Death of the Old Year

Tennyson’s Death of the Old Year was bubbling over with gaiety and the last verse, reproduced below, is the most foreboding verse of all. The Old Year on its death-bed was personified as having been a great 365/6 days in which to have lived, at least for the narrator. “He was full of joke and jest.” “We did so laugh and cry with you,/ I’ve half a mind to die with you,/ Old year, if you must die.”

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1832)

Yet there was something almost sinister in the coming of the New Year. Its approach could be interpreted as being a darkly apprehensive event, as though a price is about to be paid for having had such a great time the year before. “There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,/ And a new face at the door. . .” The New Year takes on the guise of a total stranger about to step into the shoes of a very recently-departed loved one.

2020 might appear to have been a most miserable year dominated by the grizzly shadow of COVID-19 deaths. How bad were they really?

You may be surprised to learn that according to the ONS (Office of National Statistics) figures for overall deaths are not so disastrously worse than other years. The graph below is the latest issued and obviously does not take us quite to the end of 2020. The peak in April covers the period when people, mostly old people, were being sent from hospital to care homes to spread COVID-19 among other residents, while others were being murdered on (DNS) life-support ventilators.

Despite all the government panic these figures are only slightly worse than they were thirty years ago. Take a look at this graph, also from the Office of National Statistics, covering the years 1990 – 2019.

In 1993 the total number of deaths, male and female combined, was 578,512. In 2019 it was 530,841 In 2011 it had been as low as 484,367. Last year was an anomaly in that male and female deaths were almost the same and there had been a fall to the lowest combined total death count since 2016. The year 2020 already has more deaths registered (to 11 December) than in 1993. But not that much more.

Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths up to 11 December 2020 was 579,491, which is 67,864 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 11 December 2020, 72, 546 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 12.5% of all deaths in England and Wales.

The big culprit in the overall death figure comes from the time when this man-made virus was introduced here towards the end of March. As this blog has persistently maintained the problem is not the virus. The problem is the introduction of control mechanisms which are killing people. What 2021 needs is for people to say no to strictures, no to panic-driven scenarios, no to testing and, should they choose, no to vaccines.

Then perhaps we can say of the New Year:

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
 A jollier year we shall not see.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. Stay positive. 2020 was the bad year. Don’t let them give us another.


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