Posted by: aboutalbion | December 24, 2019

2019 … a very short review of my year

To all readers of this post … I send my very best wishes for 2020.

I’m now becoming more familiar with my coastal community. At the same time, regular away-day visits to cities I’ve lived in before keep me in touch with my family and my past lives.

My voluntary work commitments have continued. With the vibrant local U3A, I’ve enjoyed continuing with my Ballroom and Latin American dance class, as well as becoming more involved with the paperwork in the office that supports the wide range of special interest groups that members really appreciate. And at the local well-run hospital, I’ve become more involved in supporting patients in the wards.

With my immersion in these activities, I’ve had to confess to visitors to my home that I’ve yet to open a pot of paint to begin the interior decoration … When I have had some ‘me’ time, I’ve continued to be drawn for relaxation and inspiration to the seashore promenade. “To go to the sea is synonymous with letting go”, as one researcher has put it.

I did manage a short break this year. I had the pleasure of house-sitting for a few days in rural Oxfordshire, which in turn enabled me to visit the evocative “Last Supper at Pompeii” exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum

I’ve also slain a dragon this year. Based on my experience as a teenager, I have always linked teeth extraction with pain and the need for a general anaesthetic. However, I had to have a tooth out and, such was the confidence I had in my NHS dentist, I consented to being awake with a ‘local’. What a relief … all my apprehensions from more than sixty years ago were evaporated in around ten minutes … quite amazing.

My remarkable daughters continue to hearten me with the challenges that they overcome. I’m full of admiration for their achievements this year. One daughter has survived having two of my grandsons on public examinations. Both achieved the grades they needed. And both have made transitions – one to a nearby university, and one to a local Sixth Form College. Another daughter is now getting used to having both of my grandchildren at school, and the family are now adjusting to her resuming appropriate part-time work with her former employer. Owing to relocation to another country, a third daughter has calmly settled three more of my grandchildren in a nearby British school.

As I write this, the very recent ‘general election’ is being interpreted as the second confirmatory referendum on EU membership. The decisive parliamentary result seems most likely to move the UK towards the exit door marked ‘symbolic political Brexit’ at the end of January. As I see it, a second exit door marked ‘effective economic Brexit’ then comes into view at the end of 2020 with the aspiration to conclude a ‘free trade deal’ with the EU. What disappoints me is that the party that has campaigned for (and won) this decisive parliamentary majority has not engaged in any public discussion of what the UK’s national interest is … To say that the government’s mandate is “to deliver on the people’s priorities” seems to me to be rather reckless, since it will involve increasing the National Debt, and hence increase the financial burden on our children and grand-children. And I remind myself that the social challenges of ‘housing’, ‘schools’, and ‘the NHS’ are independent of our membership of the EU.

And for a reality check, the most sobering statistic about the UK has just been published. It concerns our national ‘productivity’, and the Royal Statistical Society has named it the UK Statistic of the Decade. (I read that productivity is the key to every country’s long-term prosperity, and high productivity growth means a bigger economic pie, allowing for higher wage growth and more money for public services.) In the period before the financial crisis, our productivity was growing at around 2% each year, but, in the last decade, that has slumped to an average growth of 0.3% a year. Was I the only person who did not hear ‘productivity’ talked about in the election campaign?

Finally, this morning, the UK’s Prime Minister in his first Christmas message invites UK residents “to celebrate the good that is coming” … without explaining what he thinks “the good” is ….

So may the mystery at the heart of creation bless us all with hope, and give each of us peace of mind and heart in the days that lie ahead.

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