I just don’t want to write about COVID-19 and the misery of UK lockdown. For one thing, we’re only semi-locked down here in Bulgaria and life, at least in the village, continues pretty much as normal. So I can’t even begin to relate to the struggle back home, and I don’t want to pretend otherwise. Same goes for the dumpster fire that is American politics. The danger is, though, I could come off as a tone-deaf prick, talking about other stuff when so many people feel like all this is never going to end.
My hope is, if you’re reading this in the UK or America or anywhere worse off – in pandemic stakes or otherwise – than Bulgaria, you come here for a bit of escapism. Not to delve into my deepest thoughts on current crises and how best to deal with them. Right? Right??
Let’s turn, then, to the usual New Year topic: goals for the year. If your goal is just ‘staying sane’, I feel you. Other than toning my bingo wings, my brain just refuses to serve up any 2021 goals. Can that really be the only intention I set for this year – making my arms look marginally better?
I mean, I’d like to be more creative this year. I’d like to have another bash at a novel. (In 2019, I got as far as completing a novel and shopping it to various agents, only to get a series of polite rejections. Which made me feel more like a writer than anything!) But the hunger to write a book has – hopefully temporarily – disappeared. Honestly, all I want to do when I finish work is get out of the house and go for a walk, then binge-watch anything with Christine Baranski in it. And I don’t think there’s any shame in that.
I’d also like to go home at some point this frigging year to see my family and friends, but as that’s largely out of my hands, there’s not much point dwelling on it.
So, toned arms it is.
I’ve also been pondering what I learnt about myself over the past year, and I’d love to hear what you learnt. Here are my sparkling personal insights:
- There’s more than one type of introvert. I’ve always assumed I was a stereotypical extrovert. I’m not particularly shy. I dance like nobody’s watching. I’m comfortable exposing a version of myself right here, online. But extroverts are energised by external stimulation and being around others. And, if I’m really honest, I find social interactions exhausting. Even more so as I get older. (That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy seeing people. I do. I just feel the need to recharge afterwards.) So if 2020 has taught me one thing, it’s that my energy comes from being at home, pottering contentedly with Rob (probably the quietest human in existence) and being ignored by the cats. I’m a confident introvert, then. Which was a pretty useful thing to uncover in 2020.
- My obsessive and long-held habit of stockpiling loo roll isn’t a personality flaw after all.
- I only want to dress like Diane Keaton from now on. That’s Diane Keaton as Annie Hall or Diane Keaton as any version of Diane Keaton ever. Early in 2020 I decided the secret to streamlining my wardrobe was to choose a style icon (in this case, Diane Keaton) and only buy clothes that I could imagine her wearing. The idea was to stop me buying mad shit in Bulgaria’s second-hand clothes shops just because it’s a) mad, b) cheap or c) both. (My heavy metal kitten t-shirt being a case in point.) Liberated by this revelation, I focused my 2020 purchases on vintage blazers, shirts and lots of wide-leg trousers. Oh, and I bought a man’s waistcoat thinking it would make me look like Annie Hall. Turns out it makes me look like a waiter. But, hey, they can’t all be winners can they?
- I’m not quite as dead inside as I pretend. In fact, I cried more than ever in 2020 – and 2020 was a pretty good year for us personally, so I don’t know what that’s about. When Monty’s Don’s dog Nigel died it was like Niagara fucking Falls in our house. I even cried at the end of Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, despite muttering all the way through that it was ‘even worse than Love Actually’. And yes, I cried during Love Actually, too, thank you very much, at the bit where Emma Thompson is in the bedroom while the Joni Mitchell song plays. I don’t know if this is a hormones thing, a pandemic thing, or just a generic mellowing-with-age thing, but I don’t like it.
What very important things did you learn in 2020, either about yourself, life in general, or the people you live with? And who are you going to adopt as your style icon? You can’t have Diane Keaton, she’s mine. But may I recommend Prue Leith, Christine Baranski or Eleanor Shellstrop from The Good Place?