Everyone is making a great effort to be cheerful and positive today, and we really need that. Thank you. But my own impulse is to go on mute, at least for a while.

2020 was hard work for so many people — those labouring to save us, those who made sure we were fed, protected, and provided for, those who helped raise our spirits. I cannot begin to thank you all. And I send my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those, including members of my own family, who perished along the way.

New Year’s Day is usually a time of quiet reflection and evaluation for me, and today is no different. This morning I looked back on my diary for this day last year and see it was full of good intentions for changes that, in the end, never happened.

I won’t make a list of resolutions this year. Instead, I will try to act where I can and do my best to make a contribution. But, privately, I’m going to go on pause for a little while. It may last just a few days, or weeks, or even months. I don’t know yet. But in the meantime, I wish us all — the whole world — some safety, some quiet relief, and the collective strength to survive and rebuild together.

About the image

In July 2020 I responded to a call from the artist Anita Dalkin for people to send photographs of themselves in masks. She used them to paint portraits for her project Covid Warriors, a bid to encourage people to put others first by wearing a face-covering. At the time I didn’t own a proper mask, just this multi-coloured scarf. I think this is a beautiful portrait and I’m very grateful to Anita for recording that moment in my life. Plus, of course, I hope it encourages you to wear a mask and protect others.