Thought 2020 Was All Bad? Think Again!
Ok, so there's no doubt 2020 has been an unbelievably challenging year for pretty much most of the world.
Who am I kidding? It's been totally messed up.
In the UK, we started the year as a country bitterly divided over Brexit. You couldn't even say the B-word without a huge political debate ensuing, even with like-minded people. So heightened were our sensitivites, no matter which side of the water you sat, people started to avoid talking about it.
Who could ever have guessed it would be a global pandemic to bring us back together and make us re-assess our priorities. Who would have thought that being ordered to stay in our homes, taking away our pubs, limiting our contact with family and friends, would make us realise how vital we are to each other.
As someone who always tries to see the positivity around me, I wanted to share with you 20 amazing, brilliant, positive, and downright hilarious things that have happened this year to make us all see that 2020 still had its beautiful moments.
It was touch and go for a while, and none of us wanted to get our hopes too high, but Donald Trump finally got his comeuppance when Joe Biden took the title of President-Elect in the 2020 US election. But of course, in true Trump style, he had to act like the giant inflated baby he is and try every underhand trick in the book to try and overturn the result.
But no-one was having it.
His supporters tried to "STOP THE COUNT" whilst also demanding "RECOUNT" but enough was enough, and Trump finally went to the Oval Office to cry over one victory he just couldn't claim.
Oh, and let's not forget the brilliant mistake of booking the Four Seasons Total Landscaping for his press conference rather than the swanky Four Seasons Hotel. You couldn't make it up.
DID SHE DO IT?
The whole world went Carole Baskin mad when Netflix premiered Tiger King back in March. It was perfect OG Lockdown viewing with its redneck settings, beautiful animals, and bat shit crazy star Joe Exotic, a private roadside zoo owner with a love of arranging murder, and who is currently in jail for that very thing, as well as killing five tiger cubs.
But even with all of Joe's disturbing and bizarre life stories, there was only one question that kept viewers hooked; did Carole Baskin murder her husband? Carole Baskin was Joe's rival. An animal activist who also ran her own animal sanctuary and was the intended victim for Joe's murderous plotting. Her husband, Don Lewis, disappeared in 1997 and never a trace of him has been found since. Joe Exotic accused Ms. Baskin of murdering her husband and feeding him to the tigers. So compelling was this whole argument, and series, that it left us all wondering...well, did she?
I love The Rock, I make no apologies.
So you can imagine my sheer hilarious delight when, back in September, Dwayne Johnson and his family were trapped in their property when a storm (a storm in LA?!) cause a power outage meaning his front gates would not open to let his car out.
So what Dwayne do? Did he call the electrician? Did he hop over the wall instead?
In true Rock style, he ripped the damn big, iron gate off the wall with his own bare hands!
Well, they say if you want a job done properly...
ARISE SIR TOM!
Never was the population more united than back in April when Captain Tom Moore took to walking laps in his garden to raise £1000 by his 100th birthday for the NHS. His story touched the hearts of us all and by that milestone birthday 24 days later, he had raised over £33million for the NHS and was knighted by the Queen in July for his heroic efforts.
Not only did he receive that honour, but he was also named BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, featured in a cover version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" sung by Michael Ball which made it to the top of the charts, making Captain Sir Thomas Moore the oldest person to achieve a UK number one!
The rarest Great Apes, the Cross River gorillas, are also of course the most endangered. So imagine the pure joy, when back in July, they were photographed in the mountains of Southern Nigeria with their infants!
This raised the hopes of the Wildlife Conversation Society who say that although these gorillas are at threat of extinction, with only 300 being known in existence, they are actually reproducing, giving some hope for their future existence,
Sigourney Weaver would be proud.
AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...
...Parasite! In February, history was made when the Best Picture gong at the Academy Awards went to a foreign language film for the first time.
Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-Ho was a worthy winner with its dark comic undertone and brilliant, innovative storyline. I won't give any spoilers but needless to say, it's genius, not only winning Best Picture, but also Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. It also became South Korea's highest grossing film.
THE 7% SWITCH.
With everything grounded during lockdown, and travel being at an absolute minimum, the effect on our air quality spoke for itself with carbon emissions dropping by a whopping 7%. It may not sound much but that's the biggest drop on record!
2020 was also the first year since the Industrial Revolution (1760 - 1840) that saw more coal plants close than open, with the cheapest option now being solar and wind power. Go environment!
We could say about time, but let's still look at this as a huge positive! Pope Francis has endorsed same-sex civil unions. And let's call a spade a spade, why wouldn't you? Who has the right to tell someone they can't be with the person they love?
Pope Francis' exact words were:
"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a Civil Union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that."
Anyone who thinks different, it's none of your business, doesn't affect your life, move on.
WHO'S ZOOMING WHO?
If you had told me a year ago that the biggest thing to happen to the internet this year would be Zoom, I would have bought shares! Had anyone even heard of Zoom before Covid?
If this year has taught us anything, it's that working from home is hugely productive, hugely manageable and hugely weight gaining! In the first couple of weeks of lockdown, I ate my bodyweight in Jaffa Cakes twice over. In fact, Jaffa Cakes no longer exist, because I ate them.
Zoom, Google Meet, WhatsApp, all those online communication platforms have revolutionized the way we communicate, not only for work, but for social activity too. I've lost count of the number of online quizzes I've done, the meetings I've had, and just the general catch up with friends.
