Goodbye to all that? I’m not so sure

Of one thing I’m pretty certain. Every paper you pick up this morning will tell you about different ways of looking at the year that’s just rolling out. It’s the traditional thing to do. Different columnists will do it in different ways. Some will write of their hopes and ambitions, others of their fears and apprehensions. The common idea is to write about what sort of year it’s likely to be. And it’s only this week such utter speculation is considered acceptable.

Well, I’m determined to be different. I’m going to strike a contrarian note. A wistful recall of the year that’s ended.

A lot of people are hoping to get their lives back. In fact, several seem to be aching for it. Of myself, however, I’m not so sure. We’ve been parted for so long I’m doubtful we want to get back together. It’s not that I didn’t like the old life. It’s more that I’ve become a different person. The old me and I could be friends but the gap that separates us is quite large. I think we’re two different people. That, I guess, is my starting point.

In the old days I was a tactile person. My natural inclination was to embrace the men I met and kiss the cheek of most women. Handshakes came naturally to me; namaste less so. But the virus has taught me otherwise. Now I’m not sure I want to shake every hand that’s proffered or peck every cheek. Hereafter there could be many to whom namaste is bound to be my preferred greeting. And a few I might not kiss!

A bigger concern is the gregariousness of our earlier existence. There was a lot of partying that was often a waste of time. Admittedly, it didn’t feel like it – particularly after a drink or two – but with hindsight that seems undeniable. The books I’ve read or even the films and serials I’ve seen now seem more entertaining. They were certainly more enlightening. I know that sounds unsocial but I think that’s what a lot of us have become.

The truth is I’ve grown accustomed to myself. The old me didn’t like me. The new one has less reservations. Today I don’t find my company difficult to take. Or should I put it differently? The silence and loneliness of being on my own is no longer intimidating. In fact – and I know that sounds a little perverse – I’ve enjoyed it. So this morning I feel I don’t want to lose it. At least, not completely.

There are also a few lockdown habits I want to preserve. Whilst I’m happy to escape the Zoom barbershop, I would quite like to stay on in the Zoom cocktail lounge. The latter gave each of us the opportunity to slip away without seeming rude. I often did! That’s so much better than being trapped at a drinks party by someone you can’t stand. And let’s not forget home delivery. Who wants to go shopping when a mere phone call and credit card can ensure everything you want is delivered to your doorstep?

The honest truth – and you’ve probably guessed it by now – is that I’m going into 2021 with a little trepidation or, if that’s too strong a word, more than a touch of hesitation. You could say it’s like having found sanctuary in a cave, and learnt to make the best of the secluded location, the sunlight of the outside world suddenly feels dazzling. After months of wanting to get back into the old world, now that it seems it could soon be possible I’m full of doubt and questioning. In my case, ET isn’t at all sure about wanting to go home!

So what’s to be done? I don’t know but I’m sure we’ll soon find out. Till then let’s hope, one way or another, it’s a Happy New Year. And I don’t mind drinking to that on my own.

The views expressed are personal

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