Alcohol. When Cyclone Covid blew into town at the beginning of the year, a lot of us reached for our favourite drinks (unless you liked Corona beers) for comfort. Looking back, we may have done this with a little too much gusto but hey, it was a scary time. And it was also a time some of us re-assessed our relationship with alcohol, and decided we were better off without it.
Bunnings snags. I have a theory (let’s call it the “Bunnings barometer”): if the hardware-store chain cancels its iconic car-park sausage sizzles, then your state is having a wave of Covid-19. It’s the bellwether for Covid success or failure. On the nation’s first ride on the ’rona-coaster they were one of the first things to go; they heralded Sydney’s status of near-normality in September; and their return was the proverbial cherry on the cake (or icing on the doughnut?) when Victoria conquered its second wave. Seriously, if you want to know how your state’s going in the fight against this virus, don’t read the news, just follow Bunnings on socials for snag updates.
Comfy pants. This was a bad year for jeans. Denim historians will write about jean history in epochs: BC (Before Covid) and AD (After Denim). That’s how rough jeans and their cronies (chinos and tailored trousers) have had it this year. Comfy pants – tracksuits, cords, leggings et al – are having a real moment that’s not even close to over. If you’re antsy about the prospect of returning to the office in “hard pants”, we’ve got you covered. Still isolating but a bit bored of señor trackie dak? Here are some fun options to try.
Discounted seafood. In March, shortly after the Australian economy went into an induced coma, food suppliers for the country’s best restaurants – many of whom had never sold to the public – had to start finding different ways to sell their amazing (and ludicrously marked-down) produce. Twenty kilos of caviar offloaded; sashimi-grade tuna available in supermarkets; Sydney rock oysters, complete with shucking knife, delivered across Australia. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It was great for us punters, but it also served as a reminder of all of the businesses – farmers, growers and more – that rely on the health of our hospitality industry.
Elbows. From being one of the body’s most under-the-radar parts (even knees, the elbows of the leg, get more attention) to becoming the star vessel of the elbow bump – everyone’s favourite Covid-safe high five/handshake hybrid – elbows have had a real rags-to-riches journey this year; it’s been a joy to watch. Great job, elbows. Keep up the good work.
Fitness. Can you miss what you’ve never had? That’s the question many of us asked ourselves as the waves of life shipwrecked our New Year’s fitness resolutions against the jagged cliffs of reality, far sooner than we expected. If you were fortunate or disciplined enough to stay in shape in this bizarro year, hats off to you. If you didn’t, take solace in the fact that “there was a once-in-a-century pandemic” is as good an excuse as you’ll ever have for not following through on your goals.
Groundhog Day. No film sums up life in 2020 like this Bill Murray classic, which involves one man living the same day over and over (sound familiar?). Except for the fact that this year has been criminally devoid of comic shenanigans and romantic hijinks – for me, at least. Life in lockdown has been one big, blurry slog, where days bleed into weeks into months. But finally, we’ve made it to the end of the year, team. Oh Punxsutawney Phil, why didn’t you warn us about what was in store for us?
Home cooking. Even the most enthusiastic home cooks are running out of steam at this stage. We’ve done the celebrity chef cooking videos, tried (and failed) to bake sourdough, and even convinced ourselves that finish-at-home takeaway is basically cooking (it’s not). It took a year like this for me to fully realise that cooking 21 meals for myself a week, even planning them out, is a lot of effort.
Iso babies. Look, I get it. You were at home with your significant other. You were both bored and scared. A bit of pandemic nookie was inevitable. Now, we’re all expecting a big influx of iso babies (conceived in the passionate throes of lockdown rumpy pumpy) in, oh – I don’t know – January? Feburary? Whatever’s nine months after Bunnings snags were first called off (see B).
Jigsaw puzzles. Scomo called them essential and they were sold out everywhere. We started them, we got stuck, we did not complete them, we abandoned them. For a hot minute, puzzles were everywhere. I even interviewed a competitive puzzler for tips. Then pubs reopened, and we all put them away.
Karens. Whether they were tired of walking around Brighton or wouldn’t wear a mask at a Bunnings (I promise this article is not sponsored by Bunnings), the Karens of Australia have had one heck of a year. Take one pandemic, add a splash of lockdown, a dollop of boomer energy and a pinch of conspiracy theory and you’ve got yourself a live Karen: 2020’s breakthrough meme.
