Review of the year 2020 – the heroes and zeros

A blog looking back on the tumultuous year that was 2020. We went through a lot this year, but the future looks brighter. Here is my review of the year, with its heroes and zeros. 

Every year I write a post looking back on the heroes and zeroes of the preceding 12 months. Before putting pen to paper, I read through last year’s entry to remind myself of the issues which were on my mind then. Oh my, how naïve I was, thinking that Brexit was the worst of our problems.

Where do I start!?

2020 was always set to be a memorable year. The eyes of the world were preparing to focus on Tokyo for the Olympics, on Dubai for Expo 2020 and on London for a summer of sport including the Euro 2020 final.

And then someone ate a bat in Wuhan and 2020 became a year none of us will forget, for all the wrong reasons.

This was the year that the government taught us how to wash our hands properly and cover our faces. They made it illegal for us to meet our loved ones, or attend weddings and funerals. We clapped for carers every Thursday, while retailers, pubs and restaurants locked their doors and many will never reopen.

This was the year that 1.58 million people died from COVID-19.

The new normal

There is no sugar coating it: 2020 has been tough for most people on both a professional and personal level.

Lockdown forced everyone to work from home, with the juggle of childcare or home-schooling for many.

Mental health was high on the agenda, but with public health services overwhelmed with Coronavirus cases, most people had to cope without support.

The Teen is currently self-isolating as instructed by his school. He’s shut away in his room taking his lessons on his laptop (or more likely watching YouTube).

We used to live in London. Now it’s known as Tier Two, and by next week is likely to be renamed Tier Three. I’m going to eat three meals a day in restaurants until the new restrictions come in. Planning and cooking every single meal for the whole family for several months without the reprieve offered by restaurant meals nearly broke me during the lockdown.

But we were the lucky ones. The unlucky ones were in hospital or suffering domestic abuse.

We went through a lot this year, but the future looks brighter. Here is my review of the year, with its heroes and zeros. 

The new lexicon

2020 gave us a whole new language to describe our bizarre condition.

  • Lockdown – a phrase previously only used in prison riot situations.
  • Self-isolation – a misnomer, as this isn’t a personal decision, but one imposed on us by the government.
  • Support bubble – not a Zorb, but a group of people you’re allowed to meet up with.
  • Social distancing – keep two metres apart, unless you’re the prime minister posing for photographs with MPs.
  • Blursday – all the days just blur into one. Groundhog Day for the new generation.
  • Covidiot – someone ignoring public health advice, eg Dominic Cummings.

If you are not familiar with these phrases, you are from the future. Congratulations, you have survived the apocalypse.

Black Lives Matter

On 25 May, George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer. The world watched the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he begged for his life, gasping ‘I can’t breathe’.

What followed was an outpouring of outrage across the world, as an estimated 15 million people took part in Black Lives Matter protests across the US. Most were peaceful, however, there was also violence and looting, resulting in injuries and at least one death.

The conversation about race has permeated every part of society – from police brutality to lack of representation in the entertainment and business.

16th Street NW in Downtown Washington, D.C which leads directly to the White House, was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in June. So at least there’s that.

Trump

I find it increasingly difficult talking about this abhorrent narcissist. It is my wish that in a couple of years we will not speak his name in public, as is the protocol with mass murderers and terrorists.

This year Trump:

  • Excused white supremacists, calling them ‘very fine people’.
  • Teargassed Black Lives Matter campaigners so that he could attend a photo opportunity.
  • Advised Americans to drink bleach to flush out the virus.
  • Played golf while Coronavirus ravaged lives and livelihoods. He was a super spreader and repeatedly flouted public health advice.
  • Undermined democracy itself, by refusing to accept Biden’s election win. At the time of writing, he still hasn’t officially conceded.

As I’ve said before, if you don’t like my opinion, you are wrong and I won’t be the least bit bothered if you leave.

We went through a lot this year, but the future looks brighter. Here is my review of the year, with its heroes and zeros. 

Trump and his team also gave us comedy gold. Who will forget the press conference held in the car park of Four Season’s Total Landscaping, or watching the hair dye slowly run down Rudy Giuliani’s face? And there was Trump sitting at his Fisher-Price table.

On the plus side

There are silver linings to this cloudy year. There is a vaccine and the elderly and vulnerable have already started lining up for it. The second person in the UK to receive the jab was William Shakespeare from Warwickshire. Winston Churchill from Oxfordshire wasn’t available.

Trump is on his way out. He’s still disputing the election results but even the Supreme Court, largely supporters of Trump, has thrown out his most recent appeal. With any luck he’ll be in prison this time next year, watching his back and not bending down for the soap.

Heroes of the year

Marcus Rashford

In a surprising turn of events, a 23-year-old footballer became a national treasure. Marcus Rashford twice persuaded the UK government to perform U-turns on its free school meals policy.

He used his huge public profile to lead the call for extending free school meals to children from low-income families. Rashford gathered support from the media, charities and the general public until the pressure was too great for the government to resist.

Captain Sir Tom Moore

The centenarian raised over £32 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden. He became the oldest artist to top the UK singles chart, with a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone – for charity of course – and was knighted by the Queen in May.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris made history this year, becoming the first female and BAME US Vice President-elect. She was graceful and confident throughout the election campaign, in the face of interruptions and insults hurled by Republicans.

Scientists

Despite the nonsense spouted by the anti-vaxxers and the conspiracy theorists, science won this year. Jonathan Van-Tam – affectionately known as JVT – with his crazy metaphors, was the public face of the scientific community. A COVID-19 vaccine was developed in record time and has led to developments in other diseases such as malaria.

Carers, teachers, key workers

We learned a new appreciation for so many professions we take for granted. They kept calm and carried on while us office workers moaned about home-schooling.

Time to look forward

So 2021 should be the year that we’re all released from bondage. It might be several months before we can get back together with friends and family, but when we do… oh man do we have some celebrating to catch up on.

We got through 2020 folks. Now let’s put that bastard in the bin.

Sending you all love, health and happiness for the year ahead. Wishing you a happy Hanukkah, Christmas, or whatever else you celebrate this time of year.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you agree with my heroes and zeros. Who would you nominate?

Much love, Vx

PS: I launched a podcast this year called Don’t Shoot The Messenger. It’s about corporate communications careers. It’s been great fun to make. I’d love you to have a listen. You can find it on all the podcast apps – just look for the megaphone on a yellow background, or listen directly here. Thank you.

Don't shoot the messenger podcast, bringing you interesting conversations about careers in communications