Skip to main content

That was the year that was

 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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Free School Meals Own Goal

As you're doubtless aware, HMG scored a fairly spectacular own-goal this week, with the decision not to extend free school meals (FSM) over the half-term holiday. The idea, advanced to tremendous effect by Marcus Rashford, was to ensure that no children go hungry when they're not in school. No one could argue with that, right? If we can all agree on one thing, it's that we're pretty anti-starving kids, right? And at a cost of a mere 20 million quid, which is chump change to a government which has wasted billions on Track and Trace that doesn't work, and hundreds of millions in contracts to their mates for PPE that doesn't work, it was a pretty cheap bit of good publicity. Well, as it turns out, there's a sizable element of the Tory party (and the wider populace, we'll get to them in a minute) which is pretty pro-starving kids. You may have seen the speech by Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative member for Bassetlaw, in which he spoke about not wanting

Just let us enjoy it for five minutes, yeah?

He lost! The moment that most sane humans have been fervently praying for for the last four years has finally arrived. After an interminable period of watching numbers fail to move, more "Key Race alerts than I've had hot dinners, and much marvelling at the seemingly iron constitutions of all at CNN, the news was finally confirmed. And lo there was much rejoicing across the land. You'll have your own favourite bit, no doubt, Personally for me it's a toss-up between Nigel Farage losing a ten grand bet and the hilariously shambolic, bathetic ending, where a confused Rudy Giuliani, thinking he'd booked the Four Seasons Hotel for a press conference, stood blinking in the car-park of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, between a crematorium and a shop selling dildoes.  I am not by any stretch much of a US politics nerd. I know that most UK politics fans have a slightly dorky obsession over the US process which probably stems from watching too much West Wing , but it's s

Exceptionalism

In among the various examples of David Cameron being a pillock in her hugely entertaining diaries , which caused a minor furore a few weeks back, the otherwise spectacularly un self-aware Sasha Swire made one hugely telling and perceptive point, described here in Rachel Cooke's excellent Guardian  interview  Following a Downing Street Christmas party in 2011, for instance, she notes that the closeness of Cameron’s circle is “unprecedented… a very particular, narrow tribe of Britain and their hangers-on”. It’s “enough to repulse the ordinary man" This sense of Government by chumocracy was one of the less edifying aspects of the already pretty ropy Cameron years. An idea of a few good pals lording it up at each other's houses and doing a spot of Governing when it suited them haunted the back of a fag packet policies of that intellectually threadbare period (in the book, Dave boasts of "winning a war" in Libya, conflating it with the great day he's just had on t