APRIL, TS Eliot always contended, is the cruellest month. It’s a theory, I suppose. Every time I’ve read that line in The Waste Land, though, the question I want to ask is, “Tom, please show us your workings.”

April, as Eliot points out himself, at least has lilacs. January, though. What has January to offer? Snow, floods, grey light and general misery. Not sure Death in Paradise on the telly makes up for all that.

And that’s in a good year. This year is definitely not that. With the exception of those who have to leave the house for work, we are all stuck at home in a way none of us have experienced before. No midweek visits to the Italian restaurant. No gigs, no movies, no coffee and cake at the National Gallery’s cafe.

January 2021 has seen the daily release of frankly numbing figures of people dying from symptoms related to coronavirus. The first Covid 19-related death in the UK was recorded on March 6 last year. Here we are, less than a year later, closing in fast on the horrific statistic of 100,000 deaths caused by the virus. There is so much grief behind that number.

We can – we should – ask the question why? Why is the UK at the top of charts when it comes to the daily covid death rate? There are areas where the Prime Minister’s favourite soundbite “world-beating,” is actually not the thing to aspire to.

For the rest of us, though, January 2021 has been a long, anxious, wearying weight of time. A time to endure not enjoy, too early for signs of renewal. Lilacs breeding in dead land are at least a few months away.

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Still, this week has seen a few tiny shoots of hope. My mum got her first vaccination on Wednesday. My mother-in-law will get hers this weekend. There is now a chance that I’ll get to see them both again in the flesh at some point this year.

Meanwhile, over in America, the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President felt like a kind of vaccination too. A vaccination against malice and ignorance. We can say goodbye and good riddance to an incompetent, hateful (in every sense) incumbent who should be remembered – and excoriated – for separating kids from their parents and putting them in cages.

Like most inaugurations – January 2017 being the notable exception – it was a ceremony full of fine words and lofty sentiments.

Fine words and lofty sentiments are the easy bit of government, of course. President Biden has inherited a country riven by division and a deadly disease. To find a way through both may be quite a challenge.

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Still, the fine words do matter. I can’t say I watched all of the inauguration (I didn’t stay up for Tom Hanks; sorry Tom), but I did catch Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old young black woman who brought actual poetry to the event. Her poem The Hill We Climb rose to the occasion.

“There is always light,” she concluded, “if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

January has been the cruellest of months. But hopefully this will be the worst we feel. Who knows? April might look better.