The view from here

In 2020 we got to know names like Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van Tam. With the best will in the world, I really hope we don’t hear much more from them in 2021. No, let’s focus on the names Maggie Keenan and May Parsons. I’ve got them both tucked away for a future village quiz. Who are they? Respectively, they are the first recipient of the first UK-approved Covid-19 vaccine and the nurse who administered it in the early hours of 8th December.

Two more names for you from my line of work: Clyde Dawson and Sharon Buchanan. You’ve never heard of them, but posterity records their names as the customer and checkout operator on the first occasion when the barcode scanner went beep at 08:01 on 26th June 1974 at Marsh Stores, Troy, Ohio. That simple action, as Clyde bought his 10 pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum, is now utterly routine and we don’t need to think about it, but it’s the visible part of a system of supply chains that has kept scotch eggs and toilet rolls in our shops throughout what we all fervently hope will remain the worst health crisis of our lifetimes. The beep was unnoticed and quickly forgotten by almost everyone. But it was a beginning, as was Maggie & May’s brief time in the spotlight.

As 2021 gets underway, what new beginning can we look forward to? It’s still dark, damp and miserable outside but we can hope that by the time summer comes round the church fete can go ahead; that Chattisham can open its gardens; that the Community Hall and its social club will again be a place we can gather freely; that The George can be fully open and the MUGA in full use.

We’re not there yet, but the view from here is better than it’s been for a long time. 2021 is when we get back to some sort of normality.

2020? You’re muted.

Background to the article

The Chattisham and Hintlesham village signs. Each shows an outline of the boundary, major roads etc, in the style of a hand-drawn map

Each month, the Hintlesham & Chattisham village newsletter, The Link, includes a reflection written by a different member of the community. The editor, Gerald Main, asked me to do this for the January 2021 edition.

It's a bit of a challenge in that it has to be apolitical — no mention of Brexit, for example — and attempt to be relevant to the local community. The topic shouldn't take the title literally, otherwise I'd be talking about the view through our gate to the field beyond, which, while certainly pleasant, would rather miss the point.