my work computer again to do some work and even better than that I managed to get all the work that I hoped to do today done. Presents bought and wrapped, Christmas songs playing on Spotify. Though this Christmas is in no way normal for pretty much everyone.
In a normal year in the week building up to Christmas day I would be out on a Wednesday night like tonight listening to music in a bar exchanging cards, gifts and stories with friends whilst getting merry with a Christmas Guinness or two.
I’m afraid I am not a household drinker of alcohol so lockdown drinking does not really happen for me. I still have four cans of Guinness being kept cool in my fridge that I was given from my workplace for leaving my old job back in July. There is something lovely about a social pint in a bar with friends, family or strangers just does not do when drinking at home on my own. Therefore I just don’t drink alcohol at home alone.
They say people forget what they do when they drink (too much). But for me some of my most cherished memories are from times when I was having a drink with strangers, family or friends.
Back to Christmas!
In a normal year my bags would be packed now and I would be on the first train out of Exeter to visit my mum to stay with her for Christmas. I even booked the day off work Christmas eve to travel to Cornwall. But we all took the decision not to meet up for Christmas this year and have a catcup around Easter 2021 instead or after Mum has had a vaccination against Covid-19 first and is in a better position to be protected against the virus. After such a difficult time the one thing I did not want to give to either of my parents for Christmas is the risk of bringing Covid-19 to either of my parents, so better to be safe than sorry.
Instead I will be spending Christmas with a friend who also would have been spending it alone in Exeter this year due to his circumstances too, so our social bubble is legal and legit for a Christmas day meal together. He is vegetarian so nearly all of the food I am cooking is vegetarian, all bought and ready to cook. I am really looking forward to it. I even have some Guinness flavoured coffee to get me going on Christmas morning.
So here it is Merry Christmas from Exeter in the UK its just gone 12 midnight and it is now officially Christmas Eve 2020 here. I look to the future now, its only just begun. I hope you do to.
Well I tried to do a survey on my last post and so far only three people have responded so this time I would be answering the questions myself a sort of summary of 2020 and see how this goes.
Question 1. Hardest thing I had to do this year.
Making sure I did not have a complete meltdown and go backwards in life after having a severe mental health blip at the beginning of the year. Some time back in March I went to A&E with huge concerns for my mental health I think it was a few weeks before the first lock down started. The thing was I had a chest infection and bad cold/flue or covid-19 thing at the beginning of 2020 and it stole from me my ability to sleep properly at night and I kind of slipped into a non sleeping, spaced out and obsessed with Covid-19 taking hold around the world mess.
I had enough insight to realise that I was unwell, which is why I went to the hospital. I managed to have a good talk to the on duty mental health team there and got a lot off my chest about how to move things forward. After four days off work gathering my thoughts and learning how to sleep again I was able to carry on working and kept ticking over until I had recovered from my mental mess more thoroughly.
Questions 2. Greatest achievement of 2020?
Also back in March I went for a job interview for the council working in environmental health and amazingly got offered and accepted the job. The job did not start until July 13th. This was because I needed to be trained up in office in order to learn how to do the job so was only aloud to start after the first lockdown had finished.
Question 3. Best purchase of 2020?
I went and bought a tree, not just any tree mind you but a book published in 1770 that had a print of Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil (from Old Norse Yggdrasill) is an immense mythical tree that plays a central role in Norse cosmology, where it connects the Nine Worlds.
I did a little research on the print and found out I could by the origianl book with the print in it would cost me less than buying a copy of the print to hang up on my wall straight from a retailer. So I got the book, scanned the image into my computer, then uploaded the scan onto a website that turns scans and photos into pictures to go an walls on canvases and had the picture produced onto a canvas frame and posted to me to go on my wall in my lounge above where I now work for the council when I work at home.
At the time you could buy this image on eBay as a print for about £60 but the way that I produced it meant I had the original book that the print came from along with the framed print for half the price. A good deal in deed.
