2020 – how was it for you?
As 2020 slowly grinds its way to a close the Arena Webteam peer out from under the edge of Tier 2 and the shadow of Lockdown 2.1 to offer you a review of 2020: from both a Minch-o-centric and a more global perspective. How many of these events do YOU remember?
January 2020: the tabloid world worked itself into a frenzy of speculation as the Sussexes announced that they were to step back from roles as senior Royals, and move to the United (surely an oxymoron) States of America: bush fires continued to rage in Australia destroying millions of hectares of land and an estimated 3 billion (yes, billion) vertebrate creatures.
Meanwhile the Minsh was quietly recovering from the sparkling excesses of the Christmas and New Year festivities. After some years of slow progress St Bartholomew's had been permitted to proceed with internal re-organisation and, fund-raising having been successful, it closed for a few months to allow the work to start.
February 2020: Church Minshull's Neighbourhood Plan was supported by 87% of voters in a referendum. Rumours that the Russians or a large ginger-haired man tweeting about massive fraud had interfered were denied.
Meanwhile internationally the first Covid death in the USA occurred. Antarctica recorded its highest ever temperature, snow fell in Baghdad for only the second time in a century and torrential rains, the worst for 30 years, helped to extinguish the Australian bush fires. Six years previously Trump had tweeted "the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive". Perhaps many of us also thought that Covid-19 was something that was just a Chinese problem?
March 2020: First UK Covid death occured on 5th March. Panic buying of "staples" such as toilet paper and pasta started. Humour fought back with suggestions that the cardboard tubes within toilet rolls were made from recycled Chinese paper products that might be carrying the virus, and that Britons should take special care with their toilet arrangements. Trump did not (yet) suggest applying disinfectants to the affected areas .....
The Minsh-Olympics took place on 14th March as 50 people packed into the Village Hall. The news got to Downing Street as a week later Boris warned that tougher measures might be introduced if people did not follow Government advice on social distancing – and the full Lockdown, version 1.1, was introduced the following day. A shop returned to Church Minshull for the first time in many years as Perry's Produce, unable to supply their normal pub and restaurant customers, started a domestic service. Clap for Carers was enthusiastically supported in the various village communities, starting Thursday March 26th, and continuing weekly until the end of May. So many pots and pans were damaged that tinkers were soon on their way ... (for those too young to remember itinerant tinkers travelled repairing said items).
April 2020: Community spirit strengthened as Minshull locals (?Mokels) joined national campaigns to manufacture clothing for NHS staff. Quizzes posted on the village website helped to while away the hours of isolation while those of us able to be out and about took advantage of reduced road traffic to explore local walks and footpaths as part of our government sanctioned ration of daily exercise. Local entrepreneur Tim, producer of insect based high protein sports nutrition and dietary supplements, kept smiling during his (pre-recorded) appearance on the BBC's "The customer is always right". In fact it all went to prove that the customer is usually wrong as the assessors clearly had no concept of the mounting crisis of global feeding and protein sources. Trust me, insects are fine to eat!
World-wide demand for oil fell so much that the price for US oil became negative – dropping to Minus $37 dollars/barrel. By the end of the month US Covid-19 deaths exceeded their military losses in the Vietnam War – 58,000. Nearer to home on 6th April Captain (later Sir) Tom Moore started walking 25 metre laps of his garden, 10 per day, with the aim of raising £1000 for the NHS. He completed his 100 lap target on the morning of his hundredth birthday, at which time he had raised over £30 million pounds
May 2020: USA had clearly gone mad – Michael Jordan's 25 year old trainers sold at auction for $560,000 in the same month that African-American George Floyd was arrested and murdered by police. Internationally Governments had woken up to the effect of global lockdowns on air pollution – with dramatic falls in nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 levels. Science alert: PM2.5 refers to particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns – one four-hundredth of a millimetre. Not, as I thought, the 5th version of the second PM in our present Conservative "Government".
Restricted traffic allowed Mokels (see April if you've already forgotten) to enjoy an edge of the street party in celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE day.
June 2020: while the Arctic Circle recorded its highest ever temperature – 100 F / 38 C in Siberia – a massive locust invasion, described as "swarmaggedon" by the Times of India, reached Delhi.
In the Minsh desperate times called for desperate measures as locals beat a path to Tim's door for locust recipes in anticipation of low-flying free food – local newshounds missed the chance of a lifetime headline – "it's just not cricket". Late in the month St Bartholomew's reopened: the removal of pews at the back of the Church had fortuitously (?) provided the space for appropriate distancing.
July 2020: in the UK Lockdown 1.1 started easing early in July, face coverings became mandatory in shops and supermarkets, Argos announced it was to stop printing its catalogue and BA retired its fleet of Jumbo Jets. Internationally news was in short supply as it was announced that the Condor can fly for 5 hours without flapping its wings, scientists had found evidence of volcanoes on Venus, and Russian strongman Vlad Put (as opposed to Shot Put which is what many of his countrymen wish for) won a referendum to allow him a longer presidential term of office.
While Madness reined across the globe it was cancelled in Minshull, officially due to the pandemic situation.
August 2020: Elon Musk retweets a conspiracy theory that the Egyptian pyramids were built by aliens. Egyptians miss the chance to suggest that he should know! Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny mysteriously falls into a coma whilst visiting Tomsk. Suggestions that KGB tourists were visiting to see the famous spire of Epiphany Cathedral we're strenuously denied.
The Minsh remained comatose ....
September 2020: St Bartholomew's annual plant sale took a different form, occurring 4 months late, and for one day only. Despite this the event was well supported by villagers and Cheshire folk alike, raising over £2,200
McKenzie Scott, philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is announced as world's richest woman, "worth" $68 billion. In the UK it is estimated there are over 18,000 "ultra-high-worth" individuals (over £10 million) and only 10% are engaged in philanthropy. The median giving to charity of these 18,000 is estimated at just £240 per year.
October 2020: a Parish Council initiative on tree planting around the village started and drop-off points for Nantwich foodbank were announced. The wettest day ever recorded in the UK, as a whole, occurred this month but fortunately we avoided the floods enjoyed this time last year.
European Covid numbers surge some weeks after the public celebrated release from lockdowns, resulting in further restrictions. The US election brouhaha gathers pace and the White House sends out a press release listing "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" as one of Trump's top accomplishments. It is later retracted!
November 2020: the USA goes to the polls, hopefully bringing an end to rule by Twit(ter). Covid-19 vaccine trials start to report with very encouraging results – causing fevered press and politicians' speculation about when and what we can do. Boris tells us "that now is not the time to take our foot off the throat of the beast". Carrie reminds him that Dominic Cummings has already left Number 10.
Minshull shuts down again, for Lockdown 2.1, but this time the Badger remains open for take-away meals. Villagers are seen sneaking round to the back door where they knock three times for supplies. Phil seems to be locked inside and is spotted doing great work with paintbrush and mop.
December 2020: its official – the UK press finally loses the plot as they generate media frenzy (again!) over whether a scotch egg is or is not a "substantial meal" in relation to whether one can have a drink in a pub, or not, or do we really care? The WebTeam is led to believe that the acronym FFS could be applied. Rather than concentrate on the major issues we seem to be sleep-walking towards a cliff led by squabbling donkeys.
Internationally we wait to see how the Great British Break Off – aka Brexit – will evolve, whether La Trump will go willingly and whether or not, in the words of the late Private Fraser "we're doomed".