Well, here we are at the end of 2019 and about to embark on a new decade. Well, unless you’re one of the pedantic types who says that the next decade doesn’t actually start until 2021 ‘cos there wasn’t a year zero. Which sounds mathematically reasonable, but is pretty much a load of cobblers, given the fact that the current calendar didn’t really exist back then anyway. Most people also tend to call the zero years (10, 20, etc.) the start of a decade, so for all practical purposes you lost the argument long ago and should probably stop tilting at that particular windmill both for your own mental health and to spare the rest of us your boring pontifications.

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the end of a decade is upon us. And what a decade it has been. I’m pretty sure that most of us who have lived through it won’t be forgetting it in a hurry, but I, for one, have a number of reasons why I wish that I could. So, at the risk of bringing down the overall levels of New Year’s Eve cheer, here is my bullet-point farewell to the 2010s.

  • 2010 began with my father suffering a stroke on New Year’s Day. This led to around nine months in hospital, during which time we also suffered a couple of very close family bereavements. I also had to have my father’s elderly and ailing dog put to sleep while father was still severely ill in hospital. Not a nice bit of news to have to pass on under those circumstances I can tell you. This was also the year when we had to wind up our business and start afresh due to the lingering economic shitstorm coming out of the noughties.
  • 2011 my father spent this year in and out of various hospitals, before finally passing away at home in October.
  • 2012 surviving my father by around nine months, my mother passed away in July.
  • 2013 I don’t really recall much about it, other than that we spent the year trying to recover from 2010, 2011 and 2012.
  • 2014 – a good thing – we moved to Scotland. Yay!
  • 2015 was spent settling in to our new home and sorting out the sale of the new business that we set up in 2011. Also good things.
  • 2016 the long-running, intensely irritating and bloody stupid fiasco that is Brexit began. Also, just to prove that the UK wasn’t the most thick-headed and benighted country in the western world, the USA elected Donald Trump as President. Trump? Seriously? What the hell were you thinking? Or what the hell were you drinking?!?
  • 2017 a mixed sort of bag, pottering on in Portpatrick, wondering what bizarre political and economic cock-up might come next. Oh, and selling our house. Also, a general election that made the whole Brexit thing even sillier and caused more problems across the board. Well done Theresa May, you monumental cockwomble.
  • 2018 guess what? Yes, we were still trying to sell our house. The whole process, which at first looked like it was going to be quick, slick and easy, ended up taking nearly ten months. We also nearly lost the house that we wanted to buy (since the sellers, quite reasonably, couldn’t just keep waiting around while our ongoing saga kept running and running). However, it all worked out in the end and we finally moved – another good thing. I also discovered blacksmithing, which is also a good thing.
  • 2019 ending the decade as it began, we have been to far too many funerals this year. Both good friends and – most tragically – family in the form of our wonderful nephew Charley who, at the age of only 27, lost his life in an accident at work. On the positive side, Glenda was selected to take part in this year’s Spring Fling art event and we had quite a successful weekend of it. Still, it’s fair to say that the self-employed creative life is a pretty difficult row to hoe at the moment, given the state of the economy and the blithering idiots in charge of the country.

So, all in all, I’d mark the twenty-teens as a bit of a curate’s egg – only good in parts, if at all. Throw in the myriad failings and problems of social media (yes, Facebook, I’m looking at you), the rise of zero-hour contracts and the gig economy and the increasing disparity in wealth between the 1% and the rest of us. Oh, and not forgetting the rise of populist, right-wing demagoguery and, in some cases, actual Nazis. (Christ on a bike people, we went through this kind of thing before in the 1920s and 1930s – try reading a history book FFS!)

Now, I quite honestly hope that the rest of you (or some of you, at least) had a better time of it during the course of the last ten years. However, considering all of the above – even allowing for the occasional good things that happened to leaven the bad – I still think I will be rather glad to see the back of this decade once and for all.

Here’s hoping that the twenties are better for all of us. Slainte mhath!