If ever there was a year that’s under a lot of pressure to deliver, it’s 2021. Not fair really. There’s been this unspoken, unfounded but understood belief that last year’s horror show would somehow vanish as soon as the Town Hall clock struck midnight on January 1st. With each and every one of those chimes ringing across the soggy Copenhagen night air, we would bid good riddance to a year blighted by pandemic, and usher in a new dawn of viral-free freedom. Except it didn’t. Funny that.
2021 has already caved under pressure. It’s told us we shouldn’t get our hopes up. Within only a week of its birth, this year delivered us an unbridled attack on the very seat of US democracy. The images of a failed coup ascending Capitol Hill was a sight to behold. A conflagration of jagged, angry flags, ludicrous facial hair, UFO abductees, Far Right nutjobs and extras from Deliverance. That wasn’t so funny.
Last year was especially turbulent for me. January 2020 alone saw an unexpected and tragic death in the family, me blighted by a nasty bout of shingles and then both kids simultaneously struck down by chicken pox so aggressive, they resembled those doomed engineers ordered to cool down Reactor 4 at Chernobyl. And then, a few weeks later, just when things started to calm down for us and sickness had waned, the entire world caved in on itself. What a time to be alive. But I remain hopeful.
Globally speaking, we are lucky to be living here in the time of corona. The UK crumbled. The British government proved even worse at handling a pandemic than Brexit. I remain largely disinterested by Danish politics – too much choice and not enough variety – but I do applaud the current government. Their relatively swift action enabled schools and nurseries to reopen and people to return to work in good time, albeit under different, strange conditions.
As a parent, I was grateful my kids could continue to enjoy their own kind and we could preserve our sanity. As a performer, I know just how fortunate I was to spend a large chunk of last year doing stand-up comedy and improv to paying audiences all around this city, when so many overseas had their professions and employment crushed overnight by months of interminable lockdown. OK, so things have since gone backwards, but we turned it around before, I remain hopeful we can do it again.
Now Brexit has happened, along with all other Brits living here, I must reapply for residency. I remain hopeful this will be just a formality and not a hurdle. I’ve lived here half a decade now, this is my home. It is my kids’ home. I want them to enjoy growing up here. Then in ten years’ time, we can visit the smoldering ruins of Daddy’s homeland and buy a Chelsea townhouse for five jellied eels and a pickled egg.
I also remain hopeful I can shed the lockdown weight and keep it off. I have no patience for diets. Now is not the time. We need all the comfort food we can get. So home exercise that doesn’t involved being screamed at by a lycra-clad YouTuber is the way forward. After years of being a proud member of gyms I won’t go to, the other week I stumped up for a rowing machine. A fancy one. I’ve already used it. I remain hopeful I will use it twice.
Finally, I remain hopeful you will buy my book. It’s entitled Stan Lee: How Marvel Changed the World, out March 31st. It’s about the man who helped invent some of the world’s most famous comic-book superheroes. But I’ve cunningly written it so you don’t have to be a comic book fan to also find it interesting. It’s a joyous romp through a century of mainstream entertainment – stage, radio, TV, film and online – seen through the life of a man who was at the forefront of popular culture for over seventy years. It’s fun, funny, full of weird trivia, and I hope as fascinating to read as I found it to research and write. You can pre-order now directly from White Owl Books or via Amazon. It’s my first book, but I remain hopeful it won’t be my last.