Lockdown – Reflections at the end of week 39

Rather than the usual headlong dash, the feeling at large seems to be one of meandering towards Christmas. Nevertheless, there is starting to be a distinct air of the end of term with office and factory Christmas breaks, including our own, beginning at close of business today. It’s a combination of fatigue and restrictions which is at play, and I get the sense that many are looking for the excuse to shut the front door on the world, ignore the news for a few days and have a good rest.

I don’t think that many of you will be too interested in reading my random jottings on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day either, so my calloused index fingers are getting a rest too. In the final piece of a tumultuous year, there’s plenty of tough stuff that I could concentrate on. It’s been a week of rapidly rising infection rates in many parts of the UK, some hospitals hitting crisis point with queues of ambulances forming outside A and E departments which are full to bursting, arguments over the relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period, the announcement of January lockdowns in some parts of the UK with others likely to follow in the rest and the ongoing Brexit saga where we are urged to prepare our businesses for the new rules, no easy matter when, with two weeks to go, we don’t know what they are. Avoiding the M2 in early January is about as far in planning as most people can get.

There has also been the unwelcome news that style spotters are predicting that 2021 will be the year which sees the widespread return of the mullet.

But I’m not going to dwell on any of them. Instead, looking back on the story of the lockdown months, through all the crisis, personal tragedy and awfulness, let’s concentrate on the extraordinary dedication and effort, most notably from healthcare and other key workers but from countless others as well in what has been a huge affirmation of the human spirit. All over the country, people have stepped up to the plate with remarkable resilience and selflessness to keep things going, from health services to supply chains and shops, from food banks and other charities to cleaners and refuse collectors, as well as those who have made considerable effort or sacrifices in adapting how they work to the changed circumstances of lockdown. We owe them all a huge and continuing debt of gratitude and I hope that when commentators look back on this period in a few years’ time, it’s this aspect which comes through as much as, if not more than, economics and the politics.

This year, Christmas and New Year wishes of health and happiness will be more poignant and more meaningful than for several generations, particularly for those who have suffered personal loss, who have loved ones in hospital or who are having to make difficult decisions about who it is sensible for them to see or not see at Christmas. Whilst the vaccine offers hope of renewed social contact next year, it’s tough to forego that long anticipated contact now, but many will do so for both the immediate and for the greater good in another reflection of the human spirit.

It remains for me to thank you for reading these pieces during this year and for the kind comments on them which some of you have sent to me and, more importantly, to wish you and those whom you love a peaceful, restful and, most of all, healthy Christmas.

Please kindly note our offices will be closed from Friday 18 December at 4pm and re-opening on Monday 4 January. If the matter is urgent please contact our main switchboard on 01473 232121.

Ian Waine
Senior Partner