Speaking of Trees and life – The tallest tree in Wales had been damaged by a storm and was supposed to be cut down, but a better solution was found. Natural Resource Wales, which was in charge of the site, ordered artist O ‘ Rourke to cut down the tree. He cameup with the concept of carving what the tree stump and trunk into a giant hand – to symbolise the tree’s last attempt to reach the sky. Once completed, the sculpture was coated with tung oil, a natural vegetable oil safe for the closeness of the riverways.
Question 4. Silliest purchase(s) of 2020?
I bought a box load of DVD’s to sell on eBay to raise money for local Exeter charities. At the time their shops were all in lockdown so I thought I would raise some money for them by having online auctions for them on eBay. What could go wrong, well quite a lot actually? I still have boxes of stuff here ready to give away to charity shops as struggled to sell on eBay.
Question 5. Silliest/riskiest thing I did during a lockdown?
I am not a real risk taker most of the time but it’s those times when I do take risks I think later on “what the hell were you thinking” “just don’t bloody do it again”. Well one of those times after the first lockdown had taken place was joining in a drink game with a bunch of people I did not know in a pub that I very much know and enjoy. It only happened once but the next day I was cursing myself with thoughts of “what the hell were you thinking” “just don’t bloody do it again!!”
Question 6. What did I like about this year?
I love nature but I really managed to rediscover nature on my doorstep. When walking the street in spring and early summer at 6am to head to a shop to get a paper and some milk or other supplies, I found that such a magical time to be alive on a clear day the birds sing like they are giving you a personal performance and I even got a bird table to feed the many starlings, fat pigeons and little sparrows that would hop onto my bird table.
Food for thought
This year has been and continues to be a revolutionary year and for good or ill the revolution continues to go on day by day. Some will win some have lost, some will survive some will not. A lot will live and many will die. Good things have happened and better may come still.
The fact that I am still here and you the reader are still here is a huge plus for me to.
Happy Christmas to you and yours and best of luck for whatever 2021 throws in your direction.
With over 70 million people in the USA believing in and voting for Trump while the rest of the world looked to Biden with both hope of a new road and feared for another 4 years of Trump this is perhaps a time to not only be looking at what decided the election result but why people vote the way they do.
With that in mind I would like to try and conduct a little international political survey asking people what matters to you when you vote. I am genuinely interested in what makes people tick and what issues are high up on your agenda?
But some would have you think that some voters are more important than others!
I live in a society that started a new lockdown on Thursday 5th November 2020, the UK is a democratic nation with a Conservative government and although I don’t support all the policies of my government I am grateful for this lockdown. It will save lives maybe even my own and the lives of my friends and family. Then when the economic tsunami that will also hit our country comes I will hope it will be worth every penny spent to save lives. You can’t rebuild a nation with the bones of your dead, only with the strength and will of those who live through these times will we be able to do that.
Trump has and will continue to do very little in the USA to save, listen to or even now count for or allow to be counted the votes of his fellow American citizens. Trump acts like a child having a tantrum in a china shop that happens to have found and unpinned a hand grenade. I don’t know how long lived his damage will be to the nation of the USA.
‘If you count the legal votes I easily win claims Trump’, this is wrong and an incendiary statement; he’s a PR man of spin and certainly no political statesman of substance. If Trump losses and it looks like the writing is on the ballet wall for him then I will thank god and will also thank the US population that voted for Biden. Trump politically spins circumstances and lies about what he does, he does not have the depth or political know how to shape political circumstances or to unite people.
Trump is a man to slander and stop the other guy or opponent he is not a man of conviction or depth of his own views or others. Apart from dismantling and damaging institutions, laws and rights I really can’t tell you and nether can anyone else what he has built for the USA. Apart from a wall built by and paid for by the Mexicans and even that is a half assed blunder.
I am governed by a conservative government because they won the election and I respect that. If you can’t respect a democratic process then I feel a little sorry for you and the damage that view could do to your country.
Andy Edwards – Paranormal Investigator, Father, Brother, Friend and Son.
It will soon be Halloween then November and then 1 month from today on November 29th my brothers birthday. Andy loved this time of year when he would do ghost tours down a mine in Cornwall as well as paranormal investigations in old buildings across the county.
