I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always thought that trying to change your life dramatically with a new direction or new diet on 1 January was simply setting yourself up to fail. But, like everyone else, I can’t help thinking about the year ahead and what it might bring. So here are five things I’d like to see in 2022:
1. An end to COVID. Well, of course, there won’t ever be a complete end to COVID, however tired we all are of it. But having seen, on the one hand, that half of Europe is inevitably going to catch the virus this winter and, on the other, that for the majority of us – vaccinated up to the eyeballs as anyone with a brain and who doesn’t have a good reason not to be jabbed is – the effect of catching the disease now a mild case of the sniffles, I wonder whether the time hasn’t come to dismantle all the paraphernalia we’ve constructed around the virus, except for the protection of the most vulnerable. I don’t think anyone would be sorry to see the back of all the tests, quarantines, restrictions, postponements and cancellations, not to mention those horrible masks. We’ll know it’s over when they stop counting – because who ever counted cases of the common cold – and when we go back to saying simply, as we used to every winter: “There’s a lot of it about!”
2. A return to the UK. Mostly because of COVID, I haven’t had a proper trip back to my home country for more than two years. The last time I was there was in the summer of 2020, tiptoeing through the COVID restrictions to be with my mother in her last days, but my last really enjoyable trip was in November 2019. I would love to go back this year, to see my remaining family. But that won’t be until the current demands for COVID tests and quarantines – requirements that have varied wildly and unpredictably over the past two years – have been completely lifted. I simply can’t afford to make lots of arrangements that could be blown away in a moment if I, my wife or my son happen to fail a COVID test. Even if this happens, things are going to be very different from the last time we were there – and much more complicated. Following the final implementation of Brexit, it seems as if I will need an international driving licence to hire a car. We will all also need health insurance because our European health cards will no longer be valid. Who knows what other difficulties the idiots who voted for this nonsense will have placed in our path?
3. A return to in-person translation events. COVID also put paid to in-person translation events – and online ones are just not the same. So in 2022 I’m really hoping that “proper” conferences will be back. On the calendar there seem to be plenty to choose from – or at least there seem to be at the moment. The problem is the current uncertainty over the situation with the virus, because after all that’s happened over the past two years I’d rather plan to stay at home than book something that has to be cancelled at the last minute. Certainly for the moment, it feels a little hasty arranging to go anywhere in the first half of the year. As well as the events themselves, travel and countries’ entry requirements are another factor making it difficult for me to plan to go to the ITI conference in Brighton, for example. So that makes it likely that my first in-person event of the new era will be METM22 in San Sebastián in October. This won’t involve travelling outside the country where I live, Mediterranean Editors and Translators has always been a favourite organisation of mine and I have lots of friends there. I can’t wait!
4. More cultural tourism and wine translations. Reviewing my business statistics for last year, I was struck by the relatively small percentage of work I’d done within my specialist areas. It’s not surprising really. Tourism’s been all-but destroyed by the pandemic and there will only be work in that area when people feel confident that foreign visitors are going to be able to arrive in reasonable numbers. I’ve still had plenty of work overall (in fact the pandemic hasn’t harmed my income at all, either in 2020 or 2021) but much of it’s been in other – often less interesting – areas. So for 2022 I’d like to see more projects of the right kind from old or new clients – I shall be doing what I can to find them.
5. Lots of posts on Instagram. As of 1 January, I’m on Instagram. I’d never really thought there was much in it for translators, but towards the end of last year it suddenly struck me that it was an ideal place to combine the personal and the professional, posting photos of the places I go and the wines I drink, with the possibility of attracting the attention of potential new clients. And what better time to start than the beginning of a new year? So I’ve been posting for a couple of weeks now and I’m gradually collecting more followers, some of whom seem to be people who at least might require translations in my specialist areas. What I’m hoping is that, if they ever do, they will think of my pictures and my genuine interest in the areas they work it. We shall see if it’s a successful approach. But even if it isn’t, at least I’ll be doing something enjoyable that doesn’t take a great deal of time. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m #simonjberrill. See you there!
*The picture for this post is one of my first Instagram photos – a sunrise over the sea in Badalona, where I live.