Reflections on 2021

Reflecting on the past year isn’t necessarily straightforward with Covid-19 still looming. A year to the day after my son, my youngest daughter tested positive—her grandmother joking that as competitive as she might be with her brother, this was perhaps taking matters somewhat too far. Thankfully she has been one of the lucky ones, enduring her isolation symptom free.

Remaining on the subject of Covid, discussions of it has ultimately divided communities. That my children (who are all adults with the capacity to make their own decisions) took their vaccinations branded me in support of child murder on my social media earlier this year. This was by someone I’d considered a friend. They trolled my Facebook account several times and now find themselves blocked because of our differing opinion. Personally, I’d accepted theirs but as I was unwilling to conform to their way of thinking which meant they perceived I wasn’t entitled to my capacity. How has a virus—plus the added media hype and political propaganda—allowed such division to emerge among ourselves?

It’s been a year of personal battle but that makes my writing more authentic. I’d planned to release a book on living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder this year, but as I worked through beating it into submission again, decided to dig deeper and make it something a little more special. Writing through this time of crisis has now formed the second ‘SOUL’ book which mixes both lived experience and science to form what I hope will be a detailed explanation on why and how PTSD can have such a profound effect on life—not just your own but for your family too. There’s nothing better than celebrating, and as odd as it might seem I do celebrate the date of my assault and in April it will be eight years survived. Soul Searching: To Hell and Back Twice will be released on my eight years survived anniversary!

My youngest and I hid away in strict isolation during the first lockdown (for we are both considered vulnerable) and much to everyone’s dismay we didn’t come the second. She returned to visiting her father and I went to work. Dave and I are lucky in that what both of us do allows us to travel throughout the UK and with the country free of traffic we captured sunrises and sunsets that were more spectacular that we’d ever seen. Wildlife seemed to take over our verges and multiply through these quiet times—the motorways a sudden haven for species not usually seen in these locations. Our cameras came with us and at every opportunity we captured images (for me that was often while Dave was driving).

Many of our images have been shared online but there’s a secret stash we’ve kept back for our project. Although this will take a lot more researching and photographing, we’re really excited about what we started and the idea we stumbled upon quite by accident really. As a couple we’re so lucky to share a variety of unusual and quirky interests—and in all honesty it is how we met.

As this year progressed, and places reopened, we ventured out out. It saw us putting on some posh clobber and attending a film premier—Dave was even in it! I’ve lost count how many there are (I think five) and Dave has been in two. It was lovely to catch up with a few of our friends at The Rise of The Foot Soldier film showing. It’s a franchise that’s done well for itself—I’ll be talking about the first film in my first blog of 2022 as part of my “Meeting Carlton” feature. We went clubbing in Leicester Square afterwards as that’s what the ‘Essex Boys’ (as they became known as) were partly about. I’d already said to Dave that we were getting a bit old for all that (and I was most definitely right)! Watch films (2 to end) with the knowledge they're not historically factual for screenwriters and novelists twist stories--its known as literary licence.

We’ve met up with some amazing people this year, I’m not going to name everyone as I’ll miss folk out. To all at Linda Calvey’s book signing, Eddie Richardson, Carlton Leach and family, Steve Wraith and all at your documentary premier (Robbie Clear it was great to meet you) and especially to Maureen Flanagan Cox--it’s been an honour to spend time in your company.

To author friends I’ve bumped into again, and met for the first time at Levi Perry’s private gig, David P Perlmutter and Chris Dolan, Jane and Daisy, it truly was a great evening. As for you, Levi, meeting you was the most special moment for I’m truly blessed to have you in my life.

Covid still impacts all our lives. For me I’m missing my trips to Scotland, where I stay with my cousin, Emma. I’ve not been since 2019. There’s a lot of wiring to be done up there one way or another and I’m missing her and the rest of the family tremendously. Here’s hoping next year brings better news for us all. With my children now living in four different counties, the time we all spend together is minimal. Hopefully Christmas brings us all together (its only four days away but as we all know nothing is guaranteed these days). It would be such a blessing to have all of us in one room, with my parents--that would be a memory to treasure.

Despite the fact that being an Essex country lass will always be a large part of who I am, Essex is no longer my home. I’ve become a bit of a townie and, arguably, Emma would say that happened a little while ago. For those that don’t know, back in 2007 when my children and I first settled down in what would become our home for fourteen years, we knew that once my youngest moved away to university I would be moving. We thought that would be alone and up North somewhere. Instead, I met Dave. I have to be careful how I word this bit—life has moved me South instead (life hasn’t gone south). Rather than hours away, I’m just fifty miles from where I was—or fifty shades south (but that would make the kids cringe).

Thank you for supporting my writing and the blog. From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe and see you in 2022.

by Donna Siggers