PERHAPS it was an omen...
Did you know that the phrase ‘annus horribilis’ — Latin for ‘horrible year’ — was 150 years old in 2020?
It was first used by Britain’s Anglican Church to describe the events of 1870, when the Roman Catholic church defined the dogma of papal infallibility, meaning that a Pope could never be wrong on any issue (a bit like my teenage son, then).
Catholics and Protestants used to get hot under their clerical collars about things ike that back in the day.
Of course, 150 years later, in 2020, we had something really horrible to get worked up about, when Covid-19 took away so many lives, and ruined countless others.
We’re now 48 hours into a new year, and the virus remains a real and present danger — so I decided what Cork needed today was an uplifting, optimistic column.
Because, you know something, there is a better than fair chance that 2021 will be an annus mirabilis — Latin for ‘wonderful year’ — for many of us.
There’s so much to look forward to, especially if that pesky virus blows itself out, or the vaccine works. Here’s my 20 reasons to look forward to 2021... some are contingent on Covid being conquered, but others will happen anyway. Happy new year!
1. We should be able to holiday abroad again
After a bit of a wash-out family holiday in Kerry last summer, I’m looking forward to feeling the sun on my back at some stage in 2021.
What I wouldn’t give for a week in the sunny Canaries. Covid- permitting, that day will come.
2. The pubs will reopen
Oh, the joys of idling away an hour or three at a bar on a thirsty afternoon, or meeting a few friends for an evening gargle.
I’ve really missed hearing — and spouting — nonsense, and the sound of spontaneous laughter more than I ever imagined!
3. Bin the masks
A necessary evil for now, of course, and even post-Covid, you suspect a good few people will keep wearing masks to guard against the great unwashed, but the rest of us will be delighted to consign these to the dustbin of history.
4. We will be able to go to see actual sports events again..
...and heaven knows our local teams need our support!
Cork City are facing into an existential threat, while our hurlers and footballers have been in the doldrums for far too long — the odd wonderful result aside. I’m talking about you, Kerry!
And the thought of catching a plane and seeing Manchester City in the Premier League has me drooling in anticipation. Plus, I have a few ideas on team selection I want to share with Pep.
5. Eurovision is back
I felt one of the big missed opportunities last year was the decision to scrap Eurovision. Couldn’t they have linked up to all the capital cities and shown each performance in a way that didn’t breach Covid restrictions?
A captive audience would have loved the party, and the voting would have been easy enough too.
Anyway, the 2021 contest is due to take place in Rotterdam on May 22. Ireland will be in the first semi a few days earlier, with Dublin singer Lesley Roy flying our flag.
Can Ireland win a record eighth time? I very much doubt it, and our song hasn’t even been chosen yet! Call it bitter recent experience...
6. Live music and concerts will be back
The thought of exchanging an earbud or smartphone screen for an actual stage and beholding live music is making me dizzy.
I’m so desperate, I would almost buy a ticket for another Boyzone reunion. Almost...
Synonymous with the damp Irish summer, but it can rain all it likes if this year’s outdoor music festivals come back. And there’s the many brilliant food festivals around Cork too.
8. Heavens above!
Covid or not, we will be treated to a rare celestial sight in Ireland on Thursday, June 10 — a partial eclipse of the sun. From 10.01am to 12.21pm that day, weather permitting, part of the Moon will block out the top part of the Sun.
But if you’re waiting to see a total solar eclipse, you face a hefty wait, 69 years to be precise! And the long-term forecast for that day isn’t great, let me tell you...
9. We have a new university!
Yesterday, Munster Technological University was founded, a coming together of Cork Institute of Technology and IT Tralee. And that’s not something that happens every day, so it’s surely something to rejoice about?
You had to feel sorry for the smallies last Halloween. Not being able to knock on a few doors and scare the neighbours was probably a bigger miss than Santa. Surely it will make a return in 2021?
Is that Covid? No, it’s behind you... what’s the betting the baddie will be a giant virus when this festive tradition returns this year?
12. Lighter evenings all year round?
The much-mooted EU abolition of daylight saving time, meaning the clocks will not need to be changed twice a year, is due to kick in this year.
It could mean lighter evenings sat outside the pub (see No.2!).
13. A feast of soccer
The Euros, cancelled in 2020, are due to go ahead from June 11 to July 11. OK, Ireland aren’t there, but many of you do enjoy seeing a certain near neighbour fall flat on its nose.
14. A lucky year?
In the Chinese system, 2021 is the Year of the Ox, beginning on February 12. The Ox is said to symbolise prosperity and success and it should be a favourable year for economic recovery — just what the doctor ordered.
15. A feast of cinema
We can hopefully finally feel comfortable about returning to the cinema in 2021 — and the delayed James Bond flick No Time To Die is due out on April 2.
The long-awaited sequel to Top Gun is also out in the summer, with new Mission Impossible and Matrix films before the year is out. Get the popcorn in!
16. It’s a jungle out there...
I’m A Celebrity... can return to the Australian jungle, where it belongs.
17. TV heaven
The fourth and final season of Ozark is due to begin streaming on Netflix in 2021, and also the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul. It will be a shame to see these brilliant series go, but we’ll enjoy them while we can.
Oh, and for those like me who can’t abide trash TV, Keeping Up With The Kardashians is bowing out in 2021. Hurrah!
18. Golden age
The postponed Olympics are due to run in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8. Can Cork’s rowers claim gold?
New sports to look forward to this time are surfing, skateboarding, karate, baseball, softball, and sport climbing — when athletes traverse a wall dotted with holds of different shapes and sizes.
19. De Jazz will be back
20. A knock-out event
It must be 15 years since I last watched a boxing bout. They tend to be terribly one-sided affairs — and as for that mixed martial arts nonsense, no thanks.
But the prospect of British heavyweight stars Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury slugging it out in May will even have me reaching for the credit card to watch on Pay Per View. Just don’t give it a starting time of 4am to suit the U.S markets please!