Curiouser and curiouser, cried Alice
So, 2016. Not what you’d call a humdinger of a year, all things considered.
It was the sort of year that made you wonder what else could go wrong.
It started badly with the death of David Bowie and progressed with the loss of so many others that it left many of us reeling. Sir Terry Wogan, the voice of my childhood, Victoria Wood, author of so many of my favourite comedy sketches, Prince, Ali, Garry Shandling, Alan Rickman – that one really hurt.
Closer to home, we said goodbye this year to two of the nicest men in the merchanting industry – John Hauxwell and John O’Carroll Bailey.
In the wider world, it wasn’t much better. The killing of people going about their Christmas shopping in Berlin yesterday had too many echoes of the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, the bombings in Brussels, the continuing refugee crisis, the slaying in cold blood of the MP Jo Cox and the horrors emerging from Syria. All indicative of man’s inhumanity to man and the inability to accept that other people have a different point of view.
Politically, too, it was a decidedly odd year. Cameron, having thrown his toys out of the playpen over the result of a referendum that he was an idiot to have called in the first place, then clambered out and stomped off into, probably, oblivion, even if it’s a quite comfortable oblivion. If I had told any of you on December 31 2015 that within eight months Boris Johnson would be our Foreign Secretary you’d have told me to lay off the Pinot Grigio. I feel like I’ve done nothing but talk about Brexit and the referendum all year and still it rumbles on. Hard or soft Brexit – do any of us even really know what that means to us, in our businesses and our pockets?
We’ve also seen the demise of any kind of credible opposition to the Government. When the Government was defeated in the High Court over the Article 50 triggering mechanism, the resultant squabbling between Tories should have been manna from heaven for Labour. Brown, Blair and even Milliband, for all their many, many faults, would have been all over that. Instead Corbyn’s Labour simply continued with their own internal backbiting.
Over the water, the defeat of someone who has dedicated her life to political service by a businessman-turned-reality-TV-star with decidedly dubious tastes in political colleagues will have far-reaching consequences. The scary thing is that we have no idea how bad – or good – those consequences will be.
On the other hand. 2016 was really rather marvellous in certain areas. Sporting ones, mainly. The England rugby union team reinvented itself after the embarrassingly early exit from the World Cup to in not just the Calcutta Cup again, but also the Triple Crown and the Six Nations. And we went on the beat Australia on their home turf three times.
Wimbledon 2016 saw a Brit winning his third Grand Slam title to be followed up by a second Olympic gold medal and the number one world ranking. In fact, Britain is now number one on the world in men’s singles, doubles and wheelchair tennis and that all happened in 2016.
Ah yes, the Olympics. Wow. Max Whitlock’s three medals, Amy Tinkler’s bronze-winning floor routine, Jack Laugher and Chris Mears diving 3m into that strangely green swimming pool at EXACTLY the same time as each other, the incredible Laura Trott, weighed down by all her golds, nearly as many as husband Jason Kenney. The rowers – gold and silver, respectively, in the men’s and women’s eights, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning storming through for their second gold, Katherine Grainger, my sporting heroine, coming out of retirement to win silver with Vicky Thornley. Mo Farah. The unbeatable, amazing Mo Farah. The hockey team. The badminton players. Nick Skelton, finally winning gold at an age most of us are planning to have retired by. And I haven’t even started on the incredible Paralympians.
So, 2016 was, like the proverbial curate’s egg, good in parts. And no matter how bad it was at times, it also gave us Planet Earth 2 and Ed Balls dancing to Gangnam Style.
If you are ever in need of a pick-me-up, the grizzly bear scratching his back from Planet Earth 2 – https://youtu.be/8CnFo7qinng should do it. As will Ed. Pure joy. I cannot watch either of these without grinning – https://youtu.be/Czqtjk_iGFU