National Treasure

I got my first jab a few weeks back but, being a tad younger than me, Liam had to wait a tad longer for his. He got his first shot in the food court at the Castle Quarter Shopping Centre in Norwich where life-saving injections rather than artery-hardening fried chicken are now on the menu.

Vaccine centres across the realm come in all shapes and sizes but none is more majestic than the soaring Gothic splendour of Westminster Abbey in London. And who better to enter stage right than Norfolk boy Stephen Fry, actor, writer, presenter, everyone’s favourite audiobook narrator and all-round gay good egg. Here he is getting his first jab by Poets’ Corner, final resting place of writers, artists and actors down the ages – Chaucer, Browning, Tennison, Dickens and Olivier, among many others.

It’s a place for national treasures like Stephen Fry.

Putting on the Ritz

I know it can be tough on pets and those of a nervous disposition but I do love a pyrotechnic extravaganza, especially at New Year – all that sound and fury signifying nothing but the turning of time. When London was home, I’d jump on the Tube to enjoy the spectacle from the banks of Old Father Thames along with tens of thousands of other revellers. These days I’m content to watch from the comfort of a warm sofa, glass of bubbly in hand.

For obvious reasons, we assumed the fireworks would be off this year. But the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had other ideas. Without plug or promotion, sneaky Sadiq gave us the old razzle dazzle to cheer us up. The theatres may all be dark right now but London can still put on a show.  

Top of the Pansy Pops 2020

What a year. Who would have predicted that 2020 would have brought a pandemic to strike us down and trash the global economy? Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus dominated the pansy charts this year. And there was death too but not because of the virus. Professionally, I lost a fellow author in a horrific murder and, personally, I lost my oldest friend to a sudden and totally unexpected cardiac arrest. But then came the COVID-19 survivor close to my heart and a birthday milestone, both of which brought some hope and happiness to a tragic year best left behind.

Despite the hurricane that swirled around us, Liam and I have been incredibly fortunate and life remains calm and peaceful. We know how lucky we are. The pansies remain forever perked.

Ladies and gents, both, neither and all those in between, I give you top of the pansy pops for 2020.

RIP, Lindsay de Feliz | Missing You Already! | A Trip Down Malaysian Memory Lane | Our Independence Day | Don’t Be a Twat, Wear a Face Mask | It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want To | Mad Dogs and Englishmen | Lucky Jack | Living Angels | London Calling

The most popular image of 2020 was this fuzzy black and white photo of my old primary school in Malaysia during my army brat years. Usually it’s something smutty or a hunk in the buff.

Mountbatten Primary School

2020 was a write-off but do I see more hopeful times for the New Year? I think so but then I’m an eternal optimist. Clearly, the vaccine will be centre-stage. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, life should start returning to normal. Wishing us all a safe and sane 2021.

Staying Safe

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We usually fit in a jolly to the big city just before Christmas to see family. But not this year. Instead we’ll be hunkering down and staying put. My old girl will be one of the first in line for the vaccine as it’s rolled out, so we’ll see her after she’s had the jab. She understands. It’s the safest thing to do.

Smoke-free by Thirty

I’m a dedicated and sometimes not very subtle eavesdropper. When we were travelling on the London Tube a few weeks back, two hipster types were sitting opposite chatting away. Naturally, I listened in.

Called the doctor today to get my hands on some Champix. I really need to quit the fags. He asked me if I felt suicidal which I thought was a bit odd. I said no. I’d already had a G and T so I was feeling pretty good. Then he asked me if I felt positive about the future. I laughed. I said as we’re in the middle of a pandemic, with Brexit, more austerity and mass unemployment ahead, I found it hard to be positive. Fair enough, he replied.

I should be getting my pills soon. So, depending on how well I cope with the pandemic, Brexit, more austerity and mass unemployment, I should be smoke-free by 30!’

‘Not at chance,’ his friend replied.