Being at home has made us all realise that through thinking outside the box, we can still be pro-active, productive, and social. Plus thinking of new, clever ways to entertain online always brings hilarious results!
THE POWER OF A WOMAN.
With Donald Trump's departure and Joe Biden's arrival, the world has been given a beautiful gift in the form of Kamala Harris; the first Black female Vice President-Elect.
This year the Black Lives Matter movement has become the world's biggest movement, spurred on by the senseless murder of George Floyd. A murder that outraged the world and moved people to take a stand and make a change. Think all lives matter? Of course they do in the grand scheme, but your life isn't being persecuted right now, so turn your attention to those whose lives are.
Vice President-Elect Harris's victory is not just one for women, or Black women, it's one for a generation of people who are prepared to make a change, to push boundaries, to make a difference, and make the world a more equal place.
SCOTLAND KNOWS BEST. PERIOD.
In November, women all over Scotland cheered when MSP's unanimously voted to make sanitary products free "to anyone who needs them". In England however, until today, period products were still classed as a luxury item and had 5% tax. That tax is now gone, but shouldn't we be following Scotland's lead on this "non-essential" item?
The bill was introduced by Labour MSP Monica Lennon who has been campaigning since 2016 to end "period poverty". Did you know that 10% of girls aged 14-21 are unable to afford period products? So whilst this is a huge, wonderful thing for Scotland, we'll just have to keep hoping the rest of the UK follow suit.
AND SPEAKING OF BLOODWORK.
Just two weeks ago it was announced that from September 2021 gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood. The eligibility will be reviewed on a case by case basis rather than a blanket ban for gay or bisexual men. This means the removal of the three month deferral period for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and particularly men in long term relationships with other men.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!
Footballer Marcus Rashford won the hearts of the nation when he helped raise £20Million for the charity FareShare in March. FareShare provide free food for hungry children, which was particularly needed when the schools closed during lockdown, and children from poorer backgrounds were facing going without meals.
Rashford remembered his own childhood, and his Mum working all the hours to make sure he had food, and also attended a breakfast club at his school where he would have a free breakfast. By being an ambassador for FareShare, Rashford has raised awareness of child hunger in the UK, persueded huge companies such as Tesco to get involved and even influenced the government to provide a Winter package for hungry children. He made several personal donations and started the Child Food Poverty Taskforce to ensure this work continues. Oh, did I mention he was also made an M.B.E.?
COLOURS OF THE WORLD.
Its hard to believe this hasn't been done yet, but crayon giants Crayola released a pack of skintone crayons, for everyone's skin tone. As they beautifully put it in their campaign, every child should have the right to colour themselves into the world. What more is there to say?
JUSTICE IS SERVED!
In February this year, Hollywood heavyweight producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of sexual assault and rape. The following month, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison. It was the conclusion of almost 2 years of sexual abuse allegations dating all the way back to the 1970's.
But this was more than just a sexual abuse case, it was a crucial start in holding powerful men accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace, and it was a crucial step in the #metoo movement giving women the support to project their voice over their own bodies.
Although Weinstein was not convicted of the most serious charge against him, predatory sexual assault, and although he always maintained his innocence, men and women all over the world knew that something had changed, no-one is above the law and eventually the truth will always win out.
Comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris started the trend of #lockdownlipsync and entertained us all for hours with their hilarious antics. It started with Parris mouthing out Ariana Grande's Trouble and little by little there were costumes, props and an entire army of fans following suit with their own lockdown lipsync.
I worked with Marcus Brigstocke a few years ago and he really is as much fun and flair as you see in these brilliant videos. Fair play you two, you kept us giggling for months!
ALL HAIL THE NHS
What a year the NHS has had. At the best of times they are stretched, but throw in a global pandemic and you really get to see what they are made of. This year has really opened our eyes to our real heroes who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe whilst still keeping their good humour with hilarious TikTok dance vids.
Seeing the great British public cheering and clapping every Thursday night at 8pm came to be a very emotional event. We were compelled to help them as much as we could. People starting making extra scrubs and masks to take to their local hospitals. Companies, including my good friend Sally Wood's Sweet Theatre chocolate company, were contributing hundreds of items to care packages for our NHS workers, and we all understood how precious our NHS is and how lucky we are to have it.
SHE GOT THE BOOM LIKE HER NAME J-LO!
Jennifer Lopez is a goddess let's be honest. But no show proved this better than her Superbowl half time show with old snake hips herself Shakira back in February. J-Lo, who was 50 at the time of this spectacular event, commanded that stage, had the audience screaming in excitement and proved that age really is just a number.
If you missed it, then here is my gift to you.
KANYE FOR PRESIDENT.
Yes you read that right. Kayne West ran for President of the United States. I have nothing else.
PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE.
If 2020 has shown us anything, it's how much we need each other; that the best thing we can be is kind to one another. No-one could have predicted what this year would turn out to be or how we would respond best, but respond at our best we did.
From a simple knock on the door to deliver groceries, to musicians entertaining their neighbours from their balconies, the human spirit was alive and well and refusing to be beaten.
So as we enter 2021, the uncertainty is still with us, but the light is beginning to rise with an approved Covid vaccine now being rolled out to the most vulnerable. So hang in there people, keep going, we will get through this together.
I wish you a happy, healthy, New Year.