Phew! I missed another two months so I am now obliged to set up that twitter account I suggested I might. 2013 shuffled out and we are days into 2014. What did last year bring? Let us be systematic!
So at the top of the year, January saw Barack Obama swerve America clear of the “fiscal cliff” despite Republican feet on the gas pedal to prove a petty point. There would be more of this later on. The Church of England decided to allow gay clergy in civil partnerships to be bishops…if they were celibate…yes, makes perfect sense, God is fine with gays as long as they’re perfectly sexless. Like ecclesiastical Ken dolls France went to Mali to stop some mujahideen and Jimmy Saville was revealed to be Le Grand Pervert with his sexual crimes numbering into the hundreds! Militants took over a BP gas facility in Algeria, and the resulting operation to retrieve it ended in a bloodbath (mostly of hostages). Speaking of death, Lindsay Sandiford was sentenced to execution in Indonesia for being a drug mule.
Barack Obama (the Bad Mamma Jama) was inaugurated in his second term as president, laughing in the face of the gaffe-prone Mitt Romney; though not really laughing, he’s too regal to laugh at Mitt in public. Davey Cameron (not a Bad Mamma Jama) put out the Tory manifesto with the promise of referendum on EU memebership if re-elected. To close January, the Lib Dems pushed out their bottom lips and shook their heads like stroppy children to a bill about redrawing constituency boundaries before the 2015 election – Nicky wasn’t having it.
February! Richard III’s skeleton is found in Leicester, the royal family proving that not even being dead for hundreds of years stops people being polarised by them – York wanted him back, Leicester said they should have him, thus a tug of war over a body began. Chris Huhne, shockingly (but to no one’s surprise as to his guilt), pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice: something, something, expenses, wife, speeding tickets…The House of Commons overwhelmingly supports same-sex marriage legislation, this pleased many people including myself. Pope Benedict XVI announces that he will go on a holiday for the rest of forever.
Cait Reilly claimed that being required to work unpaid at Poundland under the government’s back-to-work programme was unlawful, the Court of Appeal stuck two fingers up to the government by siding with Miss Reilly. Right on Cait. Oscar Pistorius is charged with the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in an incident (shooting her over and over again in the dark after hopping on his stumps to the bathroom door) in his home in Pretoria. His trial was eventually set for March of this year. As a lovely parting shot for the month, the credit rating agency Moody’s reduced the UK’s rating from AAA to AA1 much to the total fucking confusion of anyone not holding an economics qualification.
In March, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela bit the big one aged 58. Vicky Price and Chris Huhne were sent down for those speeding tickets, like a crappy Bonny and Clyde. North Korea waved its dick around only to find that the UN Security Council had slapped a ring of fiery sanctions on its balls but went ahead and left the armistice which had ended the Korean War. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina, is elected as the new Pope following months of elections so boring that the media forced us to watch a chimney. The 76-year-old Bergoglio is the first pontiff from Latin America and a Jesuit, so my fingers are still crossed to discover if he is also our first annoyingly socialist, samba Pope.
A High Court ruling backs the British government on nine out of 10 points in a complex case whose outcome, according to the rail minister, effectively gives a “green light” to the controversial HS2 high-speed rail scheme: this was not nearly buried. Lastly, Cyprus was offered a $13bn bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The terms of the rescue require Cyprus to raise $7.5bn by taxing bank deposits or in other words giving their people the biggest fright of their lives when they went to go and get money out for ouzo.
We’re into April, where Kim Jong-un or The Korean Who Isn’t PSI, says he’ll expand North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The UN puts a frowny face on his Wall. The British government instigates the “bedroom tax” because you know, there aren’t enough pointlessly punitive taxes on the poor. The British people put a frowny face on Whitehall’s Wall. Margaret Thatcher, first female UK PM, dies: half of the nation weeps for nana, the other half burns effigies of the woman they considered Satan’s Bride – divisive is an understatement yet she receives a fuck-off huge state funeral. I wonder if the lady’s turning? A man who used to drive a bus, Nicolas Maduro, gets to a drive a country as Venezuelan president.
The Boston marathon bombing kills five and injuring 264. The Tsarnaev brothers are identified by the FBI as the perpetrators, Tamerlan is shot and Dzhokar is taken in; yeah, sorry, no jokes about this one. Rana Plaza, an eight-storey commercial building, collapses in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 1,129 people and injuring a further 2,515. The factory produced clothing for major brands such as Primark and Walmart, among others. Hmm, the shoddy working conditions of a faceless capitalist resulting in the deaths of worker ants? Marx is nodding his full and luscious beard.
