Firstly are you ok?
I did consider whether or not to write my annual round up this year, given the horrendous things happening in the world right now, but it’s always been a kind of yearly catharsis for me so I’ll forge ahead as per usual, avoiding the topics of war and genocide because there’s no humour or satire to be found in the horrors currently taking place which are entirely beyond my comprehension.
2023 kicked of with a visit from Thor – not the god of thunder but a wandering Arctic walrus who decided to spend New Year’s Eve in Scarborough. However instead of going on a massive bender Thor just hung out on the beach after realising the local Wetherspoons no longer served Skol. The council cancelled its planned firework display so as not to disturb Thor which seemed entirely reasonable since his visit was the most exciting thing to happen in Scarborough since Cannon and Ball did a Summer season there in 1983. No doubt the usual suspects decried this as ‘health and safety gone mad’ and accused Thor of being a ‘woke walrus’ before sending him packing off to Iceland.
February saw the tragic death of Nicola Bulley and the discovery of her body resulted in the arrival of a small army of one of the most peculiar and disturbing phenomenons of the 21st century – the web sleuths. No crime scene is complete now without a seething mass of vlogging Columbos all trying to achieve influencer status by hampering investigations, tramping all over evidence and generally ignoring the feelings of the victim’s relatives and friends.
In May we were treated to the biggest cosplay event since Comic Con with the coronation of old sausage fingers Charlie. Stealing the show for middle aged men was voluptuous sword mistress Penny Mordaunt. Regally attired in a Poundland themed dress, Penny demonstrated that her magician’s assistant training made her capable of simultaneously holding a sword and walking. Up and down the land blood pressures were going through the roof and you could hear the loud collective ‘phwoar’ emanating from the suburbs.
Tragedy struck again in June with the disappearance of the Titan submersible as it was en route to the Titanic (possibly not the best omen). A group of very rich people paid $250,000 each travel in a vessel which according to the waiver they signed “has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death.” The incident did confirm for me something I’d long suspected – that being a billionaire is rubbish. I mean, I’m sure it beats living in poverty, but constantly having to fill the monotonous void of your existence with increasingly ridiculous and dangerous pastimes seems like a lifestyle choice I’d rather forgo. Also you have to spend your time hanging out with other billionaires which seems about as much fun as boiling your own head.
Speaking of billionaires, July saw memelord Elon Musk instigate the worst rebrand since Marathon became Snickers, with the renaming of Twitter as ‘X’. Gone was the genial birdy icon and in came an aggressive looking X which pretty much sums up the platform’s decline. X just doesn’t really work as a verb the way ‘tweet’ did. “That’s funny, I’m gonna X that!” Nope. Not feeling it. Maybe it’s because Elon Musk believes that we don’t really eXist and are in fact al living in a version of the MatriX. But it’s probably because he’s a knob.
The cultural highlight of 2023 was the cinematic Ying Yang known as Barbenheimer. What started as a joke became a PR start so cunning that no one who works in PR could ever have thought of it. Apparently the way to do it was to see Oppenheimer first then watch Barbie (preferably dressed in pink) as a kind of palette cleanser. Maybe this will pave the way for future contrasting film mashups – ‘Saw Patrol’, ‘Mission Impaddington’, ‘Killers of the Flower Dune’ anyone?
The Tories gathered in Manchester for the annual round of infighting and back stabbing collectively known as the Conservative Party Conference. Bizarrely the hot ticket seemed to be Liz Truss who managed to pack the room for her speech whilst the main hall was littered with just a few old duffers looking for somewhere to kip. Whether they had turned up to hear her speech or just to see if she could find the door this time is anyone guess. Meanwhile Rishi Sunak decided that his visit to the north (or Plebland as he calls it) would be the perfect opportunity to announce the cancelling of the HS2 train line to, you guessed it, the north. So pumped was he with cancelling fever that he went on to cancel a load of stuff which didn’t even exist. Sunak seems to have decided that his political fate lies in the hands of ‘Meldrew Man’ – someone too old to worry about climate catastrophe but is incandescent with rage about pot holes. However nothing could top sexy sword queen Penny Mordaunt. She went full Henry V with a speech encouraging the nation to “Stand up and fight – because when you stand up and fight, the person besides you stands up and fights…” Fortunately most people in the auditorium were too old to stand up so it didn’t all kick off but it did leave everyone a little perplexed as to what exactly they were supposed to be fighting against.
2023 saw a run of celebrity scandals. In May we had Phillip Schofield who had apparently not been honest about something or other he’d done in the past that I thought everyone knew about anyway. It was a bit confusing but it was probably just payback for the cardinal sin of jumping a queue the year before. The most bizarre bit was Holly Willoughby taking on the role as a kind of light entertainment grief counsellor for the nation. It was never like this with Frank Bough.
In July heat was taken off Phil with The Sun running a story about a “high-profile BBC presenter” paying a 17 year old for “sordid images”. Obviously the ‘newspaper’ wanted to create a bit of mystique around the identity of the presenter to increase sales, prompting an intense period of Shaggymania with just about every eligible BBC presenter declaring “it wasn’t me”.
Then in a turn of events even less surprising than having Dave Grohl turn up at a gig and perform a guest spot, along came the ‘shaggers shagger’ Russell Brand. In recent years Russy Wussy has rebranded himself as a kind of cosmic guru and – yawn – champion of free speech. Obviously sensing his #MeToo moment was on the horizon he’d been assembling an army of useful idiots eager to believe whatever conspiracy theory he spouted who would rush to his defence with claims of ‘witch hunts’ and plots against him by the ‘mainstream media’. Let’s hope he gets some time to contemplate his actions in ‘jailey wailey’.
November saw political and technology leaders from around the world gather Bletchley Park for the AI Safety Summit. Elon Musk and Rishi Sunak also turned up and set out to prove their tech bro credentials by demonstrating that they had both seen The Terminator. Personally I welcome our AI overlords. Recent history has shown that democracy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and maybe humans are not quite evolved enough to but put in charge of anything more dangerous than a bouncy castle. I’m all for future government policies being written by ChatGPT, or even a roomful of monkeys with typewriters.
A round up of 2023 couldn’t go by without a mention of Suella ‘Priti, hold my beer’ Braverman. This was the year she went rogue and became the nation’s twisted firestarter in the hope of becoming PM before the next election. Suella was fired for suggesting that people choose homelessness in order to get a feature spread in Hello magazine and was replaced by James ‘spike my beer’ Cleverly – surely the most ironically named man in politics. Jame’s replacement as Foreign Secretary was none other than David ‘put my beer in an offshore trust’ Cameron, the man who had ostensibly screwed everything up in the first place then whistled a jolly tune as he trotted off to his million pound ham cave. Bravo.
Finally, I discovered a new word this year:
(n.) lit. “world-pain”; the depression you feel when the world as it is doesn’t reflect what you think it should be.
I guess it sums up how I’ve felt since I began writing these. However, this year I’m gonna take hot Penny’s advice and stand up and fight – well maybe after I’ve had a cuppa.
Happy New Year. X