Update, 2017-01-01:I've tweaked this slightly today to... erm... strengthen some of the language, and add back in a coupla passages that for some reason got scuppered in the self-imposed "editorial rush" last night.
And - yes - take note ye shrinking violets: I use coarser language even than usual in this article.
Well, yes... 2016 was a disappointing year, yeah? Like many other people will be doing / have already done, I could rattle off a list of celebrities that have died, and offer that as "proof" that 2016 was a bit of a poor showing. Because, you know, that's how we measure how good or bad a year is these days, right? Celebrity death.
FFS, the real reason why 2016 has been such a bloody disappointment is because our "civilisation" has got to the point that that is how we measure things. Via celebrity head count. Seriously... I feel a sense of empathy with the families of all these noted people who have died this year, cos having a family member die really fucking sux. But I don't really know why we're all carrying on like the death of [insert name of celebrity here] in any way changes our own blimin' lives. Yeah, sure, those dead musicians are not going to produce any more albums for us to listen to. But plenty of other people will produce albums to listen to. We can listen to those ones. And movie stars? Do people really measure impact on their lives by whether they get to see another movie starring [name of some actor here]? Really? Are we so detached from reality that we think these people are parts of our lives?
What's happened to our society that we're all wailing an gnashing our teeth over this sort of thing?
There has been a bunch of actual shitty things that happened this year.
The UK demonstrated it couldn't be trusted to vote in a referendum about the continued viability of itself as an international consideration: instead decided to consign itself to ultimately be marginalised archipelago off the coast of Europe. The Europe we used to belong to. The Europe we were better for being part of, and that was better for us to be part of. Nah. We were all a bit easily swayed by shit-eating-grin-wearing nazi-wannabes like Nigel Farage, who managed to convince us that there's too many immigrants here already, and this is a problem. I realise it's now seen as a bit trite and simplistic to suggest the exit-voters were all about stopped those that "come over here, and take our jobs", but I've yet to see any evidence that that's not why the vote went the way it does. What's worse is that when speaking to exit-voters about these foreigners "coming over here... etc", I point out to them that I'm a foreigner who has specifically come over here to take a job. Without a pause for breath I'm reassured that immigrants like me are OK. And it's not cos I'm a Kiwi. It's cos I'm fuckin' white and I speak English (kinda ;-). I'm so embarrassed for this country - my home - that there are so many people who think this way that they have an impact on national policy.
One of the actual bad things about 2016 is that the UK fucked itself. It voted to fuck itself. We've become Country McCuntFace.
Oh... Jesus... then there's that freak that the States elected to be president. The one good thing about that is that it stopped making Poms look collectively stupid, and reminded us that USA will always go one better than anyone else. Even if it's in the "how to fuck up a vote and ruin your country" stakes. Even if Trump doesn't do anything stupid (and there's no chance of that happening), you've made yerselves an international laughing stock for the next four years. Oh, fuck it, knowing you lot it'll be eight years.
The jury is still out as to whether you've inadvertently elected a Russian goon as president too. Inadvertently in a two-fold way: the electorate certainly didn't mean to; and - less certainly - Trump doesn't realise he's being played. That one could pan out either way, I think.
At the same time the Four Horsemen are present and accounted for with the same list of war, famine, pestilence (oh, and the other one is "conquest", apparently... had to look that one up) that goes on all year every year. Because we don't bloody learn. Because we care about celebrities but not actual people. Especially fucking foreigners (ask yerself this quickly: how many marketplace bombs were detonated in various countries around the world today? How many can you name? How many innocent people just doing their shopping died? I read of a couple, but I too cannot name where they were, and the body count didn't seem memorable).
Second update:To be clear, I posted this before the well-publicised attack in Istanbul. This news broke about 15min after I posted the article :-(
If the media is to be believed, we still can't even collectively own-up to screwing the planet's climate, ultimately at our expense. I can't believe that debate is still going on. Well it's not a debate. There is no indecision. Except for the media's agenda of perpetuating an idea that there is a debate.