He took me on a guided tour one year where we walked around a mine possibly Poldark Mine and then after closing time off to an old pub in Helston for a further taste of paranormal investigating. This really was his passion and on the night that I went out with him a lot of fun for me too. I am sure his enthusiasm for the supernatural and his ability to seek out friends and fellow supernatural enthusiasts did very much help get him through some very dark times in his life and for want of a better description help keep him sane, in a crazy world.
As mentioned already in other posts he was a medium with the gift of being able to talk to the dead and a paranormal investigator intent on proving to us mere mortals the existence of life after death and the supernatural realm.
I don’t share his gifts for the detection of the supernatural nor would I want to. Those gifts that he had would really scare the bejesus out of me, if I could do what he did. I have often believed though that the spirits of the dead can if they choose to visit us in dreams and Andy has been visiting me a lot recently. Mostly just to see what the hell I am up to or dreaming about. Not to pass judgement or haunt me but just sometimes even to play as brothers so often do. And as the seasons turn and the years add up it sometimes feels as if every year I grow older and the bugger that is my big bro gets younger.
This year has reinforced more so than ever a hope and belief in the power of a good God to triumph and succeed where us mere mortals would fail. I would like to think I am more at peace with my belief in and hope for the almighty than I have been in many years. Just because I don’t understand what Gods divine plan, hope and dream is for us little hummies that is not to say that God does not have hope’s, dream’s and plans for us as individuals or as a species or planet.
As for God’s plans for my brother or even my brothers plans for himself I feel this year more so than in others how much good he could have contributed and achieved so much had he still been here. So on the one hand I find comfort in God and in the other there is discomfort and remorse for no longer having Andy in this plane of existence.
“Utopian” describes a society that’s conceived to be perfect. Dystopian is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanizing and as unpleasant as possible.
I got in my head this week the concept of us living in an age that is the prequel to a film called Logan’s Run made in the 1960’s about a utopian society for young adolescents where no one over the age of 21 exists and those left just have fun. It made me think about where society is at present and where we could be heading to without world beating cure for Covid-19.
It’s all well and good for Trump to be injecting himself with regeneron antibody drug that have been developed with cells derived from an aborted fetus but as for the rest of the world, we will just have to wait in line to see if the global pandemic can come up with a global cure and solution.
Exeter’s student population has rocketed with covid-19 since the new term started, the uni in exeter is in the top 10 places in England with diagnosed rates of covid-19, partly due to mixing, meeting and greating of students. Partly due to how little it impacts on the youth and partly because when people go to university they expect to have fun and mix and how uncool must those that are trying to follow the rules look to those that that don’t give a damn.
Also you kind of wonder with those that don’t care or give a damn about whether they do or don’t spread covid-19 are saying a huge F-You to the world that they are looking to inherit and the people they meet within it. Admittedly many students are trying to social distance themselves and play by whatever rules the government has announced this week.
But for those that choose to disobey the rules while intoxicated well it just goes to show, people loose there inhibitions when they get drunk and Covid-19 loves the loosing of them there inhibitions.
Well as I write this I am still very grateful that I am still here and have not caught Covid-19, or any other major health issue from the hurt locker yet! And as you read this I hope you are well too.
Not left Devon since December 2019 and even when I do make it away I take the ever so little leap to the county next door to visit my mum for her birthday. We make it out to a Farm called Travaskis that serve amazing food which I have not been to before where we treat ourselves to a lovely meal.
There was going to be a new Covid-19 announcement made by Boris when I was in Cornwall and so was not 100% sure how long I would be allowed to stay and wanted to get back to Exeter to have a little break on my own and also catch up with some people and places in Exeter too.
I also had my annual GP appointment where the doctor tells me how much weight I have gained and also whether I have been diagnosed with Diabetes yet. They are doing no diabetes tests this year though and luckily I have only gained about 2 kg so considering all the cakes I have eaten during lock down it’s not too bad. I think the walk to the cake shops helped a little. I also went to Specsavers and picked up my first pair of reading glasses since I was about 5 years old. I had some glasses when I was a child to correct my sight and managed to avoid having another set up until now.
