2021: What Got Us Through
With the turbulence of 2021 behind us, its the perfect time to look back, reflect and wonder how we managed to get through it. The confusion of restrictions being lifted and re-instated, of never knowing what the next week will bring, left us all needing a safety net to get us through it. The one thing we would turn back to because we knew that getting lost in it would make everything else seem tolerable. Today some of the ROPES team members are sharing the little indulgences and obsessions that got them through 2021.
Joyce’s Real Housewives remedy:
When my Dad, the ruler of the TV remote, started working late shifts during the lockdown, my mother, sister and I could indulge in the TV that he wouldn’t have put up with - The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. We watched women in extravagant outfits throw drinks, lie to each other, recover from addiction, and sometimes go on trial for embezzlement. And of course, the ridiculousness of this likely made us forget about the worries of our own lives. Often, an episode would be followed by a debriefing session where we would decide whose side we were on and what we would have said in any given argument - we were completely drawn in by the spectacle of it all.
I often hear people categorise television in two ways; shows that they think are genuinely good, and shows they watch because their brain can’t tackle anything that requires much of them. During a draining 2021, I think the latter has grown more popular. But I also think it’s possible for a TV show to straddle both categories. Reality TV knows its place as a provider of comedy, lavishness, and drama and if it achieves what it sets out to, like The Real Housewives franchise has done, then you can’t deny its value. The Real Housewives has created characters and storylines that, to me, are comparable with the television greats. I have never encountered a better villain than Lisa Rinna or a better underdog than Kim Richards. If you have seen the Amsterdam dinner party scene, you know it’s comparable to Shakespeare. And Lisa Vanderpump’s Season 5 tagline; “Throw me to the wolves and I shall return leading the pack” should have received an award. The show is unapologetic and uncompromising and demands to be taken seriously within its genre.
I no longer live with my family but we still discuss The Real Housewives at length together. During a difficult year, the show brought me much needed comfort and laughs, drama when my life was lacking in it, and something to get excited about with friends and family who loved it too. It also made me into a staunch advocate of reality TV. Clearly.
Liam’s MARVELous movie obsession:
So, celebrity culture is kind of terrible. I know what type of cereal Adele eats every morning. Joe Rogan has stolen all of my friends and he won’t give them back. Chet Hanks terrifies me. Celebrities are a blight. I hate them.
But – and there’s always a but…
I don’t know Mr Garfield personally, but do I love him? Yes.
Do I kind of wish we were best friends? Also yes.
The pandemic has changed me. And not in an interesting way. I came out of this lockdown with no cool new hobbies. I’m terrible at carpentry (Andrew can build rocking chairs), I still don’t know how to play the piano (Andrew plays beautifully), and I’m still the same height (Andrew is taller than me if you include the hair).
Some people worked on themselves during the pandemic. I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 26 times. Do you want to know what I watched last night? The Amazing Spider-Man. That was a stupid question. You already knew the answer.
I’ve never been great at expressing my feelings, but I decided to write a poem which I hope articulates my obsession (that’s a very strong word, maybe I’ll change that to ‘fondness’) a bit better.
Shall I compare thee to summer’s day?
Except you have hair
Really nice hair
I think I want to be you
How does your hair do that?
I don’t know how this happened. I don’t want to be obsessed with him, but I am. And I know some of you are too, you little freaks.
But you know what, after everything that’s happened over the last two years, we deserve our happiness wherever we can find it, we deserve a bit of light in all this darkness. We deserve Andrew Garfield
Yashika’s tea treatment:
My secret to happiness is made of four things: milk, water, sugar and leaves. Chai, my companion through times rough and smooth. No matter what mood I am in, a cup of adrak-wali-chai (ginger tea) will clear all the fuzz out of my brain and make life peaceful and calm. It is almost like meditation for me now. There is something so reassuring about the fact that everything in my life can change in an instant, but chai will be beside me through it all.
Megan’s bookish break:
Last summer, with the help of an amazing friend who is always on call with book recommendations, I read the fantasy trilogy Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab. She knew I was going to devour these books. I grew up on this genre, living in magical worlds, but I hadn’t visited in a long time.
Diving into the parallel Londons and getting to know would-be-pirate Lila, and morally-conflicted Kell and the rest of Schwab’s brilliantly painted characters brought me back to a special kind of joy. It got me to go back to my reading roots and allowed me to fully escape into another time and place for a while without holding back.
Apart from the beauty of the book itself, there is that specific bond you develop with a friend who gives you a book and lets you unapologetically text them scores of messages whenever something shocking or racy or hilarious happens. At those times, I felt acutely the significance of the books writers gift us and the friends who bring them to our attention.
Isabel’s Love Island getaway:
In June, most of my friends and I finished our undergrads. Soon after, a lot of them moved away. We went from being together in little Galway for four years, terminally involved in each other's lives, to being splintered across Europe. Only a couple of us remained here and we - the stragglers - found ourselves stuck for things to do, not knowing how to spend the long, bright evenings now that we could no longer bask in the act of simply being surrounded by company. Only one thing was capable of patching up our loneliness and bittersweet independence, and that was Love Island. Each night, we would rush home from our service industry jobs, stopping in Spar on the way to pick up an overpriced bottle of craft beer, and hop on the couch just in time to hear Virgin Media’s 9 pm answer to the Angelus: Ian Stirling saying “TONIGHT, ON LOVE ISLAND”. Being able to sit down for an hour every night to hear British twenty-somethings say the same thing over and over again, watching them lick their wine glasses so that their lipstick wouldn’t leave a mark, and wondering if any of them were having a sneaky cigarette off-camera released enough dopamine to numb the strangeness of that summer for me. This year, when I’ll have finished my MA and when even more of my friends will have left this town for good, I can’t wait to use the show as a coping mechanism all over again.