This was the last sketch of 2020, outside Cloud Forest Cafe on D Street, Davis. And in the spirit of 2020, a bird pooped on the page while I was sketching, as if to say, you know what, this year is not done with you yet. At least I presume it was a bird. I was standing underneath a tree, and then plop a big black splat across the page. It was really dark black as well, which makes me think maybe it wasn’t a bird but one of those oily things that trees occasionally plop onto the sidewalk, there are trees here that do that, lots of sticky paths. But it was a direct hit, missing my clothing completely, and leaving thick muck across the page. I wiped it off but was also a little delighted. This will be something to talk about! I thought, happy to have a conversation starter. Also, if the sketch didn’t turn out to be all that, I’d have a ready-made get-out-of-hard-drawing card, plus the actual effect of the black poop (which splattered bluish grey poop artistically across the spread) would make it look really interesting. Unfortunately I did such a good job at cleaning it up (I didn’t want to leave too much of it on there, in case it was diseased, if it was from a crow and I got sick it would be ironic after avoiding covid to get ill from a corvid), that it looks like a brownish smudge now. Still, whether it was a crow or a tree that pooped onto the page, I welcomed it as the last hurrah of twenty-twenty. What a year! I don’t know about you, but I thought 2020 was a little bit shit.
And now it is 2021. I saw online that if Back to the Future was made now, Marty McFly would be travelling back to 1991. 1991! There would be loads of references to jokes about the ridiculous idea of Donald Trump being president some day, and Doc Brown would be asking if Bryan Adams was still number 1. There would be payphones and cassette players. When Marty walks into a 1990s cafe wearing his 2021 clothing, someone would say “hey what’s with the face mask?” And when Marty travelled 30 years into the future to the far-off year of 2051 there would be a news report about Tottenham winning the Premier League (as well as all the usual flying cars. Anyway the point I’m making is that we now live in the future and we used to live in the past when it was the present. Wait no the point is, what seemed like ancient prehistory to us in the 80s and 90s is as far away from us then as the 80s and 90s is to us now. And when you think about it, it’s really even further. Is 1991 closer to 1961 than 2021 is to 1991? I mean, it kind of is. The internet, mobile phones (and not the big brick ones carried by yuppies in 1991), plus lots of other things I’m too lazy to think of. (Tottenham won the FA Cup in both of those years too, so maybe 2021 is our year?) Let’s just say that sounds about right, 1961 and 1991 are closer to each other than 1991 and 2021. Or maybe not, I don’t care that much.
But will 2021 be that different from 2020? 2020 was definitely different to 2019 for example. I did approximately half the amount of drawing in the past twelve months as in the previous, but then 2019 was a bumper year for sketching and travelling. I went to London three times in 2019, but zero in 2020. Right now my calendar says it is 2021, but the president is still that same tiresome person for another few weeks, people are still getting sick and dying, businesses are still closing, we’re still working and schooling from home, the pandemic is still raging as bad as ever, though at least there are vaccines now. 2020, the real 2020, won’t actually stop until we are out of This Whole Thing, in the same way that the ‘real 2020’ didn’t start until mid-March, but then again we might not be back to any sort of normal for a long time yet, so we’ll just keep on keeping on. And Happy New Year, all the same.