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I had a visitor this morning. First time in... since... wow, I don't remember.

So, I had to overcome my innate introversion ("hi, it's-nice-to-see-you-please-leave") and attempt to be sociable. So, a nice table out in the sunshine (it was about 4°C) with some lemon biscuits and chocolates. I knew Alison drinks coffee but wasn't sure which would be best so I got two choices. The obligatory hand gel, and of course, Simon and Garfunkel on the record player for some added ambience.

Attempting to be welcoming.
Attempting to be welcoming.

As it turns out, that record was the first one she ever bought. So a good choice.
We talked about various random things, I geeked out a little but she was polite enough not to say "oh, do be quiet". Then we walked around the land, and Anna was initially wary of this newcomer but soon decided that she was okay. I guess being allowed to sit on a human's shoulders makes that human acceptable in cat logic.

It was a pleasant visit. I'm back to work on the 4th, so I have three days to recharge. ☺

...that's the thing that a lot of people don't get about us introverts. We do not thrive on social interactions. As such, interacting with people can be emotionally draining. It isn't a complaint, I'd happily do the same thing again next week, it's just how we are. And that was one person. So I think it ought to be obvious why introverts are believers in the idea that two is company and three is a crowd.


Amazon parcel

I ordered a Stranger Things calendar. I usually get a few calendars, and this is the first year since perhaps 2011 that I've not had a calendar of scenes of Japan. The problem is, there are maybe 40 or so photos that do the rounds, so after nearly ten years, I think I've seen them in all sorts of combinations.

Anyway, looking at the list of calendars and not feeling terribly inspired, I picked a calendar tied in with the hit series set in the '80s. Well, why not? While it is drawings and designs rather than photos from the series, part of what sold me on it was that it was formatted correctly with Sunday on the right (where it belongs).

Post woman arrived this morning. Said there's a parcel for me. She's looking for it, so I tell her it's a calendar so it ought to be a flat envelope about so big.



A well wrapped calendar.
A well wrapped calendar.

I tore it open in front of her and pulled out the calendar. She burst out laughing and said "they do do that".


The year that was - 2020

Let's face it. 2020 was a shit year.

I said, back at the end of 2016:

  • In twenty years time, assuming we aren't glowing a nifty shade of Simpson Yellow, if there is a pub quiz and the person asking the questions says "In what year...", the answer will be 2016.
2016 wasn't even a lame non-dress rehearsal by the understudies at 5am after a drunken night out, in comparison to the dismal qualities of 2020.

Indeed, 2020 was such a horrorshow that I'm glad mom wasn't around to see it. To think that it may have been her last year of life (had she not died of the medication) would...actually be unthinkable.


  • Australia burned down.
  • A bunch of no-hopers ended their presidential candidacy.
  • Impeachement proceedings against Trump began.
  • People start realising that this "novel coronavirus" might be a bit of a situation.
  • I drive my first thousand kilometres.
  • The UK officially withdraws from the EU, and begins work on an oven-ready negotiation.


  • I recolour this blog in the colours of the EU flag because I'm still a European, just no longer legally an EU citizen.
  • Trump is acquitted (just; 52 vs 48 and 53 vs 47) by people every bit as deranged as he is. Either that or they'd rather have a clueless egotostical crybaby manchild running the country than...a Democrat (scare chord!).
  • This new lurking plague is given a name - COVID-19. Everybody keeps on calling it "Coronavirus" anyway.
  • A yearly assembly of the Christian Open Door Church in Mulhouse spread the as-yet unknown virus all around France. Proof that God loves his flock.
  • The spreading plague causes a stock market crash. If only they knew...
  • Luxembourg makes public transport free (and they're the first and only country in the world to do so).
  • The RISC OS world holds a show in Bristol and livestreams it.
  • That oven-ready deal is still not ready.


