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That really was the year, that was

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

At the end of a year it’s nice to reflect on what has passed and take a moment to quietly process what we have learned and lived through. Or in the case of 2011, to see what we can remember out of the entire batshit insane parade of crazy. For a people grown used to the news being  ‘wikileaks releases even more stuff no one didn’t already know and the media dissects it for a further three months’, 2011 was a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster in which actual things happened. Loads of them. Constantly.

The year begins in the birthplace of modern democracy. Tunisia. Revolution spreads so far and so fast that some news organisations consider showing us actual maps so that for a couple of weeks we can all pretend that we know which continent each country is in. Regimes fall, dictators tumble, we start to think the world map will rewrite itself. Just as we’d begun to figure out what the world map looks like, too. Gadaffi halts the domino effect of the new democracy by appearing on television and being mistaken by the casual channel surfer for Charlie Sheen. In any case, it’s off to war again.  It’s one of those wars we forget about very quickly.

The Tories roll on, with more bright ideas than Q in James Bond. We consider closing libraries, banning forests and criminalising  soup runs for the homeless. Et cetera, et cetera. We live in exciting times. Lots of people take a Saturday afternoon to walk the streets of London and protest about all sorts of things.  Who makes the news? Ten rock throwing morons. Who takes the blame? 138 peaceful protesters of UKUncut who’d spent the afternoon sitting in Fortnam and Mason. Despite the direst of economic times in which we have absolutely no money whatsoever, it turns out we do have enough money to pointlessly prosecute 138 peaceful protesters for sitting in a shop on a Saturday afternoon.

Japan has an earthquake and a tsunami and nuclear power plants. We watch TV all day and every day. We all learn a lot about nuclear power, which we all then promptly forget.

The NHS is not reformed into an early grave just yet – possibly because of this rap? Who knows. Not the Tories, who look mildly nervous for the first time. Anyway, NHS reform heads off on spring break. The cuts begin. We wait for Armageddon.

We hold a referendum on AV and the country is united in its determination to thoroughly understand the intricacies of the electoral process and ramifications of its reform. Well, I’m sure we would have been had it not been for the competing attraction of two people getting married. Bloodshed in Syria fades into insignificance beside something like that. AV never stood a chance.

Osama bin Laden is killed! A monumental story, the culmination of a decade long historical international narrative. Obama looks re-electable for as many as three days together. The world debates whether we have a right to see graphic photos of a bloodied corpse. And then everyone forgets all about it. So much news, so little time.

It is a year so filled with news that there is no room for silly season. Instead of silly season, we get Murdochgate. Murdochgate! The greatest screwball comedy since the golden age of Hollywood. Once again, we gather around TV sets and watch such glorious characters as Rebekah, Rebekah’s Hair, two men who had never met or spoken to anyone employed by their media empire, and of course that funny little man who seemed to live in the television studios, running from show to show and growing madder by the day. And Cameron is involved! He is hauled back from his holidays for questioning. And the police are involved! They all start to resign. And then people get arrested! Truly this is the greatest silly season of all time. What care we for imminent economic collapse when there is such joy as this in our summer? In our collective mudochgasm over murdochgate, it was easy to forget that a vital British institution had been lost, one that we had always assumed would be an unending source of breasts and bollocks. Bye bye, News of the World. I can’t say how much we’ll miss you.

We pause briefly for tragedy in Norway and the passing of Amy Winehouse. Then it’s right back to business: world news is now unfolding outside out very own windows. So we lock them, close the curtains and follow it, panic-stricken,  on TV. Yes, it’s the Great Riots of ’11. The riots are organised by rampaging little dipshits who, it emerges, are communicating with one another, using technology. Both dipshits and technology are debated heartily. The nation goes to war, in that we assume a siege mentality for three days and the Prime Minister is hauled back from his holidays yet again to make some wise and pragmatic comments about rubber bullets and water cannons.

In the background, the US economy slouches towards Bethlehem, the Eurozone makes repeated references to something called contagion (which we assume refer to the disaster movie of the same name due for release later in the year) and Greece and Spain experience widespread popular protest. The Arab spring turns into summer too, but by this point of the year we are only capable of processing the sort of stories that get their own gate-suffix.

Or that have a really good poster.

Occupy! The biggest protest ever! Since, like, 1968! And the best poster ever! It’s a ballerina on a bull! The poster is fucking excellent. Occupy Wall Street begins in New York, which is where Wall Street is, and then spreads across the States. It is peaceful, without specific political purpose, and derided for not having a solution to problems no elected leader on the globe is currently able to fix and many can barely spell. Stupid hippies. It finds its way to London. We do not occupy Wall Street, or the London Stock Exchange. We occupy St Pauls, because the vicar said we might. Ah, working class heroes.

