If I can just get this published before midnight, I’ll have logged in the first day of 2021 50% of what I managed to publish in the whole of 2020. I still don’t really understand last year and on the whole think that perhaps I was more adversely affected by Covid-19 than I realised. Still, my main objective last year – NOT catching the disease – must continue to be my priority in this new year. In one sense, that is not too difficult a task provided I can live on my own in my own house; whole days go by without me meeting, speaking to or even seeing another person. But I do have to venture out occasionally, mainly for food but also for medical reasons, and once a week nowadays, to check out the NT sheep. At the moment, for example, I am scheduled to go up to London for my second anti-covid jab next Tuesday but, as the year begins with uncertainty just like 2020, yet another change in Government policy means that I now don’t know whether to go or not. I’ll have to find out on Monday. Nor am I sure, for the same reason, whether or not either or both of my grandchildren will be returning to school next week. Uncertainty rules.
That certainly applies in many other fields, particularly in some close to my interests. Sports are not doing at all well. When are art galleries and art exhibitions going to be open again? – we don’t know. Personally, the near-complete absence of art exhibitions for nearly a year has been my loss most keenly felt. I visited three in fact, all carefully booked in advance and very properly socially-distanced. One was at a new venue just outside the village of Rendham, and very good it was too. Two were at White House Farm, Glemham, about which I have written much in happier times. The second visit, just the other week before Xmas, was of a very high standard and a joy to see, not only for the artistic quality but also for being almost completely on one’s own. That is one big plus for the exhibition goer in present circumstances: being able to experience the event in the company of only one or two other people.
It’s the same going to a music concert: the great concert hall at Snape Maltings which seats 850 people looks very strange indeed when ‘sold out’ means that but 80 people are carefully scattered through it as singles, couples and groups of three or four. For those lucky enough to be one of the 80, the experience is enhanced by not being crowded, making it easier to arrive and leave, and by a somewhat sharper acoustic in a hall famed for its acoustics. It is so sad that, after valiant and successful efforts to keep something going at the Maltings throughout the autumn, all there is currently closed under new government restrictions as the infection rate rises rapidly in Suffolk.
Today presents us with another challenge: how to cope now that, as from today, politically we are not part of Europe. One answer involves the next few days and weeks, concerning in particular the passage (or otherwise) of goods between the UK and Europe. Another answer concerns the longer term. That we have such questions I personally find very sad; so here is a morose photograph of a familiar view, south along the sea wall towards the Martello tower at Aldeburgh. It was taken on Boxing Day, a week ago. The blue line has been newly repainted but the painting I made of this view some years ago was destroyed in 2020.