  • Italy puts itself into full lockdown because of the unforgiving plague.
    This...probably should have been a warning to everybody else.
  • I get to go to a vide grenier, possibly the only one being held this year. While I'm out, a friend delivers an unwanted ride-on mower. The difference it makes around here is massive.
  • The WHO declares the plague to be an official pandemic.
  • It doesn't take lot for the English speaking world to come up with the world "covidiot".
  • Global stock markets in freefall, and the US places a travel ban on the EU Schengen Area.
  • Shit gets real - Mount Everest is closed!
  • On the 12th, the French President closed all schools and universities (from Monday 16th) until further notice.
  • On the 13th, the French Prime Minister banned gatherings of more than 100 people.
  • On the 14th, he ordered the closure of all non-essential public places, effective from that midnight.
  • On the 15th, France decides to hold their municipal elections "because democracy". Only 40% of the electorate agreed and went to vote, the lowest turnout since 1971.
  • On the 16th, the President came back to announce a mandatory lockdown to start at noon the following day. It was planned to last 15 days. It didn't.
  • But everybody emptied the shelves in the supermarkets. There's no bread, no eggs, no flour, no milk, and no toilet paper. So everybody is clearly going to eat scrambled eggs on toast, and suffer an unpleasant reaction that will need lots of bog roll to clean up.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average hits rock bottom, nukes itself a hole, and keeps on going, to end up with a larger crash than Black Monday in 1929.
  • The Schengen borders are closed.
  • Eurovision is cancelled - the first time in its 64 year history. At least we have an... actually kind of good... film from Will Ferrell (a good Will Ferrell film? what madness is this?)
  • 10,000 people dead and a quarter of a million infected by March 20th. Looking back, that seems like a drop in a bucket.
  • Cherry blossom and nicer weather.
  • India shuts itself down. China slams the door closed.
  • The 2020 Olympics are now rescheduled for the 8th of August 2021.
  • 23,000 deaths and half a million cases. And this is just eight days later.
  • The plane-free sky was lovely.
  • The oven-ready deal is still not ready.


  • A few days later, a million infected.
  • Many other places go into various degrees of lockdown, from the soft to the hard (like France).
  • I pay several hundred to have a "simple cog changed" (requires the engine to be removed). Which then leads to a panic due to numerous oil leaks. Turns out, the wally filled it wrongly (or too much?).
  • China reports that they're now seeing asymptomatic cases.
  • There's also a case of a Malayan tiger at a zoo in NYC.
  • YouTube pledges to remove videos by clueless twats who think that the plague comes from 5G masts. This is following masts set on fire and engineers being threatened in the UK.
  • Japan enters a state of emergency.
  • The Pope livestreams the Easter blessing. Catholics entering the 21st century, at least, in some respects.
  • Trump, instead of having a lockdown, decides instead to suspend WHO funding pending a tantrum investigation.
  • Canada has it's deadliest massacre in modern history just to remind us that asides from Trump and Covid, other stuff happens too.
  • At the end of the month, Facebook decides to remove conspiracy theory rubbish from its targetted advertising. That says all that needs said about why I'm not a Facebook user.
  • The UK is the fifth country to report 20,000 deaths. Don't talk about the US where "my constitutional right to be an asshole" mixed with a failure of sane and coherent leadership meant that... well... I guess it's one way of culling the population.
  • I write the first game of my life, called "VIRUS!". Guess what inspired it.
  • That oven-ready deal? Still cooking.


  • The UK reports the highest plague death toll in Europe.
  • Retroactive testing of samples at a French hospital suggests that the patient was infected with Covid on 27th December, almost a month before the first officially confirmed case. He had not travelled abroad, which suggests the virus was circulating earlier than thought.
  • I sort myself out an actual toolbox. I feel like I've levelled up to the status of "man". All I need now is a garden shed.
  • A black hole is discovered in a star system visible to the naked eye.
  • We're up to four million cases now, a quarter of those in the US.
  • France ends its nearly two month long lockdown.
  • A little after mid-month, we're up to five million cases, with a hundred thousand new cases every day.
  • Brazil overtakes Russia to be the second worst affected country, with President Bolsonaro still watching those rainbow unicorns flying around the sky.
  • Australia, having overcome the fires, has to deal with a "once in a decade" storm on its western coast. It's still less traumatic than what passes for garden wildlife on that continent.
  • #BLM
  • End of May, six million cases. The US passes 100,000 deaths (more than the Vietnam and Korean wars combined).
  • Still waiting for that oven-ready deal.


  • The WHO reports sex cases of Ebola in the DR-Congo, and UNICEF reports five deaths. It's potentially serious, but compared to Covid...
  • The French PM allows cafes, bars, and restaurants to re-open as well as lifting the 100km travel restriction. This didn't apply to Paris.
  • Johnson says that there will be a pathway to UK citizenship for Hong Kong residents who don't want to submit to their Chinese overlords.
  • GPS speedometer C80, reviewed, followed by my unbirthday, and then a review of a strimmer.
  • A week into June, seven million cases. 400,000 deaths.
  • A week later, eight million...
  • A week after that, nine million...
  • Do we have ten? Ten? Ten anybody?
  • Yup, a week further on to end the month with ten million cases. The US is by far the winner with a quarter of those being Americans. And by now, half a million dead. That death toll is globally, but as I write this the death toll in the US alone is 342,577 so it may well become reality.
  • Johnson did turn the oven on, didn't he?


