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.
Can the USA be a free democratic nation or its President the leader of the free world if its commander in chief can’t even accept he lost an election? He still boasts on Twitter to his adoring fans and voters that he won and they cheated. He does this without producing a shred of evidence for his unstable view points.
It was the right that won it – that’s what Donald Trump would have you believe anyhow. Sometimes there seems nothing worse in life or politics than a sore loser. Well it turns out there is something worse in a democratic state than a sore loser and that’s an American President that after defeat in an election is still convinced he has won. The amount of people that do not condemn his delusional bubble is just shameful and says a lot about American politics and where it is currently at or has come to.
You know something is broken in the world or in a country when good people vote for bad men and let’s be clear Trump is a very bad man, in deeds as well as words. The US President’s actions have exacerbated the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States, rolled back environmental and public-health regulations and undermined science and scientific institutions. Just because a President sees a quick buck in relaxing laws designed to protect you and your fellow citizens which then might result in more short term profits for big business you should in no way be fooled into thinking that those stock and shares profits are for your benefit.
Over the past eight months, the president of the United States has lied about the dangers posed by the coronavirus and undermined efforts to contain it; he even admitted in an interview to purposefully misrepresenting the viral threat early in the pandemic. Trump has belittled masks and social-distancing requirements while encouraging people to protest against lockdown rules aimed at stopping disease transmission. His administration has undermined, suppressed and censored government scientists working to study the virus and reduce its harm.
When Trump became ill with Covid-19 he had no problems with injecting himself with the most up to date cures known to man. He went on to inject himself with using cells derived from an abortion. There are many in the states that think he is some kind of saviour of the Christian right and king of conception laws, upholder of anti-abortion rights. Stopping people having medical care (of any type come life saving treatment for babies or restrictions on abortion rights for pregnant women). All of his medical policies are not in any way enacting some kind of greater wisdom or strongly held principled view they are purely cost cutting exercises lapped up by republicans as moral decisions.
I really struggle to wonder what the right hand side of the American electorate really want out of a leader. Say for example all abortions were banned overnight or all immigrants no longer aloud to step one foot in your land. What would the medical, societal and legal consequences be. Would women be locked up for wanting abortions or would thousands of children be placed in orphanages or even sold to the highest bidder. What kind of future would these families or lack of family units have, how does that make it in any way morally the right thing to do?
“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.
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.
Trump gives his supporters liberty while Covid-19 gives them death! If you are still alive after this butchers little escapade please don’t vote him back into office (I’m refering to Trump of course as Death has yet to stand as the President of the USA!)
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, denial was the default response from the political right. Donald Trump derided it as a “hoax”. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro scorned the “hysteria” over a “little flu”. In Italy, Matteo Salvini urged people to go on holiday, in defiance of social distancing advice from the World Health Organisation.
The denial has often been tacit. While coronavirus spread across India, Narendra Modi was silent for weeks. The British government argued that the risk of the virus to the UK was “low”, and declined to prepare for lockdown or to implement a full programme of testing, tracing and isolation.
Most governments now reject Covid-19 denialism. Nonetheless, it has inspired far-right groups, and sparked protests against lockdowns, from Michigan to Melbourne.
Why was denialism the reflex of the nationalist right? It makes commercial sense for the Koch family – billionaire libertarians threatened by a more regulated capitalism – to be against the suspension of economic life. But it is not the obvious position for authoritarian, anti-immigrant nationalists to take. The pandemic demands unprecedented restrictions, border controls and surveillance. It offers popularity to any government that takes control of the situation.
Indeed, before the pandemic, nationalists thrived on a fantasy of catastrophe: “white genocide”, immigration “invasion”, “communist” takeover. But faced with a real disaster, they have stumbled.
This is not for want of human enemies to scapegoat. Epidemics are fecund ground for conspiracism. In the Middle Ages, disease was blamed on Jews. In the 19th century, it was blamed on elites. In early American outbreaks of Spanish flu in 1918, rumours blamed it on a German plot. Today, it is Chinese people.
But far from cohering against a new enemy, the hard right is incoherent. Trump swerves between disinformation and exhortations to “liberate” states under lockdown. Boris Johnson urges people to return to work – without explaining how this can be done safely – all the while enforcing lockdown and continuing furlough schemes. Even Bolsonaro is sounding more petulant than defiant. Challenged by the media about Brazil’s soaring death rates, he huffs: “So what? What do you want me to do?”
This incoherence is only partly hidden by Covid-19 jingoism – the invocation of warlike nationalism to fight the pandemic.
