In a year where there has been little travel and many health issues I am challenged where best to post and how to write this blog! For most of us it has been a year of great uncertainties and lows, with a few highs. On the whole we don’t share our lows as we maintain our oh-so-very-British stiff upper lip. So here goes – my year in review.
January was good – we managed to escape to Switzerland for some skiing and the publication of The Boy from Boskovice, albeit virtually, was nevertheless a great achievement, though I say it myself. It was a rite of passage to try and put a line under a challenging life story. I managed a few online events, webinars and even a live one at the Primrose Hill Society! However lockdown publishing is not to be be recommended…
2021 also marked the ten years’ anniversary since Louise died. It remains as painful as ever to remember her as snapshot taken up until she was 21; now all her friends are forming life partnerships and having babies. Hard not to wonder where/what she would be today. Time, as I never tire of saying, does not heal, the pain just becomes different.
But at least we got her stolen bench back…and managed a celebration in the garden with her friends and some of ours. It was one of the only good days so we were very lucky. ‘She was sunshine.’ (Thanks for the song Tim Arnold)
Another sad event was the death of my mother’s cousin Hazel who was also my surrogate mother when I was at boarding school. She rescued both of us on various occasions, and reconnecting to my cousins at her large family funeral back in beloved Branscombe brought back memories of our wedding, and the opportunity to lay flowers on mum’s grave.
Continuing with our difficult year, I notice an increasing intolerance in both public and private arenas. The global rise of the right, Brexit, Covid and lockdowns seem to have brought out the worst – and the best – in people. In our case we have chuntered on happily gardening, doing yoga (with Pickle – yes she’s still alive – just!)
going to art shows, seeing Tommy and Anna, barbecuing, cooking, and trying to contribute to society. However, in the last six months I have experienced a barrage of cancel-culture activism which has been thoroughly undermining and depressing. The result is I question the point of doing anything that is remotely involved with the outside world. Better to hunker down – get back to yoga, gardening and cooking – and selfishly let everyone get on with everything.
But…having said that I find it hard to say no. I continue to work in Louise’s memory for Transform Drug Policy Foundation; our aim is to decriminalise and regulate drugs, treating them as a health rather than criminal issue. We are seeing the cracks beginning to appear as more and more countries legalise cannabis! It’s just the start!
In mid-2022 I will hang up my hat at UWS, going out I hope with a final fabulous gala dinner under the belt; but I took up a trusteeship with Farm Africa, whose aim is to reduce poverty in eastern Africa by helping farmers grow more, sell more and sell for more, while protecting their local environment for generations to come. Returning to my African roots.
Back to the good parts of the year: I managed a girls’ outing to Aldeburgh in the summer and in November we stole a quick break in Grenada with some dear friends; great timing as it turned out. Following on from that I got the eight-year all clear – only two more years before I can be declared officially cancer-free!
And then the highlight of the year was Tommy and Anna’s engagement! That really gives us something to look forward to in 2022!
I wish you all a happy and healthy new year – from Switzerland again where we are hoping to keep healthy and to escape the worst of COVID though it seems unlikely!