Another real problem is encapsulated in that previous para: "if the media is to be believed". Who the fuck knows if the media can be believed any more? I used to think I could at least trust the Beeb and the Guardian to deliver my slightly-left-of-centre truth each day. But it's becoming more and more clear that the editorial slant of all news organs is now more important to them than actually telling us what's going on. I can't believe people read the Daily Mail or watch / read Fox News as a mechanism for becoming informed. Well I should believe it, because... well... refer back to the UK EU Membership Referendum and the US general election. That said: really a lot of people didn't vote in the UK referendum, and a cadre of morons in the States decided they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Clinton (because they wanted Bernie instead or some other fucking stupid excuse)... if only to stop Trump.
At the same time fascist freaks like Le Pen and Wilders in their respective countries seem to be gaining traction via a similar way of public thinking. Earlier in the year people were "celebrating" that the far right was defeated in Austria, whilst glossing over the fact that they were only just defeated. 46% of the vote went to the nazi-lite bloke.
There's 14min of 2016 left.
Back to the celebrity thing. if that's yer yardstick of how to measure "good years" vs "bad years", then yer in for a shock. Statistically the baby boomers are gonna start dying now. We're seeing the periphery of this happening now (statistical outliers). It's only going to get "worse". It's also going to get worse because the bulk of the people wringing their hands about such things grew up in a fairly golden time without much war or conflict or challenge in their lives, so "my favourite musician just died" really does seem to them to be something significant in their lives. Plus we've also grown-up in an age of increased "communications intrusion" into our lives. So we're just exposed to more celebrity than earlier generations used to. So we'll be finding a sea of dead celebrities to get upset about in 2017 too. And perhaps 2018, if Trump and Putin allow us to have one.
And all the while we will focus on this, and soak up the bread and circuses that our media will feed us whilst the truly shitty things in this world continue unabated.
So that's uplifting.
For me, 2016 was as follows:
- my sister did not die of cancer. That was on the cards at the beginning of the year, but she's OK.
- My brother seems none the worse for wear after a heart-attack in 2015. That's cool.
- My dad died. I have concluded I am simply never going to move on from that.
- My mum is in a secure ward at her care home, as she's a bit too loopy these days to be allowed out in public.
- My son is 5, and he's a dude! I don't get to see him as often as I'd like. More often than his mother would like though, I think ;-)
- I have blood pressure "issues", but they seem mostly OK at the moment.
- My job is still pretty good. Perhaps not as good as it was a coupla years ago, but there's opportunities to be taken advantage of still. It's cool.
- I've got excellent friends and rellies(**) and - on the whole - I don't have much to gripe about.
- Oh! I have a mate who's Nan was 99 throughout most of 2016, and she's still around now it's 2017. I've never met her, but this pleases me.
As for 2017 (and, bugger it, typing this in a second time as it didn't save the first time):
- I'm about ready to give up on the UK. I might shift to Ireland if I can. I have a job there if I want it (yes, boss, I do!), and Dublin is a lot closer to Galway where my boy is than London is.
- I'm gonna go to NZ one last time to watch cricket with me mates (South Africa will be handing NZ it's arse on a plate, but hey: it's still cricket). After that I intend to only return for family funerals.
- More likely than not I will simply watch my health than do anything about improving it. :-/
- At work I've had a rough patch for the last month or so in which I've been asking "remind me again why I subject myself to this each day? Oh, a visa. That's right", but I hope to get back into my rhythm of really enjoying going to work each day and hanging out with me team.
- I do also need to do something about keeping myself "technologically fresh". I need to study more and experiment more.
- First things first though: I need another beer (*).
Oops... I meant to press "send" bang on 00:00:00. Missed it by a few sec.
(*) just in case you wondered... no, not really drunk when writing this: I've had three beers over the course of as many hours. The poor quality of the writing is down to being in a rush, as I only decided to write this at 11:30pm, and wanted it done by midnight.
(**) I have two entire other families (long story) I did not mention in this article. But only cos they're all trucking along fine.