  • France reopened its borders.
  • Philippe resigned as France's PM, to be replaced by Jean Castex, who sounds like a character from Asterix with none of the personality.
  • Russia's leadership persuades voters to allow Russia's leadership to seek to further six year terms (which means potentially until 2036 - and Putin will probably still be wrestling bears as an OAP while Trump will be but an unfortunate footnote in history).
  • Not even a week into July and it's eleven million plague infested zombies.
  • Warrior Nun. Interesting and odd Netflix series with a title to die for.
  • Five days later... 12 million. And, yet, some leaders never got the message about lockdowns. And worse, in some places that were locked down, people went out to protest. Together, not distancing, a lot without masks. WTF?
  • I went to the summer sales. I won't be back to Châteaubriant until mid-December.
  • On the 24th, it was mandatory to wear masks in all indoor public spaces in France. About bloody time.
  • Eagle 80s is taken over by Bauer Radio. That means that in a few months, the stream will shut down (once people get pushed to the new app, and whatever else used the stream) and with it, international streaming will stop so my news and info of the Guildford area will cease. Oh well, it was fun while it worked.
  • A French ballet dancer called Zizi Jeanmaire dies. Zizi?!?!?
  • Where's that oven-ready deal?


  • Lebanon succumbs to an explosion more impressive than many put in films and worse than most non-nuclear bombs could manage, killing 220, leaving a third of a million homeless, and costing something in the order of $12 billion. All because a large amount of ammonium nitrate was stockpiled and badly stored and it went kabluey in a way that reminds people why you don't store stuff like that anywhere near civilian areas.
  • The impressive mushroom cloud captured on video somehow seems like a fitting metaphor for the year.
  • Don't talk to me about brambles...
  • Russia approves the world's first vaccine.
  • Hurricane Laura hits Louisiana with windspeeds of 150mph (~241kph).
  • France recorded a new record for the number of new cases. They made it compulsory to wear masks in public places in Paris.
  • I get a little 7" display, it's the first device I have that works well with the Beagle.
  • I demonstrate how El Reg's linguine measure is wrong.
  • There's a new ball of fur in my life.
  • Since I can sit outside with a Bluetooth keyboard and tablet enjoying the evening, I write nearly an article a day in August.
  • At the end of the month, twenty five million cases.
  • This oven-ready deal is taking longer than being served at McDo.


  • Phosphine (an indicator of microbial life) is detected in the atmosphere of Venus. Of course, anything badass enough to live on a planet with clouds miles thick that rain heavily corrosive acid...should never ever be brought back to Earth.
  • Shinzo Abe, Japan's PM, is replaced.
  • Citroën releases their toy car, the Ami. Fully electric, and a little over six grand which is about half the price of the average new diesel Aixam, and a little over the third of the price of an electric Aixam.
  • Midmonth, thirty million cases.
  • I take some compiled ABC apart to poke around 'under the hood'.
  • Already a year. Time flies.
  • Endmonth (I just made that word up, it fits), one million deaths.
  • Oven-ready? Come on, this is ridiculous.


  • New Caledonia votes against independence from France.
  • Paris followed Marseille in closing its hospitality sector. The government said there wouldn't be a second lockdown in France.
  • Jacinda Ardern, one of the few 'nice' politicians in existence, wins a landslide second term.
  • I take apart Arthur and RISC OS 2 to figure out how the MEMC page tables work. Only 33 years late.
  • The Falkland Islands are declared free of all the landmines placed in the war back in '82.
  • Regions of France with a worrying rise in cases went into 9pm-6am curfew on the 14th.
  • There's water on the Moon. NASA spots a tap that was accidentally left running during the last Lunar excursion, which eventually filled up the Clavius Crater.
  • On the 22nd, more regions of France went into curfew.
  • France goes back into lockdown on the 30th, to last at least until 1st December. This is a softer lockdown. People can still go to work, kids can still go to school. It all seems rather pointless then.
  • Still waiting on any deal. Forget oven-ready, even raw would be acceptable right now.


  • The US exits the Paris Agreement on climate change, as crybaby manchild seems intent on exiting as many international agreements as possible.
  • Maybe because Trump lost and wants to cause as much carnage as possible on the way out, like brainwashing a lot of his more radical supporters into believing that the electoral process working as it should is somehow "stealing" the election.
  • We're up to 50 million zombies now. And since a lot of Republicans went and queued up in person, many with their priorities set to "wearing a firearm" rather than "wearing a mask", I'm sure we'll be able to add a lot of them to the zombie list soon. Hell, if they're Republicans, they're halfway to being zombies anyway, what with being completely vacant upstairs.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech have a successful phase three trial of their vaccines.
  • The Sputnik V (which is a vaccine, not a spacecraft!) is shown to be 92% effective.
  • Moderna's mRNA vaccine is shown to be 94.5% effective. It's also one of the better vaccines simply because it can be stored using ordinary freezer equipment and doesn't need the ultra-cold storage of the others.
  • Pfizer/BioNTech complete their trials. Of course, they claim it's 95% effective. It's like comparing processor clock speeds, isn't it?
  • AstraZeneca-Oxford's vaccine is shown to be 70% effective (first dose) or 90% effective (after a second dose). Like Moderna, it doesn't require special ultra-cold storage.
  • Maradonna dies. He wasn't that old, was he?
  • A year of Felicity, and nearly ten thousand kilometres. Already.
  • The Banque Postale app is updated (update obligatory) with one that doesn't work. I uploaded a video of the problem on the 8th of December, and emailed a link. It's not been watched as of today.
  • 60 million infested zombies. It's approximately half a million a day.
  • No deal, oven-ready or otherwise. With the usual hardliners saying that no deal is how it should be.


