Editor's comment: December 2016
PUBLISHED: 12:01 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:38 28 November 2016
As we approach the beginning of a new year, editor Mike Lowe takes us through the ups and downs of 2016
It’s fair to say that 2016 has been an absolute pig of a year (although that’s probably unfair on pigs which are just delightful off the plate as on it). Death and destruction has been rife across the globe and many of the certainties we thought we held have turned out to be uncertainties after all. (On the night of the European referendum, I told my wife “Go to bed. Everything is going to be alright.” On the night of the American presidential election, I told my wife “Go to bed. Everything is going to be alright.” If I now tell her it’s Tuesday, she goes to the calendar to check.)
Maybe it’s the advancing years of my generation, but the death toll of our cultural heroes has been relentless. From Bowie to Ali, via Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood and Hilda Ogden, almost every week saw another icon snatched away from us. (Even as I write this, Robert Vaughan has handed in his triangular Man From Uncle badge and hung up his Magnificent Seven guns.)
It got so bad that every night my wife would kneel by the bed and pray that Alan Bennett and Leonard Cohen would make it to 2017. Fate decreed that she was denied that heartfelt wish.
It’s an odd consolation, but inevitably we’ll eventually run out of heroes and the mantle of grief will pass to the next generation, although (and I wish neither of them any harm) I doubt Mr Blobby and Gordon the Gopher will be mourned as Prince and Alan Rickman were.
Still, it’s not all been bad news, even if you do wake up in the morning wishing that 2016 had never happened. Tim Peake – even if he did seem to spend more time Tweeting than grafting – did a fine job of inspiring schoolchildren from the International Space Station; Leicester City overturned the table – in both ways – by upsetting the greedy gluttons who feast on football’s billions (and inspired Gary Lineker to come over all political at the same time); and Helen Archer was quite rightly cleared of disembowelling the abusive Titchener over a jug of instant custard. Oh, and the baby iguana escaped the dreaded racer snakes on Planet Earth II. We should be thankful for these small victories.
It is sincerely hoped that recent events don’t sour relationships with our friends from the USA, who make such a valuable contribution to our tourism economy as well as being open, friendly visitors. In support of the special relationship, a lady called Ivy Lee from Sunnydale, California, took the trouble to compile a list of why Americans still love the British. Here are just a few of her observations:
“They call hamburgers beefburgers because they’re clearly made out of beef. They have the full English breakfast while we have the full sugar and preservatives cereal. They have nice relaxing afternoon teas with custard cream biscuits while we drown ourselves in Starbucks just to maintain functionality. Their native sports, football, rugby, cricket are adopted internationally while our sports reside mainly in America. They have 28 days of paid holiday by law, not including maternity leave, sick leave, etc. while we have 10.
“They know how to primly and properly queue. They know how to primly and properly apologise – for everything. They have a greater grasp of sarcasm, irony, self deprecating humour and the entire English language.”
And finally, my favourite: “They beat us at politeness and profanity at the same time.”
Politeness and profranity? Well Ivy, you’re welcome here any time – as long as you don’t bring that orange-faced megalomaniac f****** with you…
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