Home > Uncategorized > That really was the year, that was

That really was the year, that was

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

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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