There is a phrase, originally coined in French by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (I had to look it up) which loosely translates as ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’. I think it’s a phrase which sums this year up nicely.
2020 has been a year of many changes. Different rules. Different emotions. Differing values. All have combined in an ever changing landscape which leaves this onlooker dizzy. It’s also been a year of frustrations. Stagnation. Opportunities to go out, explore, and socialise a rare and valuable commodity.
Yes, 2020 has been a strange dichotomy of a year. Thankfully, it seems to be crawling to a close.
Sign Of The Times
To be honest, it’s been a little hard to tell.
Of late, the days seem to bleed into one another. The punctuation points of a week, or a month, have disappeared. Thursday night is no longer Slimming World night (as my waistline will attest). Sundays no longer mean getting up and driving my wife, Tina, to church before heading home to do something I find a little more interesting (shooting aliens 1-hymns and prayers 0).
A sameyness has crept in to life, which makes the marking of time all that more difficult. Thankfully, the turn of the seasons has provided me with a signpost. A monumental moment in a sea of bland repetition. Something to stand out. Something to set your calendar by.
This week I put the heating on.
Now, this may not seem to be an occasion worth the fanfare. To fully understand its import you have to understand I’m a Yorkshireman with all that stereotypically entails.
We of the White Rose County are famed for many things, including a certain carefulness with money. It is, of course, a stereotype up there with flat caps (never wore one), pints of bitter (alright, yeah, I used to drink the odd one), and Whippets (don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the flesh).
On the whole, I think it’s a reputation that is undeserved. ‘Neither a lender nor a borrower be’ is certainly not true in my case. I don’t mind a treat now and then. I like a takeout. I don’t mind buying presents (well, I don’t mind paying for them. Shopping for people is a different matter). I’ve even got the odd round in, which is more than some do (Drac, mate, I’m looking at you). Wasting money though, well that’s different again.
I’ve never seen the point of paying over the odds for a brand-name for instance. I don’t want the latest phone, designer jeans, or a personalised numberplate on my car. I like to look for the cheapest deals on insurance and household bills, and I watch the smart meter with ghoulish interest (or at least I did when we first got it).
I will switch a light off should no-one be in the room. I will not leave taps running. The heating? Well, it will be a cold day in hell (or at least in our front room) before that goes on.
Out From The Cold
So, taking all of that into consideration, I’m sure you can understand why Monday of this week was something of a watershed. A date to put in the diary. Without being prompted, asked, or cajoled, I put the heating on (gasp!). It’s the thin edge of the wedge. The start of money literally going up in smoke as winter begins its relentless, insidious invasion. I will, in time, make my peace with it, hopefully before one or both of us freeze to death. Until then, we have bought provisions to mitigate jack Frost and his minions. I’ve got two new jumpers; Tina, some fluffy pyjamas, slipper socks, and a hot water bottle. It’s a small initial expense, but it puts off the inevitable for that little bit longer.
Thankfully, even in the cold north, winter doesn’t last forever. By mid-June at the latest, we can put the thermals away and maybe even give some considerations to cracking a window. Times will change once more. Winter will pass. Life will resume. Who knows, next Summer could bring long days sipping drinks in the park. Barbecues. Beer gardens. a day at the coast. All could be a welcome reality once more. The days may be drawing in, but the sun will have its day and Covid won’t be around forever to keep us in the cold.
This too shall pass.
Until next time…