New year message: I never need an excuse to get my bagpipes out

Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

I don’t think many of us will look back on 2020 as the best year of our lives but at least with progress on a Covid vaccine and the end of Trump in the White House, the year ended better. 

There is still Brexit though and I remain as convinced as ever it is the worst act of national self harm in our history.  

On the positive side there has been a lot going on locally to make us feel more optimistic. It was great to see the Royal Free taking part in the vaccination programme.

The NHS has risen to the challenge yet again and the whole area came out week after week to thank NHS staff, carers and public services with the Thursday night clapping in the first lockdown.

Alastair Campbell at Parliament Hill Lido, which remains closed. Picture: Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell at Parliament Hill Lido, which remains closed. Picture: Alastair Campbell - Credit: Archant

I never need an excuse to get my bagpipes out and I enjoyed piping our next door neighbour, nurse Sissy Bridge, up the street when her return home at the end of her double shift at the Whittington coincided with the Thursday night clapping . 

If only the government could thank them with a decent pay rise to go with the claps outside Number 10 and Number 11.  

Still with the NHS, our GP service at Park End Surgery has done an amazing job switching most of its work online and any interaction I’ve had with them has been smooth, efficient and caring.  

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I also want to thank everyone who works on Hampstead Heath which has been more important to us than ever. 

My Tree of the Day contest on twitter and Instagram took on a life of its own and most of the winners came from the Heath! We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful place on our doorstep. 

A shout out too for Paul Jeal and his team at Parliament Hill Lido. Last year was the first when I swam through the whole winter and when it was suddenly taken away from us I realised how important it had become to my physical and mental health. 

They adapted brilliantly to the many challenges Covid threw at them, though with the water temperature down to five degrees right now I look at the closed poolside sauna with greater longing than ever. May it’s re-opening be one of the many joys of 2021! 

  • Alastair Campbell is a writer and strategist, and was prime minister Tony Blair's director of communications.

READ MORE: Alastair Campbell on Boris Johnson, coronavirus, Keir Starmer and the NHS

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