Top ten off the bottom of the deck, 2012

This year has been utterly devastating for some, and thoroughly elating for others.

Rather than get a warmly self-congratulatory list of personal achievements together, it seems much more apposite to pick out ten abject failures (some mine) to celebrate the end of an interesting year.

1. We didn’t get any tickets to London 2012, which didn’t really bother me, but the integration of nation and event seemed not to touch me so much as it was supposed to. I was worried about the massive expenditure beforehand, and although I clearly remember watching some defining moments in British athletics, it was through the same television that can show me gun fights and supernatural battle and the strength of the human spirit seven nights a week. We didn’t go and we didn’t see anything in person, and having admitted I was wrong about how good the games were, I wish I’d had tickets. Mind you, it would have helped if I’d registered for some in the first place. At the time, I didn’t realise. Meh.

2. Barack Obama won again and it was simultaneously nowhere near as inspiring as the first time he did, and more interesting and involving than any act I can recall in the last decade of British politics. As I have mentioned before, I went to school with Aidan Burley. His comments on the London 2012 opening ceremony were rightly and roundly treated with ridicule. If the future of politics in the this country is going to be like this, I’m tempted to offer the Queen some of her powers back. Long may she reign.

3. My mates got divorced. And not from each other. And it served to remind me of the following: I’m lucky to have a relationship which seems to work. Nobody is perfect, but plenty of people expect their other half to be. The number of marriages which come under stress and need TLC is 100%. Love is expensive – in money, time, devotion, care, pain, and self. It’s all worth it. It also turns out being a support to a friend who’s getting divorced or is mourning the end of a relationship is quite tricky without coming over as being smug and superior because your marriage is still viable (and hopefully functional and vibrant) but that’s no excuse not to show you care for your mate because those sorts of relationships count too in the long run of things. (Forgive the long sentence. Stream of consciousness isn’t my preferred style.)

4. The General Synod of the Church of England didn’t vote the way people said they should or more accurately it turns out if they’d had a vote that said “We’re going to let women be bishops, is this a bad idea?” two of the houses would have scuppered the vote, even if the laity had supported the status quo, and we’d be looking for the first Bishop of Dibley. It’s always about the phrasing. Any voting system which relies on something other than first past the post and single yes/no questions can be spun simply by the phrasing of a question. What’s more worrying, people are actually publicly challenging the wisdom of the decision. That’s going to cause heartache in the future. I’m actually feeling more inclined to go with the closed chapel and white smoke/black smoke approach.

5. I failed to produce a Cantata. Yes, I know, it’s a personal goal that I set without knowing how things would turn out, but I feel bad because I could have done it if I’d spent less time worrying and drinking beer and doing other stuff that was also fun. Hey ho.

6. I left my place of work and became unemployed albeit for nine days, but it was a worrying time. I’m happier where I am now but have lost about 25% of my pay in real terms, so I need to sort something out in 2013. Mentally I’m a lot happier away from the old place. It was doing nobody any favours, but the internal politics were threatening to sink a ship blessed with a mighty engine but already lacking such things as a compass, a rudder, charts or a ready supply of fuel. When they start burning the souls of the weak to eke out more horsepower nobody will be surprised. I sincerely hope for the sake of those still aboard things change in the coming year.

7. Somebody of my generation was unsure whether our Eurovision entry this year was sung by Engelbert Humperdinck or Ernest Hemingway. I’m not given to ranting off the cuff, but I was tempted to. This isn’t just a case of intellectual snobbery (it is a bit of that, I admit) but also of sheer disbelief. I mean, how are you supposed to confuse the two, apart from the names being vaguely similar?

8. People got poorer if they were poor, and richer if they were rich which should raise few eyebrows but some pertinent questions. Is the current government doing a good job? Could the opposition do better? (No, and doubtful) and most important, how can we engage folks to make the best of themselves and provide for the communities they live in if we cut frontline services even more? Couldn’t we just do away with some of the excess at the top? Imagine if every MP was paid Double the National Minimum Wage for their trouble plus a spartan but secure purpose built flat in London no more than six tube stops from Embankment plus a free travel permit valid on any tram, train, tube or bus? The savings should pay for more policemen to shout rude words at, even if one of them isn’t “Pleb” after all. And if their wages are tied to those of the lowest of the low, it provides serious impetus to get those moving upwards as well.

9. The weather was bad but not so bad we could complain all year round. Coming back to the tent on Bank Holiday Saturday in August, having gone away to Greenbelt, I’m sure I spotted a bloke loading animals onto a boat in pairs. It would certainly explain the weather that followed. As Brits, we expect a certain amount of comedy weather, but next year’s was delivered this year. Next year I expect snow in winter, showers in spring, sun in summer and wind in autumn. By autumn I’ll have lost enough weight to allow myself more curries.

10. There weren’t enough hugs. Physical contact is so important. I love the way groups of young lads in Birmingham take time to shake hands with every group member when they turn up and join in. It’s “cultural” I’m sure, and the Daily Mail probably wouldn’t agree, but it shows a basic of community that we often let slip away. Touch is a sensation we don’t share enough and I’m making a point next year of being a bit more physical with folks. Doesn’t have to be hugs. It could be fist bumps, high fives, kisses on the cheek where appropriate and definitely firm manly handshakes.

That’s my message for 2012. We didn’t all connect enough, and we need to do better. Among the obituaries this year appears to have been the Big Society. 2013 is going to be tough. We’ll be here again next year poorer, weary, and possibly just as hungover. What will get us there is only going to be each other.

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