The comedy world loses one of its own, as beloved son Berlusconi finally leaves office. This event is somewhat overshadowed by the prospect of inconceivable financial collapse in both Greece and Italy. And Spain. And Portugal. And maybe Belgium. And everywhere that isn’t Germany. The Eurozone begins to look a bit like Rupert Murdoch. Which formerly successful country do we hastily shut down in order to save the empire? Recession looms. Peace in Europe is declared to no longer be a certainty. The Greek government falls. Spain elects a new government that makes the Tories look cute ‘n’ cuddly.  US Republican presidential primaries introduce a series of characters who make George W look like an intellectual giant with a doctorate in rationalism. There is talk of military strikes against Iran. Hang on, isn’t 2012 meant to be the year the world ends?

In a year of such rapid change and permanently boggle-eyed befuddlement, the few remaining certainties in our world become all the more important. Like – Ed Milliband will continue to be rather useless. Or – the price of gas will always go up. And – the speed of light is a constant. That sort of thing.

And then come the neutrinos. In an attempt to stage their own revolution or riot, the neutrinos break the speed of light. Well, fuck the neutrinos. Their behaviour is roundly condemned and they are given punitive jail sentences for advertising their intended act of civil disobedience on social media. That bloody showed them.

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Nightmare Before the Christmas Carol (and other seasonal abominations)

December 4, 2011 1 comment

‘Twas the night before Christmas and in the UK
The people of Britain were far from okay.
Those who had houses were tucked in their beds,
While thoughts of disaster danced in their heads

The markets had crashed, the recession loomed on;
It was hard to be cheery when the jobs were all gone.
The bills on the mantle would never be paid
But at least they were better than those needing aid
Because those days were gone; the days when the state
Might support those in need or who fell in dire straits
Were a thing of the past now – it was each on their own
And Christmas is hard if you might lose your home.

The country was struggling, debt and despair
No Santa to wish for, it wasn’t quite fair.
And no sleigh bells were coming, no hope and no cheer
A dismal prospective at this time of year

For Santa the socialist was barred from this land
His renegade policies now had been banned
It was wrong to give gifts to the poor and bereft
To the homeless, the jobless, the unions, the left.
Presents to kids who had worked not a day?
Everyone knew that this just led the way
To a life as a scrounger, a benefit cheat
So Santa was banished, the year’s greatest feat

But all was not lost because on this one night
One man had the power to make everything right:
(Though many by now thought him naught but a prick)
The great Mister C, and his reindeer called Nick

Some said he was cruel and unfair and unkind
Some said that his reindeer was out of his mind
Some said he was only a privileged twit
A Bullingdon bully who cared not a whit.

But at this time of year, even Scrooge could come good
Though the odds were against it, maybe Mr C could?
When rattling chains came and banged at his door
He opened it up to the ghost of Before

The ghost of Before and the ghost of Right Now
Had come on this night to show Mr C how
Their lives and careers, once so powerful and great,
Had ended in loathing and lynch mobs and hate

Mrs Thatcher and Murdoch told cautionary tales
And Mr C knew that a wise man would hail
The message they brought him and heed what they said
While Nick whimpered in fear and hid under the bed.

His heroes departed, Mr C locked the door
But this night was not finished, there was still to be more.
The Ghost of To Come is worst ghost of all
And To Come was now marching in right through the wall.

Mr C held his nerve, much braver than most,
His feet planted firmly, he stared down the ghost.
But To Come showed him something that all wise men fear
The results of elections in upcoming years.

 
Then it was over and the ghosts were all gone
Mr C saw the light now – there was work to be done!
So he saddled his reindeer and flew through the night
It wasn’t too late – they could still put this right!

Such hardship and struggle they saw as they flew
So many in trouble, so much they could do.
Though the weight of their bags almost caused them to crash
They got to the banks and they gave out the cash.

For the way to save Britain was to give to the rich
Though he knew in his heart that the poor would still bitch
But what could be done with the ungrateful swine?
Whatever he did, the scroungers would whine.

With gifts handed out to the good and the great
He hopped on his sleigh for it wasn’t too late
To pop down the chimney of good little bankers
So what if the bitter still thought them all wankers?

With joy in his heart, Mr C passed out cheques
Bigger than anyone dared to expect
To each high ranking banker and financial advisor
No one again would dare call him a miser!

The bankers all happy, Mr C headed home
Locked Nick in a stable and picked up the phone
For the press must be told of this great Christmas tale
And headlines prepared in the fine Daily Mail.

At home safe and sound Mr C filled his glass
His work was now done and the year it had passed
Nick in the stable was carefully tethered
Just a toast to us all being in it together
Was left to be raised by our champion of right
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Categories: Cameron, Christmas