  • The UK is the first to approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
  • 65 million zombies, 1.5 million corpses.
    Shockingly, Covid has caused more deaths in 2020 than tuberculosis in 2019 - yet we don't hear about tuberculosis deaths other than "it was a thing in the old days".
  • In other news - China and Nepal both finally agree that Everest's height is 8,848.86 metres. That's a lot of eights.
  • The EU agrees to reduce greenhouse emissions by 55% over the next decade. How they plan to, is another question.
  • Russia begins mass innoculation with Sputnik.
  • The UK is the first country to begin mass innoculations with a tested vaccine.
  • America and Canada follow.
  • The EuroMillions jackpot is €200,000,000. It rolls over a few times until somebody wins. Not me.
  • France lifts the second lockdown on the 14th. Everybody is still under an 8pm to 6am curfew.
  • I go to Châteaubriant for the first time since July. The supermarket there has changed. A lot.
  • The UK gives the world an EU parting present - a new highly infectious strain of Covid. Everybody slams their borders shut...again.
    And in the UK, France closing it's border provokes anger and outrage despite the past four years of trauma and chaos being, in large part, the UK's wish to be able to close its own borders without the EU saying they can. You know, like France just did...
  • The Great Conjuction where Saturn and Jupiter make out. Of course, a passing storm made it cloudy for the day and either side.
  • I impulse buy a record player.
  • Through the month, in odd times, I write a clone of Arthur to run on DOS. Why? Search me. Something to do to keep me from Netflix and the box of chocolates, I guess.
  • The EU and UK agree to a free trade agreement. Over one and a half thousand pages, and MPs get a day or two to read it and a few hours of debate.
    Most parties pass it because it's so bloody late that failure to pass it would result in a crash out. An utter shambles of governance, and most people polled don't feel that the agreement is beneficial to the UK or respects (m)any of the promises made prior to the referendum.
  • Pierre Cardin dies.
  • The French government has decided that the way to beat the unforgiving plague is to ban the sale of alcohol after 4pm.
  • Parts of the east of the country at going to go into a more severe curfew, from 6pm to 6am. Rinse and repeat?
  • The UK has left the EU. The transition period has now expired. Everybody who brought this to being, please go fuck yourselves (except Rees-Mogg, you sir can go pleasure a leather bound copy of the King James that has an appropriately sized hole drilled through it).


I would like to say "thank <Deity$Name> that this year is finally over", but this is tempered with the knowledge that things are not normal, they probably won't be normal for a long time, and the economic damage may end up with consequences for many people. Already there have been many job losses due to Covid, a lot of high street names folding and small businesses closing. Add to that the damage of Brexit.
I can't say that I feel there are things to celebrate about the end of 2020.

But, hey, at least I can decline meetings and such by saying I'm socially distancing, and be seen as some sort of hygiene hero rather than an outcast.
2020 - the year introverts ruled!


Final pictures of the year

Myself and a co-worker at a little Christmas thing that the workers committee put on. That my jumper exactly blends in is just co-incidence. Clearly a social distancing fail, but since she's the one who hugged me, it seemed a bit pointless worrying about such things now. ☺

Mother Christmas!
Mother Christmas!

My final day at work. With a penguin jumper, santa hat, and Christmas themed face mask. The bright orange gizmo is something I use for cleaning the floors. You don't think I scrub the tiles with a toothbrush do you? Had a life's fill of that sort of rubbish at boarding school...

My final day at work.
My final day at work.


Well, that's it.

Have a nice New Year, and I hope next year will be better.

It'd be hard to be wor.... wait... DON'T SAY IT!

Just say...






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Zerosquare, 1st January 2021, 04:24
Happy New Year, Rick! 
Since you mention record players, did you see that recent video? It's pretty interesting, and the comments are too:
David Pilling, 1st January 2021, 23:13
"The WHO reports sex cases" I thought Keith Moon was back. 
Interesting to read the above, I'd forgotten about some things. I doubt the people involved will have forgotten. We could add floods in the UK to the start of the year, wonder what happened to those people. 
My best wishes for the New Year.

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