Probably a bit late for one of those Year-in-Review bits that have been clogging everything up over the last couple of weeks, but I move very much to my own rhythms here at at Coastalblog Towers, plus I've been too busy eating cheese the last couple of weeks, and so now, as we emerge blinking into the dazzling frosy light of 2021, I suppose I'd better do something to rectify that.
The problem is that there's very little left that's original to say about what was, by any standards, a pretty extraordinary year, and also, if it's relevant to me, I've probably already said it, as the hitherto unimaginable amounts of down-time afforded to me meant I actually did keep up with things, for once. There were no fewer than 41 Coastalblogs in 2020, still a fairly paltry effort, but more than I managed in 2010-2015 combined.
Looking back through them, I'm struck by a few things. Unsurprisingly, I've spent quite a lot of the year angry at the Government. I still am. Even accounting for the unprecedented nature of events doesn't excuse their chaotic mismanagement, and seeming inability to plan more than a day or so in advance. At the start of the year experts predicted a second wave in Autumn, but they acted as if it was all over in July, because this is an essentially unserious group of people who don't like telling people hard truths, preferring to deal in platitudes and plastic jingoism. This has been catastrophic, as they have lurched from fiasco to clusterfuck, lacking the intellectual firepower to get ahead of the situation. And nothing would excuse the huge waste of public money that their corrupt doling out of contracts to friends and friends-of-friends has entailed. When faced with a huge problem, their first instinct was to make their friends rich, and that is unforgivable.
But, if you're even a semi-regular reader, you'll have a fairly clear idea of where I stand on those bastards, so there's not a lot of point dwelling on it. Suffice to say, this year would have tested far more competent administrations than they, but from here it does look like they've done a uniquely bad job. The non-sacking of Cummings was a huge two fingers to the public, and was the moment everything started to seriously unravel. Given that he was binned off a few months later anyway, it was also a startlingly bad bit of politics.*
But enough of them, I'll have plenty of time to have a go at this lot as the year plays out. Counter-productively, for me, as those pieces are generally less read than the non-politics ones (with a couple of exceptions), but enough of you stick around to realise it's not politics all the time.
And with more time on my hands, I covered a few more topics this year than I normally would, even allowing my work life to seep into my writing one, which isn't something that happens a lot. Doing my bit over lockdown, I wrote a couple of pieces where my work life bled into my writing life, and I let you in on a few chef shortcuts, secrets and bits of advice. This went down fairly well, I should probably do that sort of thing more often. Possibly as the year progresses, I will, who knows? Everything being as strange as it has been seems to take the mind down the strangest paths, I could just as easily start blogging about Duolingo, or the birds in the garden, or, now the joys of solo home-schooling. It's an exciting world of possibility, or possibly an incoherent smear of half-formed ideas. 2021 everyone!**
I'm always surprised by which posts do well, which is pleasing. I write stuff, some if it gets read widely, and some doesn't, and I have very little way of knowing, before I press publish, of which ones are going to do well. For example, the runaway winners of this year concerned A Julian Barnes book, with digressions about the film version of Cats and The cultural meaning of Full English breakfasts. I can never tell with you lot. Though it was perhaps less surprising that, in a year where we all needed a little cheering up, a post from 2019 entitled Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 2) kept chugging along to be this blog's all-time most read post, it's still picking up a few reads a week now (the part 1, amusingly enough, has less than half its total - the quirks of the algorithms***).
All of which goes to show - nothing, really. I'm still here, and I'm still going to keep popping the odd blog up every now and again, Coastalblog turns 18 this year, and even though I have some spectacular longueurs, the thought of not tapping away at least every couple of weeks or so seems, somehow, alien. So I'll keep pottering, and, presumably, some of you will occasionally read it. Forgive the cop-out ending, I've got to dash off and do a bit of home-schooling now. So we'll just have to see what happens next, won't we?
* This part was written on the weekend, before everyone got sent to school for a single day. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions how I feel about that
** No Matt, that's most years, stop blaming your slapdash antics on the calendar.
***Yes yes yes, I know algorithms by their very nature don't have quirks, don't @ me