A blog looking back over 2019, reviewing the last 12 months as I do every year. 2019 can be summed up thus: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
A new dawn
I’m cutting it fine with this year’s end of year review, it being less than 12 hours away from the dawn of a new decade as I start to type.
As usual, Christmas was over too soon, in a fug of mulled wine and mince pies. Twixtmas was a confusion of days melting into one another, too many leftovers and long lie-ins.
I’ll be glad to see the back of 2019. We were meant to leave the EU, but instead suffered political paralysis and endured two general elections, while the economy stagnated. Trump is still in power, against all the odds and continues to deny culpability for all of his many cock-ups.
The environment is in crisis – Australia is currently burning and swathes of the Amazon were lost to fire this year. While in the UK a whole town had to be evacuated due to floods. And on a personal note, we lost two members of our family.
It wasn’t all bad
Greta Thunberg spoke up for the planet at the UN. Ethiopia planted 353 million trees in just 12 hours, a world record. Northern Ireland legalised abortion and gay marriage. Finland elected the world’s youngest serving prime minister, who will lead with four other female party leaders.
We also welcomed two babies into the world, as my nieces both had little girls. Circle of life and all that.
The world according to Lifestyle Maven
Here are some of the highlights and lowlifes of 2019:
Hero of the year
Greta Thunberg. The inspirational 16-year-old campaigner inspired a worldwide populist movement to push governments to address the climate emergency facing planet Earth. Time Magazine named her Person of the Year, upsetting Trump who said she needed to ‘chill out’ and work on her anger management problems.
Thunberg responded with a brilliantly sarcastic comeback, changing her Twitter biog to read ‘A Teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling.’ Thereby becoming a hero twice over.
Zero of the year
Prince Andrew gave a toe-curling interview to Emily Maitliss, in which he tried to defend his friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The sweat-free Prince demonstrated his disconnection with reality, documenting trips on private jets, yachts and a ‘straightforward shooting weekend’ – you know, just like the bog-standard shooting weekends we’re all so familiar with.
Clusterfuck of the year
Brexit. Will-we-won’t-we votes, delays, extensions, flextensions, deadlines, missed deadlines, extended deadlines. I’m sick to death of it.
Destination of the year
Slightly biased here but I’m plumping for Scotland. We had an amazing few days in a remote, luxury eco-village and exploring the highlands, before taking in the shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which you can read all about here.
Word of the year
Menopause. About bloody time too! Women have been going through menopause as long as we’ve had wombs, but we’re only just starting to talk about it.
In 2019 BBC Breakfast devoted a week to the issue and there are discussions afoot to add menopause to secondary school sex and relationship lessons in the UK.
I expect much more exploration and education around the topic. Let’s normalise the conversation, so we can ditch the embarrassment and start to understand what’s happening to our bodies and minds.
Hopes for 2020
2019 was a year when Britain seemed more divided than ever. Personally, I am proudly European, but I have friends who voted for Brexit and am able to have a civilised conversation with them. We can agree to disagree without insulting each other.
I know we will not be staying in the European Union and I have made peace with that. We need to pull together now, to heal the wounds created by the referendum.
Whether you’re a leaver or remainer, whatever your political persuasion, religion, ideology and nationality, I hope that 2020 will bring each one of you health and happiness and that whatever dreams you wish for come true. Just as long as they aren’t at the expense of anyone else’s wellbeing.
It’s not only a new year, but also a whole new decade. I have so much to be grateful for, not least the fact that you’re still reading! I don’t do resolutions, but I’m visualising a happy and productive year, full of variety and laughter.
Happy new year!
Much love, Vx