Meerkat Musings reviews 2020

Yup, 2020 is nearly over, so now is the time to reflect on what’s been a transformative year for so many of us. After this year, surely, surely, the only way is up? But I’m going to resist speculating on 2021, for a number of reasons – let’s focus on this year.

Career Changes

Early in 2020 I left my job selling sofas to embark on a new journey with an old friend, returning to the realm of bathroom design with my former manager from my previous bathroom design role. It’s ironic… I took a call from my then-sofa shop manager to tell me I’d passed my two year probation (yes, two years), whilst at the pub with my boss from my office stationary job, having had an interview the day before (I think) about the bathroom job. That all happened at the tail-end of 2019, so perhaps it’s a little out of the scope of this post, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want.

Anyway, in January I embarked firstly on training – the design software happened to be the same as the one I’d used years earlier, but I needed to relearn a lot of stuff, and the sales software was completely new to me. More importantly, I would be re-tuning a different set of sales skills, merging them with the knowledge I’d picked up from two years of on-the-spot selling.

Before any actual selling could take place, there was the small matter of waiting for the local store to be… well, built is too strong a term, but the building had been gutted and completely renovated, and my colleagues and I were involved in cleaning the store whilst tripping over showroom fitters who were busy installing baths, shower enclosures etc. It was cold work, hectic work and it involved some very long days. I think I spent most of that period caked in dust, but after a few weeks it was over, the showroom had been transformed, and I could begin the role I’d signed up for. Or could I?

Covid and Crisis

Rumbles of concern about the Covid-19 virus had already started by the time we opened, but at that point a lot of people, myself included, couldn’t imagine how the disease would shape the world for the next year. The store opened and we kept an eye on the news, listening to assurances from our useless government (more on them later) and hoping this would be over swiftly.

I had personal reasons for hoping the virus would be a non-issue – a holiday booked for July, and my colleagues, along with many others, had plans. As February rumbled into March, it was becoming clear the Tories and Boris Johnson had failed to grasp the growing magnitude of what was happening, and they implemented a lengthy lockdown. It was a case of shutting the door after the horse had bolted, but that didn’t surprise me. What it did mean was a a long period furloughed for me, from March until the start of August.

To occupy myself I made some YouTube videos, I did some drawings, and I managed to achieve something that for me, felt pretty momentous. Before I dive into that, let’s see what I drew over the last year, shall we? I mean, I shouldn’t inflict this stuff on people… but I will anyway.

There’s more. Quite a bit more. Be good and I won’t share it.

Scratching the Thirty-Year Itch

I alluded to something momentous that I’d achieved, but first, let me mention something amazing that I witnessed. After dominating the 2019/20 Premier League season, Liverpool FC faced an anxious wait to see if the title race would resume, or if the season would be called off without a winner (or any one of a number of in-between measures). In the end the season restarted, and Liverpool went on to become league champions for the first time in thirty years! In a weird twist of fate, they won it earlier (in terms of games) than any side in Premier League history, and also later (in terms of date) than any side in Premier League history.

Getting Older

I think of my daughter as my little girl, when in truth she is now ten and not so little anymore. I had special plans for her 10th birthday that the pandemic ruined, though I hope we can make those same plans work next year for her. I want to enact this particular vision, because it will create wonderful memories for her, ones she will look back upon as an elderly woman and smile fondly over.

Getting older is something that’s been on my mind a lot this year. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because 2020 has held a fatalistic atmosphere, with empty streets and shops and the feeling that a potentially deadly disease is just one step away. I’ve come away from 2020 feeling acutely aware of my mortality, more so than I ever have.

Getting Published

If I were to describe a positive outcome of lockdown, it would be that I completed writing a story and then got it published. There have been changes and different directions with this story, and it’s actually in the process of being re-written, but the original version is still available. The Awakening began life in 2019 – I’d write little snippets on my phone whilst at the sofa shop – and it grew into something that I began to feel proud of. I don’t mind confessing I felt quite emotional to conclude the story, and I suspect I’ll have similar feelings when the re-write is done and this thing maybe, maybe, get’s greater attention.

It’s not exactly a well-known masterpiece, but I have fulfilled an ambition to become a published author! Go me!

Black Lives Matter

You would think that it was obvious black lives matter, yet it has taken tragedy and police brutality to press that message home more than ever before, and it still doesn’t seem to be enough. What happened to George Floyd was awful beyond measure, getting justice for Breonna Taylor has proven to be a huge struggle, and yet there are still many people who act as though racism isn’t really an issue. There does seem to be more awareness about racism, spread by determined efforts from various sources, but the pushback from the far-right is still very much there.

Take for example, the reaction to removing statues of people who profited from the slave trade. Now, I do not approve of vandalism or mob rule, but the extent to which a lot of us (and I include myself in this) do not know our own history is quite appalling. People we have revered and created monuments to are, it turns out, not the sort of characters who deserve such tributes. There are many lessons to be learned here.

There has been a major blow to the populist stance though, and it has to be considered a highlight of 2020.

Trump gets Thumped

The Tangerine Tyrant’s time is up. He lost the Presidential Election and for all the bluster, all the allegations of fraud, he will be out of the White House in January. His supporters remain vocal, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end of his particular brand of politics. Maybe, maybe, the right in America will move back to more moderate ground. Right now he’s as defiant as ever, but all he’s actually doing is to steer the GOP into a hole.

Record Breaker

When I saw Michael Schumacher achieve 91 wins and seven Formula 1 World Championships, I did not expect to see that feat equalled. Sixteen years later, a man who grew up in the same town as me has won seven world titles and, with the 2020 F1 season concluded, he has 95 wins to his name, making him the most successful F1 driver of all time.

I’ve followed Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 journey because I feel a certain kinship with him, even though I don’t know him. Our roots are superficially similar – the town centre I’d venture to is the same one he’d have known. The parks, shops, events etc, are familiar to us both. He’s gone on to do amazing things, and there’s no telling where the titles and wins will end for him. Plus, he has been at the forefront of pressing home the Black Lives Matter message, using his fame to do some good.

Take a bow Lewis

Mystery Monoliths

Well, not-so-mysterious, since artists are now taking credit for them, but it was certainly unusual, and for a time didn’t we all hope it was aliens making contact, ready to save the human race from the nightmare of 2020? Mind you, with former Israeli generals claiming there’s a Galactic Federation out there (would they seriously want humanity to join???), who knows, we might get probed contacted sooner than we think. It would be an… interesting end to the year.

What’s Next?

I said I wouldn’t speculate on 2021, but at the conclusion of this post, it feels only natural. We have a vaccine for Covid-19 and other vaccines are in development. It will still be some time before things return to normal, and the woeful way this government’s handled Brexit is going to hamper, not help, Britain’s recovery. All around the world the process of vaccinating entire nations will be a gradual one. I’m hoping the rise in armchair scientists (anti-vaxxers, I’m looking at you) will not deter people from following the science and showing common sense.

2021 will be a year of recovery and healing. It has to be.

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