Growing up, I used to love the thud of my mum’s new Littlewoods catalogue on the doorstep. As a little girl, I would quickly thumb away to the toy section, making lists and whittling down my Christmas and birthday selection months in advance. Then as I grew, I’d spend hours poring over what constituted fashions of the times: hooded tops, Joe Bloggs jeans, and apple catcher shoes, circa 1990. All the materialistic wants of any child, any age, any era…
You’ve all done it haven’t you? And not just with the ‘club book’ as it was known in our house. The Argos book was a bible for many years: the miracle of writing your catalogue order, handing it to a cashier, and receiving it in minutes! No phone call, postage, no long wait for the postie. Holiday brochures, Avon, leaflets, Sunday supplement offers, and the Kleeneze book have all played some part in all of our lives haven’t they?
Only, as we happily wrote lists, ringed our wants and saved our pennies, we could often be disappointed with the fact that when you cut your Girl’s World doll’s hair that it wouldn’t grow back. And that to make your Tiny Tears cry she needed lots of batteries and very often. It all looked so good on the telly but so shite in the real life…
A bit like 2020
With the anticipatory drum roll of a new decade…on the eve of 2020, I created a fabulous evening of Asian food, cocktails and fun shenanigans. With my nearest and dearest close by, we dressed up and partied into the new decade feeling full of promise and joy. Plans were made and excitement bubbled. Very quickly I had two weekends away booked. By the end of January I’d been out for a glorious lunch and attended a fabulous party.
‘What next?’ My family queried, whilst travelling back from a thoroughly good trip to the big smoke.
‘Let’s look at our summer holidays! Make some plans!’ It was all so exciting. I should have known it was all going too well…
Now, as we approach the last Bank Holiday of the year, and we can see the cold winter woolly nights on the horizon, I have to tell you that Spring/Summer 2020 was not what the catalogue described:
The start of a brilliant new decade full of fun, family and friends!
Why not embrace this new chapter with fresh challenges and make more memories to keep you entertained in your old age. Start new projects and find time for yourself. 2020 is to be the age of challenging the way we think.
Or was it? Did this promotional description actually hit that nail on the head?
Take the fun times with ‘friends and family’. Physically, we’ve all had times, and for some of us, ongoing times, of being disconnected with our nearest and dearest. Who wanted a hug mid April? Well, I bet we all did. Who wanted to see a new face? Hold a new conversation? It was tough wasn’t it? So crap in fact that we found new ways to communicate. Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime…we did it all, Karaoke, quizzing, parties, fitness classes, teaching, meetings, football, funerals…every event was brought to us through the power of the Internet. We had to think outside of the box. We have to learn to manage our expectations. We had to make these sacrifices for the greater good. Mostly, we had to just ‘get on with it’.
And those memories. Well there’s been plenty made, but not the ones we thought. Nothing spectacular, however the smallest things became appreciated. A meal out after weeks of cooking for the same audience. A socially distanced barbecue with new faces. And seeing my MoominTroll after weeks of waving at him through windows. Simple things. It all meant so much. And as much as we dreamt of sailing around some Greek island, we kept ourselves amused retelling those stories of holidays past. We realised we are, and continue to be lucky.
However different 2020 has been, it has paved the way for new projects. We have all seized this unprecedented pause in life to achieve ‘stuff’.
Those new projects kept us all occupied one way or another (you only have to look at the lack of flour in the supermarket to see how many bakers emerged…). Many of us became creative in a multitude of ways, and this led me to fall down the rabbit hole of Instagram on more than one occasion, when becoming inspired by various characters who were winning at lockdown,
But did you win?
I might have done all the above. I achieved much and that should mean that I should be skipping off into an autumnal sunset with a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart. After all, I’ve had that time to pursue my passions and to uncover old talents. I began to paint again. I cultivated my garden into something of colour and fragrant beauty. I wrote my first novel.
My first novel!
The love affair of creating interesting characters, believable settings, an intricate plot…I hopefully did it all. All those years of half-started novels, sketching of characters, images tucked away for a rainy day. Well, 2020 brought those rainy days in abundance – a St Swithins worth of them!
But am I skipping? Not quite. You see, just like the anticipation of a new year, achieving can open up a can of worms. With the end of one thing, comes realities of the new chapter. The elation (nothing like it) is followed by what next? (Waits patiently thinking I’ve written 85000 words of nonsensical drivel)
So, I wouldn’t say I’d won at lockdown, as when you put your all into some things, you neglect others (looks in the mirror). However, I would say that I tried to take this rare opportunity and see where it would take me. As a result, I’ve tried to ‘challenge the way I think’ and that has undoubtedly fitted the remit – whether o intended it to or not. Swings and roundabouts…
So, if we cast our minds back to that club book order: we aren’t super happy, it doesn’t look like the picture but seeing as we’ve worn it and played with it, we can’t really send it back. But, it wasn’t so terrible and we can live with it. Wouldn’t buy it again though.
And as we look at the autumn/winter edition, we find a confusing description:
Remember that we should go to work, not go up work, wear a mask, wash your hands, sneeze into your elbow, stay alert, stay apart, eat out, stay alive, save lives and most of all embrace what we have! Oh, and order that dress whilst you have somewhere to wear it, you never know, we might be back in lounge wear before you can say stay safe!