A is for: Armstrong (Lance), Anderson (Gerry), Armstrong (Neil) and Aurora, Colorado
Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and seven times winner of the Tour de France was named as a drug cheat, stripped of his titles and faces ruinous law suits. Meanwhile, we marked the passing of a remarkable pioneer. Those of us who are old enough to remember the 1960s will recall one of mankind’s most remarkable technological triumphs; an achievement so remarkable that we can barely imagine how it was achieved at the time all at the time. It was at the cutting edge of technology and shaped the modern world in one of the most dramatic adventures in history. Yes, Thunderbirds. Creator Gerry Anderson passed on. FAB, Gerry. And thanks for Captain Scarlet too.
So did Neil Armstrong. He went into space and landed on the moon, but he was not in Space 1999 – another Gerry Anderson masterpiece.
Meanwhile, no review of the year would be complete without a few mass slayings, and in Aurora Colorado an inadequate youth with orange hair shot dead 12 people at a Batman premier. The NRA called for cinema ushers to be armed.
B is for: Baumgartner (Felix), Bercow (Sally), Balotelli (Mario) and Bone (Fiona) 32
Felix Baumgartner jumped from 24 miles above the earth, breaking sound barrier and reaching 834 mph as he did so.
Sally Bercow got herself in the usual hot water by ignorantly insinuating via that a perfectly innocent man was guilty of sexual abuse, and now faces legal action. Good.
Manchester City’s talented but oddball striker scored some good goals but maintained a track record of truculent and eccentric behaviour, including having camouflaged coloured Bentley and dalliances with lap dancers.
In Manchester, PC Fiona Bone and her young partner was gunned down in a prosaic suburb by an excuse for a human being.
C is for: Commons Committees, Coe (Seb) and Costa Concordia
The Commons Committees had a veritable feeding frenzy with the Phone hacking, G4S and BBC “scandals”. In something which at times appeared to be a badly acted version of a McCarthyism show hearing written by a semi illiterate teenager with “issues”, various members of the Committees took it in turns to try to wrest the limelight from each other and ask the next fatuous and self serving question. A dreary bunch of second rate self publicists who found themselves at the right place in the time as first the Murdoch and News International and then the hapless employees of G4S and then the Beeb were hauled in tumbrels to be vilified before them. We pay these people, sadly. See also Vaz (Keith) below.
A fine year for Lord Seb Coe, who basks in the garden of his own magnificence after an Olympic Games which to be fair was in the end very well delivered. A contender for Man of the Year, Saint Seb of Cash will not go short this New Year. He earned hundreds of thousands from his salary as “Chair” of the sinister London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), speaking fees and “image rights”. According to the Daily Fail, he also already made more than £2.5 million in shares from a company called Complete Leisure Limited, set up shortly after the successful bid. That is not an end of the matter as “The Grauniad” reports that he will receive yet further millions from his involvement as consultant to Chime Communications and the sale of the aforesaid Complete Leisure Limited. All in all, a whole new meaning to “Olympic Gold”.
Meanwhile, it was never a good idea to take a ride on an Italian cruise ship with a captain who was allegedly trying to impress a prospective girlfriend with a bit of sailing too close to the shore, allegedly. 32 passengers lost their lives as the ship hit the rocks. Tape of the Year goes to the recording of the captain insisting he needed to get off the boat as soon as possible to make sure everything was OK on shore, and the coast guard, insisting very firmly that he should not. I do so love a national stereotype.
D is for: Drought and Dancing Horses
Unless my memory fails me, in the early part of the year parts of the United Kingdom were alleged to resemble sub Saharan Africa, and plagues of locusts and thirst crazed beasts traversed the bare, featureless landscape in search of a drop of dew. Then the “summer” arrived, and it has been pissing down ever since.
Dancing Horses is for one of the weird phenomena of the Olympics and Paralympics as a crazed fury of enthusiasm swept the UK as its athletes in all shapes and sizes swept all before them. Even the “toffs” and “nobs” got in on the act with the “Dancing Horses” in the dressage. For about 48 hours cab drivers and window cleaners, council workers and check out operators opined with enthusiasm and no little authority on “cadence”, “bend of neck”, “lateral movements” and the “relative straightness” of the German (boo) and the British (huzzah!) horses. Tempi changes were all the rage in my Tesco. Anyway, we won.