Denial is often a form of affirmation. Alongside those who belittle the seriousness of the pandemic are those who admit it’s serious, but suggest that we die for the economy anyway. As Bolsonaro put it, “I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life. You can’t stop a car factory because of traffic deaths.”
There have been subtler versions of this argument. Johnson never asked us to die for capitalism. But his government did urge the nation to “take [Covid-19] on the chin” while the medical evidence suggested that such insouciance could kill 500,000 people. The government initially refused to shut schools, citing the claim that a four-week closure would cut 3 per cent off GDP growth.
As Bolsonaro’s example suggests, governments routinely trade off lives for economic growth. Why stop now? This contemporary denialism is ideologically similar to the social Darwinism and class contempt that, as the historian Richard J Evans shows in Death in Hamburg, led to 10,000 deaths in 19th-century Hamburg from an outbreak of cholera.
But the desire to end the lockdown for economic reasons does not explain another significant right-wing trend. This is the emergence of the so-called “Branch Covidians” – those cultish figures on the American right risking death for “liberty” – who are protesting lockdowns.
There is a tendency to dismiss anti-lockdown gatherings as campaigns entirely bought and procured by rich businessmen. In the US, this idea has some truth. Denialists, 5G conspiracists, Trump fan-clubs, evangelicals and militias have enjoyed the financial backing of the American Legislative Exchange Council and even elements of the Trump White House.
In some respects, this anti-lockdown coalition resembles the ultra-conservative, anti-establishment Tea Party movement, which also received lobby money. The slogans, equating social distancing with communism, recall the paranoid vigilantism of that earlier movement. The threats to journalists, and calls to “hang” Anthony Fauci (head of the US’s coronavirus task force) recall its violent rhetoric.
However, the lockdown protesters are acting out of their own convictions. As the Harvard-based sociologist Theda Skocpol has argued, the nationalist far right is a grassroots affair. When rich patrons offer financial support, their role is to mobilise existing networks of activists.
But the concerns of lockdown protesters are not the same as their sponsors. They care less about the economy, as the New York Times delicately put it, than about “ideology”: a polite term for the toxic stew of racism and conspiracism underpinning the movement.
The desire to end lockdowns and restart economies has brought the far right and neoliberals together. This intellectual and political alliance is based on a deep suspicion of “society”; or what the political theorist Wendy Brown calls “sociophobia”. It is why, according to the anti-lockdown slogan, “social distancing = communism”, because social distancing represents a form of social solidarity.
The coalition of Covid-19 denial remains limited. Most nationalist voters support lockdown. But that could change. Test results suggest that only a small number of people around the world have been infected by coronavirus. That means more waves of infection are likely, and therefore further lockdowns. Every month of lockdown cuts growth, adds to unemployment and risks industrial scarring.
Many people are struggling, with little support. On the nationalist right, some of the ingredients are already there for back-to-work denialism. Unless a new economic model is found, the risk is that life under the pandemic will supply the rest.
Richard Seymour is a writer, broadcaster and activist. His latest book is The Twittering Machine (Indigo Press)
Subscribe To stay on top of global affairs and enjoy even more international coverage subscribe for just £1 per month!
I don’t know about you but nothing feels normal about this year and it is just a little bat sh*t crazy. It seems on the news that one problem was kind of sorted and a new thing would pop straight up in its place a little bit like the arcade game below.
I’m really struggling to write down the thoughts in my head at the moment. So many thoughts but afraid to say them out loud. We very much are living through a time which history will remember for good or ill. The story that is unfolding for the planet, humanity our economy and our present, past and future has so many sides to be viewed from its octagonal!
Capitalist economic way of life on hold, stock markets smashed and crashed, local small businesses could be about to shut up shop and make their staff unemployed for months. People becoming afraid for themselves their families, the streets are quieter with less people on them and talking and walking, people are afraid to embrace each other.
The necessity of a resilient and well funded social structure and health service is becoming clear for all to see. Social investments are being made and social policies are being adopted across the world to help turn the tide against Coronavirus, no one’s calling these measures socialism but that’s exactly what it looks like to me. Lives are being lost, slowly so far but not clear yet as to the long term outlook. I kind of wonder who do I know who I might lose?
I got offered a new job this week so going through the process of getting references and stuff sorted for that. A little concerned about if I hand in my notice at my old job and then can’t start the new job due to lock down and being at home where do I stand with being able to pay my rent and affording to eat. The job will still be there it’s not going anywhere it’s just a question of whether I am aloud to start to work in it, due to work restrictions.
I believe that this outbreak is a natural phenomenon and is a delicately dark and yet simple and effective way for mother nature to flex her muscle to show us all in a very short space of time just how fragile our way of life is and how easy the rug can be pulled from under our feet and is forcing everybody to stop and reflect.