Greetings one and all and welcome to the first Howards Way of 2021. It is generally agreed that 2020 was a year that we would all like to forget and unfortunately 2021 has started out on a very sombre tone.

Putting to one side the truly dreadful effect on life that this pandemic has on everybody, it has also decimated the High Street. As somebody who has spent five decades, so far, in the drycleaning industry and is genuinely passionate about it I will just take the opportunity to write down a few of my thoughts and observations. I do not profess to have any answers to the current situation and, indeed, I think that there are more questions than answers anyway…

During the lockdowns launderettes and drycleaners are counted as essential services but as I am sure that you are painfully aware, being allowed to open is of no use if all your customers are staying at home. What will our industry look like after the pandemic – nobody knows and in an industry that was declining anyway before Covid-19 erupted, how can we stay positive in the Covid-9 situation?

Firstly, I think that it is important to remember that 100 years ago, the Spanish Flu was a global pandemic that wiped out an estimated 50 million lives, it was far worse than what we have now and there were no vaccines, no home deliveries, no TV, no Internet. Businesses were closed, theatres and cinemas were closed, restaurants and cafés were closed, face masks were obligatory, and one could be arrested for not wearing one. The world had also just gone through the Great War with a cost of 20 million lives. These figures of 70 million dead over a short period dwarf what is going on now and was the equivalent of the current entire combined populations of Great Britain and Jamaica ceasing to exist.

The Spanish Flu had fizzled out by 1921 and that was without vaccines. The 1920s however are often referred to as the Roaring Twenties and despite the terrible events described above, businesses re-opened and many thrived.

We have every advantage over the people who endured the horrors back then, we have the NHS, remote communications, a vaccine and also, like the folk back then, we have resilience, but we just do not know it.

The media projects doom and gloom and in fact some of the TV channels seem to revel in airing the most distressing and depressing stories. It is no wonder we all feel depressed.

Looking on the positive side and being as pro-active as you can, go to work on your textile care premises. Take the opportunity with this lack of custom to look at your workplace with a critical eye and give it a blitz. Get everything looking spick and span and most importantly inviting to the eye when this pandemic and lockdown finishes, which it will, and people are out and about with money to spend.

I leave you with a thought from that wonderful centenarian, Captain Sir Tom Moore: “Tomorrow will be a better day”. And if not tomorrow, then certainly it will be sometime soon.