E is for: Ennis (Jessica) Emporer’s New Clothes, Entwistle (George) and Euro (the)
Speaking of the Olympics, Jessica Ennis was the poster girl for the Games, and delivered. My abiding memory will be her belting down the straight ahead of the field in the last event, the 800 meters when she only had to play it safe as the crowd went mental. She lit the blue touch paper for Super Saturday.
Emporer’s New Clothes is because so many stories such as Savile and the Great Cull of Sixty Year Old Plus Celebrities should remind us that those who sit on top of the greasy pole of “celebrity”, power and money and politics so often have nothing to commend them at all but their own soi disant belief in their own entitlement. Not that I am cynical, bitter and twisted at all.
George Entwistle was appointed DG of the BBC. But the DG did not appear to have the slightest clue what any of Auntie’s employees were up to, and also gave one of the most toe curling embarrassing interviews of all time to the Today programme in which he was to my mind unable to explain what exactly he did for a living. He carried on the BBC’s time honoured tradition by leaving with his job a huge pay out after a couple of weeks.
The Euro staggered on like the undead: see under “Z”.
F is for: Fiscal Cliff and Floods
America is in hock to China to the tune of $13 trillion dollars or some such, but unable to agree a budget. So the government is about to start going into the financial version of anaphylactic shock, and shut down piecemeal. Slowly but surely, America is losing all credibility, and on so many fronts.
Meanwhile, it has rained and rained and rained all year. Floods have swept through large parts of the country and it is still at it. We continue to build on floodplains. Such wisdom.
G is for: G4S and Gangnam Style
G4S is one of those more than slightly sinister corporate entities which pays equally sinister “yuppies” called Nigel and Benedict who live in Islington many hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds to undertake what is called “re-branding”. This complex process always involves making up a meaningless word comprised of cod Latin and/or a number in a short and catchy pattern. G4S was awarded the contract to provide security guards for the Olympics, but it turned out that either it could provide no guards at all, or where it could they were mostly illegal immigrants from Afghanistan and Somalia with non pc views on women’s rights. The Commons Home Affairs Committee (see above) had a field day with the muppets G4S fielded before it. Expect a new rebranding in 2013. I suggest “Inc0mp-E-tent”.
Meanwhile a weird dance from Japan or some such became something of a worldwide phenomenon. The YouTube video became the most watched ever. With thrusting hips and odd hand gyrations almost everybody was doing everything in “Gangnam Style”. It is rumoured even Boris and Call Me Dave danced in Gangnam style at Chequers, thus proving that they were men of the people, or just a couple of moronic public school tossers who should be estate agents on the Kings Road and not running the country or London. The choice is yours, dear reader.
H is for: Hollande (Francois Nicolas) and Hathaway (Anne), Hurricane Sandy and Hughes (Nicola)
Francois Hollande wrested power from the vertically challenged President Bling Bling and his vampiric wife in France, and set about declaring the End of Austerity in a now economic plan based on the successful Greek model of spending and soaking the rich. Ed Balls salivated at the prospect. In Germany, Angela Merkel has been dusting off old copies of the Schlieffen Plan. This may have unexpected consequences. See “Man of the Year” below.
An altogether more elegant and glossy figure is Hathaway. The toothy and leggy one emerged from general teen flick obscurity with a couple of meaty parts in “One Day” and “The Dark Knight Rises”, as well as the soon to be released film versions of Les Miserables, aka “The Glums”. She handled herself with grace and humour in the endless rounds of interviews, and is set to be a major star.
Hurricane Sandy was a hurricane that devastated portions of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States during late October 2012, with lesser impacts in the Southeastern and Midwestern states and Eastern Canada. Sandy, classified as the eighteenth named storm and tenth hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, was a Category 2 storm at its peak intensity. While it was a Category 1 storm off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km)).[ Preliminary estimates of losses due to damage and business interruption are estimated at $65.6 billion (2012 USD), which would make it the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane, behind only Hurricane Katrina. At least 253 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries.
