Column: Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine after all this darkness ends ...
This feels like hell.
Just when we thought Christmas 2021 would feel normal, look normal - heck, even be normal - we find ourselves scrapping plans, downsizing gatherings, and looking into an abyss for any signs of optimism.
We may not be in lockdown, but it sure feels like it.
I guess we’ve forgotten what that short, sharp shock felt like as we were limited to an hour of exercise outdoor, separated from families, and learned to queue to get into Asda.
It feels like we’re only a few steps away from that right now.
Pubs and restaurants are back to table service, theatres and gigs have started to fall like dominos, and now sport has effectively been rendered spectator free for the next three weeks with a cap on attendances at 500 for outdoors, and 200 indoors.
I fear there may be more to come which would take us full circle back to March 2020.
If it feels like groundhog day, that’s because it is.
But this time there is a real sense of despair.
Speak to anyone running a business and they will tell you they’re done - physically, emotionally, financially, mentally beaten.
There is real anger too after being left to dangle as the politicians’ apocalyptic language created a real sense of fear over omicron.
They were told they could continue operating while their customers were told to limit their social contacts.
End result? A slew of no shows and cancellations.
Overnight, people pressed the pause button and stepped back, leaving restaurants with empty tables, theatres with empty seats and gigs with half a crowd.
And all against a backdrop of no financial support.
Those who soldiered on then had to factor in wholescale staff absences as people isolated - a real and growing problem spreading across society – and the costs of all the supplies they had bought in now going to waste.
Little wonder so many have all but given up.
I cannot imagine the sense of desperation businesses must be enduring right at what should have been the busiest time of the year.
This lockdown has been building for days.
The High Street was nowhere near as busy today, and few people seemed to be carrying bags of gifts.
When was the last time you walked past Spoonies on Black Friday and saw any carpet space let alone a cluster of unused tables?Over the last ten days, work has taken me to two theatres, the ice rink and a restaurant, and it was evident that people were staying away.
At the Playhouse in Edinburgh for press night of White Christmas, the foyer was empty.
In a restaurant on Black Friday, the owner was looking at a loss of 800 diners - that is simply unsustainable.
We got through Christmas 2020 with the hope of a return to normality this year - an optimism underlined by return of so much across autumn. It’s the hope that kills you.
My Christmas wish to you is simple - stay safe, and look out for those who are isolated or vulnerable.
Tomorrow there will be sunshine after all this darkness ends.