Live lists. Time to get on my soapbox for a minute: I have spent the past year of my life creating and updating Broadsheet’s live lists in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. I’ve been there for every gutting closure, hopeful reopening and takeaway pivot under the sun. (Sidebar: let’s never say the word pivot again? Sound good?). They’ve consumed so much of my soul that I’ve probably got horcruxes in a few of them. So if you’ve benefitted from one of our live lists – which were among our most-read pieces this year – and you see me on the street, how about an appreciative nod or a playful elbow bump to say thanks? I would like that very much.
Megxit. Yep, believe it or not, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping back from the Royal Family actually happened this year. “This is huge,” I remember thinking at the time. Turns out, it was not huge. I only remembered it split seconds before I passed out to The Crown last night. They really nailed Diana, didn’t they?
Nat’s What I Reckon. Could it be anyone else? In April, Australia was captivated by this Sydney comedian (who, it turns out, is a very adept cook) and his hilarious, expletive-laced iso recipes. Come for the sweary crusade against jar sauces, stay for the spag bol tips.
Overly optimistic holiday plans. You fools. You absolute bloody fools. You and everyone in your group chat actually thought you had a chance at an overseas holiday this year, didn’t you? Looked at cheap flight deals, sent each other links to cute Airbnbs? We were so young, so naïve. We just didn’t know. Perspective is a funny thing – if you had told me in February that I’d be spending six months fantasising about a weekend on the South Coast, I’d have laughed in your face. Now? Tathra Beach Motor Village may as well be a resort on Kuta Beach.
Panic buying. There are two types of people in Australia: those who panic-bought supplies, and liars. Just kidding, sort of. Look – it was a spooky time, and I guess we all learned this year that in moments of crisis, us Aussies really like to wipe our bums and cook pasta. I never went full-blown doomsday prepper, but to my shame there are still a few jars of pesto and rolls of white gold tucked safely under my bed, should the need ever arise.
QR codes. These things have always looked daggy – like a reject Space Invader or something – but now, they’re totally ubiquitous: the foot soldiers of a Covid-safe hospitality industry. Who’d have thunk it? Well done, QR codes.
Remember when the country was on fire earlier this year? This also happened in 2020, and it was awful. It’s a reminder that, even before this pandemic, Australia had already changed indelibly this year. Swathes of the country are still recovering from the fires; let’s make sure we help them however we can.
Side hustles. A partial silver lining to the record unemployment and redundancy experienced across Australian society this year is that we saw all kinds of innovative side projects, especially food-related ones. Stood-down chefs were delivering ramen, hand-making pasta and selling curry out of their apartments. And a lot of people, bored at home, finally started that novelty Instagram account nobody – and I do mean absolutely nobody – asked for. My favourites include this man ranking items he found around the house and this muesli review account. Necessity (or boredom) is the mother of invention.
Tiger King. Tiger King was never really about Tiger King. It was about having something bonkers to watch to take your mind off things. It was about quoting things to your mates and getting to make Carole Baskin memes. Hearing the words “Tiger King” now teleports me to that wild time in mid-March, when everything was turbulent and Tom Hanks had just gotten Covid-19.
US election. I’m not trying to alienate the MAGA supporters who read Broadsheet (do you exist?), but thank goodness the election went the way it did. Especially off the heels of the renewed Black Lives Matter movement – arguably the most consequential anti-racist demonstrations this century, both in the US and closer to home. As if enough weren’t already happening in 2020, the universe just had to go ahead and throw in a nailbiting season finale to the Trump presidency. When it rains, it truly pours.
Vicarious living. We’re all gossip-starved, and I’m devouring even the slightest rumours at this point. If even a drop of tea is spilled somewhere, I’ll be there. But I’ve also been living vicariously through the feeds of non-locked-down friends or, hell, even just by looking at old photos of better times.
WFH. Being able to work from home is a luxury, no two ways about it. Those of us who can do it are lucky. But man, it is boring. The novelty has worn off. I’m craving small talk. Can someone please talk to me about the weather?
Xanax. We could all do with a prescription right now.
Yet. As in, “Is this year over yet?”
Zoom. I mean, it had to be, right? I’ll know this pandemic’s over for good the day the Zoom drink invites dry up. Until then, see you on there. I’ll be the guy with the fun background.