Nicola Hughes was the second WPC gunned down by scum on a Manchester street. A bonnie girl, she was known to my family. RIP.
I is for Immigration, Inquiries and the Invisible Men
Analysis of the 2011 Census revealed that all those assurances about immigration being under control and the accession of Eastern European countries to the EU making no difference were exactly what usually issues forth from the mouths of our political classes when they open their mouths – utter bollocks. Analysis by the Office of National Statistics showed that the population of England and Wales grew by 7.1 per cent to 56.1 million, twice the rate recorded in the previous decade. When the census results for Northern Ireland and an estimate for Scotland were taken into account the UK population stands at around 63.1 million, up four million in the past decade; almost equivalent to adding the entire city of Manchester each year. More than half the population growth was driven by immigration, with two thirds of immigrants coming from non-EU countries. The official figures also showed that England is now the third most densely populated country in the EU, behind only Malta and the Netherlands. In London, population density levels are 16 times higher than in the rest of the country. This may or may not be a good thing. In the case of the delicious Magda who works in my local Polski Sklep and wears very short skirts and flirts with me, it is plainly a very good thing indeed. But as an illustration of the disconnect between the political classes and the man on the street it is telling.
I is for Inquiries. Savile inquiries, BBC inquiries, Leveson inquires, Hillsborough Inquiries, inquiries into past inquiries. The answer to all our ills is another inquiry. The number of inquiries is quite shocking. There needs to be an inquiry into who is paying for all these inquiries. I want an inquiry.
I is also for the Invisible Men, namely Middle East Peace Envoy “Phoney” Tony Blair and Gordon “Bigoted Woman” Brown. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know what they do. But we know they are earning cash by the ton in true Nu-Labour style.
J is for Jubilee.
Dear God, it was dull. Something about a river parade and “celebs” putting on a pop concert which Brenda would have hated. I hated it too.
K is for Kate.
The Duchess of Cambridge. Living proof of that old maxim that nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
L is for Leveson
More witch-huntery and show trial-itis.
I am advised that the Salem witch trials may well have been provoked not by the antics of the Beast and his slaves on the earthly plane, but by mouldy bread which caused delusions and sweats. As a result nineteen people were hanged and one pressed to death. Private Eye famously ran an edition parodying Leveson in the style of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”, and to be fair the delicious Rebekah Brooks (be still my beating heart”) gave them a gift by appearing in her contemporary Puritan black dress and white bob collar. Tis the gift to be simple….
That said, it may all yet turn out to be the Salem Witch Trial of the Free Press, triggered by the deleted texts that never were.
The press is naughty, and we know it but we like it and need it. The politicians and the celebs hate the press. The press gave the politicians a serious kicking over their expenses – on the basis of illegally obtained information by the way. The politicos see the chance for revenge and grasp it. A judge recommends…..more laws. Millions of pounds wasted on the lawyers. Will it be the press that dies? I expect that nothing would delight the political classes more.
M is for Mackinnon (Gary), McAlpine (Lord), Mensch (Louise), Muamba (Fabrice) and The Mayan Prophecy
Gary Mackinnon escaped extradition claiming Asberger’s syndrome. I express no view. Cough.
Lord McAlpine is an upstanding citizen not in the best of health implicated by a Newsnight in an act of totally shoddy journalism. Not surprisingly, the walking talking tweeting disaster that is Sally Bercow got in on the act and has landed herself a law suit.
Louise Mensch – a former member of the Commons Culture, Media and Sports and was all over Twitter – resigned “to spend less time with Britain”. Britain rejoiced. It was bigger than the Jubilee.
A Bolton Wanderers footballer called Fabrice Muamba effectively died on the pitch. His heart stopped for more than an hour. Fortunately the pitch side medical services were superb and perhaps even more fortunately both the club doctor and Mr Andrew Deaner, Consultant Cardiologist at London Chest Hospital, was at the game as a fan, and ran on to the pitch to lend his expertise. Somehow Muamba survived which is good. The nation enjoyed one of its ever more disturbing and common fits of faux emotion, which is not.