So they have now announced that they are going to shut all pubs at 10pm each night. I must admit some of my favourite joys this year have been catching up with people in some of the local pubs in Exeter although I miss my friends that I used to drink with pre lockdown at the Angel Bar.
Well where to start. Like all cities, towns and places people call home Exeter, Devon in the UK, has taken a bit of a beating this year. Shops shut, people staying at home and all that Jazz. As for me on the other hand I’m now working in the city again that I love to call home, at the heart of the city council in for want of a better word a pandemic planning room.
I work now for the environmental health team answering phone calls and emails for the team directing them to where they need to go to or sometimes I am even able to answer the questions myself.
Business is booming in the office lots of environmentally unhealthy things to deal with, listen to, act on and treat. Though I don’t really want to or cannot go into too much detail because the calls we take emails we get and things we act upon are all really related to people’s lives and are personal to them and strictly confidential!
So during this pandemic when most people are stopping going into the city, I on the other hand turn about face and do the opposite. I sometimes catch a bus to the city centre, sometimes walk (less than I should), sometimes stop in a bar for a beer on the way home (possibly more than I should under a pandemic year but less than I would in a normal year).
I go out to a bar about twice a week and this feels too much like I am taking my life in my own hands with regard to the potential picking up of Covid-19. I am very overweight have a borderline diabeties diagnosis and am nearly mid 40’s so I am not exactly in the young and just passing it on bracket of the pandemic population.
Though I do think that if I get used to not socialising I might permanently not go out. I instead continue to go out and love doing so more for company really than Guinness. I don’t drink at home and still love to meet people and watch punters when sitting in a local bar. My social lockdown beer drinking acquaintances have been one of the joys of this year.
My original group of socialising friends that I used to drink with in a local pub has really gone tits up though. Some are social isolating, some have had mini meltdowns, and others like me are just getting on and making the most of it. Our little group were like ten pin bowls knocked down very quickly by the bowling ball that is Covid-19.
My favourite drinking den and social outlet is still in lockdown as are some of my favourite people. It feels like we might be just about 9 months away still from returning to what I would love to call normal.
A normal Wednesday night for me was when the biggest dilemma might be heading back from the bar after having bought another pint of Guinness, while listening to some tunes from a local musician playing a guitar and waiting to find out whether I had the luxury of sitting in a seat or had to face the slightly more uncomfortable situation of stand up in the outside smoking area. Now I have not had a cigarette for what must be nearly 10 years now and have not missed those pesky nicotine sticks either, but it’s still socially preferential to stand or sit out with the smokers because that’s where all the cool cats hang out in the local pub.
What was once normal I now crave like a nicotine junkie waiting for his next inhalation of a smoke!
So week three into the new job it’s going well lots to learn and lots I still don’t know. I work mostly on the phones and then try to book in what the callers need or take the callers’ information down so that another member of staff can sought out their question for them. A part of me is thinking I am mad to start a new job during covid-19 lockdown wackiness and another part of me knows I would have been even crazier not to.
Back in March I was only sleeping about 2-3 hours a night and I was absolutely wired into finding out all the latest shenanigans in the news, in my head and about life in general were. Working at home at the time was the perfect time to kind of have a blow out and over do things a tad mentally. Now on the other side of that I’m on full battery recharge mode with most evenings and weekends I am snoozing at any given opportunity whilst attempting to top up lost sleep vouchers.
One of the rare gifts of this pandemic has been having the chance to reach out or have people reach out to me from past and present, new and old friends and that has been some of my favourite times.
For those that reached out to me I am very grateful and I hope to those that I have reached out to that they appreciated it too.
Tonight I had a real need to reach out so been phoning some friends and family seeing how they are. Most are doing ok in a lockdown kind of way. But still 9 months or more of this, well thats a might long time in any stretch of the imagination.
The UK Government has a quirky way to not dealing with a pandemic, first telling us to go home and trust the government while bucket loads of UK citizens die and now telling us to come out and spend, spend, spend so we continue to pay for the economy crawling forward on its belly prior to part two of this little smeg show continuing to unfold.
Well I hope you are well wherever you are reading this from and your God or Gods are smiling down on you. I hope we make it to the other side.