Anyone feel they are living in Groundhog Day?

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DO you hear it? That whooshing sound is my sigh of relief. See-ya January. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. It is February 1 tomorrow. Meaning that the most dreary, grey and soul-sapping month of the year is almost over.

“Ah, but will February be any better?” I hear you ask. “We are still lumbering on in lockdown limbo.” You make a good point. However, February does have Shrove Tuesday. As much as I enjoy a big plate of haggis, neeps and tatties on Burns Night, I relish a towering stack of pancakes even more.

My mother is a dab hand at making pancakes. I have a supply in the freezer, ready to be thawed and slathered in maple syrup, whipped cream, bananas and ice cream (a prep method borrowed from 1980s hot spot The Pancake Place at Shandwick Place in Edinburgh – they called it “The Alaskan”).

 Susan Swarbrick’s Week: I definitely need to find a new hobby

This year Shrove Tuesday falls on February 16. Two days after Valentine’s Day. Which is a greenlight for a run of indulgence, no matter how you see it. Although the less said about Valentine’s Day, the better. I’m a sucker for romance but the rampant commercialisation sticks in the craw.

Ash Wednesday on February 17 marks the beginning of Lent. Now, as much as I respect the religious importance, surely this year we should see some form of Lent Lite?

Anyone who has the necessary willpower, resilience and tenacity to last 40 days in a pandemic without indulgences – or staples as I now like to think of them – is a shoo-in candidate for the Mars mission.

First, though, we have Groundhog Day this Tuesday, observed in the US and Canada each February 2 in honour of a marmot meteorologist called Punxsutawney Phil.

Bill Murray in the 1993 film Groundhog Day

The bizarre ritual marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. According to legend, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees a shadow, winter will last six more weeks. If not, then expect an early spring.

Sky Cinema will be doing its annual tradition of marking Groundhog Day with back-to-back screenings of the 1993 film about a pompous weather reporter made to live the same day on a loop until he mends the errors of his ways.

Deja vu? It feels like we are caught in the Groundhog Day of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one where we must endure watching him repeating the same excruciating mistakes over and over.

I have spent much of the past week trying to wrap my head around that figure of 100,000 deaths in the UK from coronavirus. A number so immense and unfathomable and heart-breaking that the brain can’t quite comprehend. I doubt it ever will.

 Susan Swarbrick’s Week: I need a bedathon – blankets, biscuits and box set binges

What will it take for Johnson and his blundering cronies to get a grip on this pandemic? Every decision, every announcement, is like watching a car crash in slow motion. And there was you thinking this was a column about pancakes.

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