And the Mayans got it wrong, it seems. A pity because I maxed out on my credit card before Christmas and I was rather hoping for the Apocalypse, Now. Never mind, as the old joke goes, it is not the end of the world…
N is for Newsnight and Nicklinson (Tony) and Norovirus
Newsnight is in a complete shambles, as is the Beeb. Having decided not to run a story raising concerns about the nefarious activities of Jimmy Savile, the programme then published a piece which all but named Tory grandee Lord McAlpine as a child abusing paedophile. Except they never showed the mentally disturbed and confused victim a photograph, and never bothered to as Lord M, who as it turned out, was and is a totally innocent man. By the time he was all over Twitter, it was too late. See also “Omnishambles”.
Tony Nicklinson, struck down by a stroke and living for years in a living hell of paralysis has been a long term campaigner for the right to choose a dignified death. He lost his legal campaign. The Good Lord proved to be a little more reasonable than Her Majesty’s judges, and granted his ultimate appeal. RIP.
Meanwhile cases of the Winter Vomiting Bug have gone up 83%. Significantly, this almost exactly correlates to the increase in the media exposure of Keith Vaz, MP.
O is for Olympics, Obama (Barack) and Omnishambles
The Olympics! The joy of the great British public getting behind not just every great British performance, but in truth behind every great performance – period. When they could actually get in as the best seats at the big events were largely reserved for the sponsors and “Olympic Family”. Despite that the nation fell in love with the Games, and with something Britain does not often do: win and win big.
Obama regained the White House. Well, did you REALLY want Mitt Romney?
Omnishambles is the best word for ages. It more or less sums up the muddle of spin and incompetence that passes for government, central and local, and the inner workings of the BBC.
P is for Plebgate, Pang (Fatty), Premier League, Prank Call and Pussy Riot
Plebgate is the strangest story of the year. A rather nasty looking toff with a famous bad temper is accused of calling police a bunch of “f-ing plebs” and pointing out that “they don’t run the f-ing country” – both of which are probably arguably correct as simple statements of fact, albeit a little charmless. Neverthless this ignites a press campaign and as the band wagon rolls, Red Ed and co leap merrily aboard. And yet now it appears that the Boys in Blue may have been a little…exuberant in their recording of events. In short, “fitted up” the not very attractive sounding but quite possibly largely innocent Mitchell. Expect heads on polls. An alarming paradigm of possible power of special interests groups.
Chris Patten, aka Fat (or more accurately “Fatty”) Pang, continues his portfolio of well paid jobs. These include leading the appointment process of the DG of the BBC, and leading the payoff negotiations when he proves inept. Pang sails on, serene, unsinkable. A man with seemingly no actual use at all, save for causing my blood pressure to soar when he appears on television. However I sense knives are out.
A brief mention for the Premier League. It is almost entirely made up of mercenaries and cheats but it still makes for compelling watching as the title is decided on goal difference. Manchester United believe they have won, but with almost the last kick of the season in extra time their great rivals Manchester City equalize and take the title on goal difference. As someone once said; football. Bloody hell!
Pussy Riot are not words which I would not naturally associate with this blog, but in Moscow the all girl punk band got banged up (possibly an inappropriate word) for performing an anti Putin song in a Moscow cathedral. One has been released on appeal. Despite the fact that this is a reminder that a la Lord of the Rings, something nasty is reforming in the East, I can’t help but have some sympathy for a regime that locks up someone supported by Madonna.
Q is for Qatada, Abu
Still running rings round the government, receiving vast benefits, and pledged to destroy my culture, heritage and democracy, I thank Qatada every day for another reminder that we are lions led by donkeys, and that the law is an ass. His legal aid bill for the latest round of litigation tops £1,000,000. He lives in a huge house paid for by the tax payer with his huge benefit hungry family. Meanwhile Pensioners go short, hungry and cold. Well done, the Establishment.
R is for Rathband (David)
David Rathband, blinded in a shotgun attack by psycho loser Raoul Moat, decided it was time to depart. RIP.
S is for Skyfall, Savile and Sex Abuse, Sandé (Emili), Smith (Louis), Summer (Donna) Syria and Sandy Hook.
