The year that was 2020

Travel Talk

Happy New Year

Whether 2020 was the last year of one decade, or the first year of another is, frankly, beside the point – though I happen to favour the first option. 

Either way, it’s a year most of us are glad to see the back of. But not all of us.  

For Colonel Sir Tom Moore, it was a wonderful year, because he was the best of the good guys. As were all those folk who ran, and cycled, and climbed, and did goodness knows what else to raise money for worthy causes. And, by doing so, demonstrated the magnificent generosity and kind-heartedness of the British people.

For every idiot who panicked and stripped the supermarket shelves, there were a dozen people ensuring that elderly neighbours got a hot meal. For every selfish clown who packed the summer beaches, or the pre-Christmas trains out of London, there were hordes of willing volunteers eager to do what they could to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities.

On that score, we came out of 2020 a darned sight better than we entered it.  

Was it the worst year of our lives? Not for me. The worst years were those of personal bereavement, such as 2007, when I spent months in a dark and bitter place, existing mainly on a diet of misery, hate, and resentment.

Was it the worst-ever Christmas? For those of us with long memories, the Christmases between 1939 and 1945 were pretty bleak – as I mentioned last month. But Christmas 2020 will stay long in the memories of children, especially those who appreciate that Father Christmas overcame the bug and delivered the presents on time.

It had its high and low points – apart from the ebb and flow of optimism that came with developments on the Covid-19 front.

One of my lows was early on, when I sought refuge from reality by watching weird YouTube channels. One was devoted to model railway layouts. A tiny camera, mounted on the engine, took you round circuits all over the world, some of which were enormous and complicated. It was hypnotic, and time-consuming – which, of course, was why I watched it.

Another time-wasting temptation was watching Tom and Jerry cartoons, one after another, for hours on end. Not that I did, mind you. But there were moments.

As the year drew to a close, I also managed to avoid getting hooked on the treacle-thick sentiment of ‘Christmas’ films – which appeared on television long before Christmas.

Visiting the USA many years ago, I came across the Hallmark TV channel, churning out one ‘feel good’ film after another – with virtually identical plots and characters. The year of Covid-19 allowed those films to gain a foothold over here.

But television and YouTube provided some unforgettable high points. National Theatre and RSC plays, for one thing – and a performance of ‘An American in Paris’ with Leanne Cope in the role of ‘Lise Dassin’.

Though she looks like she has just shed her gymslip, Leanne Cope graduated from the Royal Ballet School in 2003 and is a First Artist with that company. She moves like thistledown and is a joy to behold.

She’s from Bath which, by odd coincidence, is the home town of another dancer who brought joy to a generally miserable year. Bill Bailey went from rank amateur to win the Strictly Come Dancing prize, and boosted the sometimes fragile egos of chaps at the upper end of the generation gap.   

Sticking to the plus points of 2020, I finally got round to making and hanging new gates at the side of the house, and repainted the front door – changing its funereal black for a glowing red (to match the aforementioned gates). In the annals of DIY it may not be a great achievement, but it bucked up my summer no end.

Another plus was getting to know the neighbours. I knew quite a few of them already – the long-established ones. But newcomers became new acquaintances, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was your experience, too.

Yet another plus – well, I suppose it depends on your point of view – is that I am well past the 75,000 word mark of a memoir. I call it that because ‘autobiography’ doesn’t sit easily with me.    Intended for future generations of my family, it might see the light of day as a proper book, but I’ll make that decision when it’s finished.

I’m not one to press my political opinions on others, but must say that, for me, one high point of 2020 was the departure from the scene of Donald Trump.    

Actually, I need to be cautious here. At the time of writing he is playing golf in Florida, thinks he won the election, has fractured the Republican Party (possibly fatally), and may have to be winkled out of the White House by men in white coats.

A Dime-Store Mussolini, his idea of adult conversation is Twitter, slogans, and bombast. “Those whom the Gods wish to destroy …”

As far as 2021 is concerned, I’m making no predictions. I am due to attend a swish dinner at the Savoy in March, lecture on a cruise ship in April (I mentioned that last month, didn’t I?), and have a special lunch date with Carole in May (though I hope to be seeing her frequently between now and then).

Any or all of those plans could come to naught. Like you, I shall have to wait and see.

But I am optimistic about 2021, which could be the year we start making significant changes for the better in our lives, both personally and as a nation.

And, I hope, the year that sees us travelling around the globe again.


239 people found this helpful
19778

Share Article:

John Carter

Long-time presenter of TV’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ and BBC holiday programmes

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

From a restored mansion in the Scottish Highlands to a stylish villa in Southern Spain, becoming an HPB Bondholder allows…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.