Skyfall was a wonderful return to form for the Bond franchise. Sharp dialogue, a powerful and physical presence from Daniel Craig, great supporting acting and it looked beautiful. The biggest earning British film of all time. And the best Bond theme for many years.
Savile. Where to start? So the creepy weird bloke who liked having children around turned out to be a pervert. Welcome to the values on New Britain, in which fame and television appearances are the only currency and all critical judgment is suspended before the cult of “celebrity”. A cult so strong that our youth are willingly sacrificed, with their consent or without, on its altar. See also Emporer’s New Clothes. See also most “celebrity” and almost all politicians.
Emeli Sandé is a fabulous singer who came to my notice by taking a dirge rapper from “Professor Green” (his real name is Brian, or Stephen) and making it very special. It has been a fabulous year for this ex medical student singer songwriter who received very little exposure apart from the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the Olympic Closing Ceremony, every other ceremony, every TV show, every other artist clambering to work with her…but she is good.
Louis Smith was a worthy winner of “Strictly”, using his Olympically honed gymnast’s torso to edge out my personal favourite, Kimberley Walsh’s Bottom. However, my favourite Kimberley got the best comment of the series from Craig Revel-Horwood for her “show dance”: “Indecent, improper, and absolute filth – I loved it!” Hear! hear!
Donna Summer, disco diva (actually a good egg) passed on. I feel luuurrrrrrrrrrve…RIP.
Syria. Do we have any idea how this will pan out? Is there anything we can do? I suspect not on either front.
S is also for Sandy Hook. Traditionally no review of the year is complete without its Festive Gun Crime Killing Spree. I have made mention of Aurora above, but early this month another saddo with an assault rifle and an unknowable grievance really gilded the lily with the massacre of 20 five and six year old children and 6 adult staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
S is also for Victoria Soto. She was a quiet young woman who taught at the school and loved children. She was gunned down trying to protect her class. The NRA were quiet for a while, then suggested that every teacher should carry a gun.
T is for Tulisa
On a lighter note, Tulisa is short for Tula Paulinea Contostavlos. She was/is a successful member of an “urban” band called N’Dubz. I rather like her, but she went down in my opinion by becoming a member of the X factor behemoth. I am told she also went down in the obligatory sex tape that was circulating on the internet…..
U is for Up The Duff.
See Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. See also: job done (I hope, maam).
V is for Vaz (Keith) and Victim of Gang Rape
Somewhere in the back of my mind is the memory of a horror movie in which the “monster” takes the form of a sort of semi intelligent mini oil slick which slides under doors in its inexorable progress, before infecting all those with whom it makes contact. And as such it may have formed the template for the life form which is The Vaz. Whether grandstanding on a Commons committee with absurdly modulated vowels or offering tea and heartfelt sympathy to the unfortunate family of prank suicide nurse Jacintha Saldanha, found hanging in her room at the King Edward VII Hospital in London, the Oleaginous One would be found giving a press conference or hamming up a photo opportunity. A stunning display of pointless self aggrandizing narcissism, and a valuable reminder to all of us of how despicable our political classes can be.
Meanwhile in India on 16th December a young woman was attacked and raped on a bus. Sadly, a couple of days ago she died of internal injuries. The woman, who has not been identified, has become a symbol for the treatment of women in India, where rape is common and conviction rates for the crime are low. She boarded a bus with a male friend after watching a movie at a mall, and was raped and attacked with an iron rod by the men, who the police later said had been drinking and were on a “joy ride.” She died on Saturday morning in Singapore, where she had been flown for treatment for the severe internal injuries caused by the assault. She had an infection in her lungs and abdomen, liver damage and a brain injury, the Singapore hospital said, and died from organ failure. Her body was flown back to India on Saturday. The rape is just one of many attacks on women and has at last focussed attention on India’s shame.
W is for Wiggins (Sir Bradley), Houston (Whitney), Weedon (Bert), Williams (Andy) and “We Are All In This Together”
Bradley Wiggins won not just the World’s toughest cycle race, and won it clean, but then went on to claim Olympic gold just a couple of weeks later. Arise Sir Bradley – as predicted.
Whitney Huston took an early bath. Bert Weedon played his last chord. They were joined by former coke snorting crooner Andy Williams.
Finally, We Are All In This Together. We are, are we George? What utter, utter bollocks.
X is for Xylophone (silent)
Aha! No need to resort to the usual X-Factor cop out this year! Sadly, the soul of the great and eccentric astronomer Sir Patrick Moore ascended to make a closer, more personal inspection of the heavens. A talented amateur musician, his Xylophone shall remain ever quiet from now one.
Y is for Yousufzai, Malala
Malala Yousufzai is a dangerous woman. Well to be precise, a dangerous 13 year old girl. She has become a well known figure campaigning for girl’s education and women’s rights in her native Pakistan. The reasoned response of those who follow the more robust interpretation of the Religion of Peace to this clear heresy was to attempt to fill her full of lead on a school bus. Dontcha just love those Taliban? We should have some here…I am sure Abu Qatada needs company. She has received treatment in the UK and may recover, but news that Gordon Brown had organised a petition in her support may well prove a setback.
Z is for Zed
A tricky one, “Z”. I have had to be a bit creative. I understand from my “massive” that “zed” is street speak for Zombie, those of the undead who have no business in the land of the living, the flesh polluting necrophiles who should be despatched to oblivion by whatever means necessary, lest they infect all around and bring down civilisation. No longer alive, yet weirdly able to move and mouth an endless, low, pitiable, moaning sound, dribbling saliva, without intelligence and functioning only on a bare instinct.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Nick Clegg and Ed Balls.
AND finally, I present two new awards to close the year. First is Utterly Despicable Shit of the Year. I can think of many candidates, but in the end it was a runaway winner. I present…
The National Rifle Association.
And finally, Man, Woman or Organization of the Year. Not Saint Seb. Not even The Vaz for his services to the Oil Industry. No, no, no! Man of the Year is….. A joint award to…
Gerard Depardieu and Starbucks!
Now, I am not particularly an admirer of M. Depardieu canon of works, very fine actor though he clearly is. However, Gerard has displayed formidably commendable leadership. Faced with the proposed tax hikes by the somewhat Balls-like M. Hollande up to 85% levels, M. Depardieu not unreasonably complained that the French Treasury had had the benefit of about 100,000,000 francs in taxes from him already. And so he placed himself in self imposed tax exile. He left his mansion in Paris and moved to Néchin, a rural settlement with just 2,200 people, two cafes, a fast-food fry shop, a ruined chateau and no cinema, about 200 metres over the border in Belgium. Yes, Belgium. A plain but perfectly functional farmhouse, away from the grasp of M. Hollande.
And as for Starbucks? They pay no tax. Good. Well I bloody well wish I paid no tax and I wish we all paid no tax! Wouldn’t it be good if the government looked on tax as a bonus and not a right to bleed us little proles? What if government had to earn our taxes, not merely take them? What king of government would that be? A better one? A more prudent one?
As for Gerard, in my book, no greater sacrifice can a man make in support of the cause of freedom or any other cause than to live in Belgium. Can you imagine the horror? But in fact, Gerard is just one of the thousands of French émigrés who are decamping from their Gallic idyll and heading for all points across Europe – especially, I understand, Londres. Sorry, Londonistan. Sorry, London – I hope the use of that word is not too unPC in this year of “Common Era” 2012.
For my part I regard it as a Thoroughly Welcome Invasion. I shall look forward to ever improved standards of coffee, baking, general stylishness and not a few well turned out Parisian ladies to distract me as I play boules beside the Thames in the company of some Russian Oligarchs and a footballer from the Ivory Coast, being the only people who can afford to live in the place these days, unless you are talking about Tower Hamlets (which should be, but is not yet, twinned with Mogadishu. It is in fact twinned with Sylhet, Bangladesh).
Gerard has suffered a tirade of denouncements from The Powers That Be in France, who have accused him of being unpatriotic. M. Depardieu apparently responded with the French version of the two fingered salute. He has sent his passport back. Apparently he has been offered Russian citizenship.
Bravo Gerard! We should all follow suit.
And on that happy note: Happy New Year to all the readers and Raccoonistas! And especially, our landlady!
©Gildas the Monk