We add the 81-year-old William Roache of soap opera Coronation Street to our list of idols turned paedophidols in May. The UK Independence Party performed unexpectedly well in local elections; UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and every broadcast journo for a damned week, claimed the results signified a “sea-change in British politics”. Nigel Farage, for those not in the know, is a cigar smoking, beer swilling “man of the people” (read populist prick). Lee Rigby, a Drummer of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, is killed near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London. He is knocked down with a car, then attacked with knives and cleavers in an attempt to decapitate him. His two assailants, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, are wounded by police gunfire before being arrested. Once again, not even I can find a laugh in this. They are charged with Rigby’s murder late in the month.
The High Court ruled that a tweet in 2012 about Lord McAlpine, implying that he was a wrong ‘un, by Sally Bercow was libellous. The Speaker’s wife would eventually pay £15,000 in damages. Patrick Mercer MP resigns from the Tories after he is embroiled in a “cash for questions” scandal after apparently offering to lobby on behalf of the Fiji regime (a weirdly incongruous military dictatorship) in return for payment. Yum, sleaze.
June 2013 was the month of Edward Snowden and his deeply embarrassing leaks about an NSA surveillance programme to get hold of secure user information through major companies. To no one surprise, it turned out that spies had been spying: you know, doing their jobs. However, the real issue was all of the lying and horrid infringement of liberty, apparently some people are pretty sensitive about this. Then again, we’ve all been shedding our civil liberties for the War on Terror faster than a pair of drunken teens on prom night who promptly engage in profoundly disappointing coitus, whose depth of awfulness is only revealed the morning after. Welcome to the morning after. Ed had to go on a Leo DiCaprio-style Catch Me If You Can romp around the world to avoid US charges for being a very naughty boy. A footnote to the month are the huge calls in Egypt for their democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi to fuck right off.
Last month’s footnote is July’s big news as President Morsi given the military boot, to the delight of any Egyptian who isn’t in the Muslim Brotherhood. They on the other hand were angrier than a fitting wolverine. Ed Miliband shops in the Falkirk branch of his own Labour party for shifty selection processes. The Irish parliament’s lower house passes the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill of if you want to be succinct, backpedals heinously on liberty. George Zimmerman of California is found not guilty of the second-degree murder or manslaughter of teenager Trayvon Martin; read again, white guy shoots young black guy whose crime was carrying candy in his pockets and gets off without even a slap on the wrist. People were angry. I was angry. As a footnote, Zimmerman was later arrested again. I was made much happier by the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK later that month so what if it might have been a cynical ploy by Cameron to distract or garner liberal credentials. And some royal baby was born.
Everyone’s favourite sexy whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted one-year temporary political asylum in Russia at the top of August. Egypt continues to play for Failed State of the Year in what the Human Rights Watch describe as “the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history”, supporters of ousted President Morsi are massacred by the security services, health ministry figures puts the death toll of the attacks at 638, others count the dead in thousands. A state of emergency is declared for a month. But Syria, keen not to be outdone in the constant atrocity stakes sees 1,429 people (according to US estimates), including many children, killed in chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus, apparently (almost definitely) involving sarin gas. Bad things come in threes so of course the controversial badger cull to stem TB begins in southern UK…What!? You don’t find this horrible and equitable to the slaughter of innocents! Yeah, maybe it isn’t. Davey Wavey Cameron recalled parliament early to vote for military action in Syria, only to be defeated by traitors in his own party who were swiftly put to death. No, sorry, not Russia.
September shimmied up with the US backing military action in Syria and then John Kerry doing what in fencing is called a “fléche”: lunging at your enemy and then seeming to stumble before hitting home and scurrying off like a right old card. His ditsy remark about avoiding conflict if Syria gave up all their chemical weapons but this not ever happening meant it actually happened. Vladimir Putin managed to cast himself as a peacemaker by setting up the diplomatic situation to let Syria dump its weapons of mass child murder. In other news, Ed Miliband decided to not throw the Falkirk branch under the bus. Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani wrote an article in The Washington Post which amounted to him saying, “Okay, America might not be the Great Satan”.
A group of Greenpeace activists protesting against Russian oil drilling are arrested after the Russian authorities board their vessel in the Barents Sea. Protest in Russia. Recipe for arrest. At the UKIP, Godfrey Bloom, a man so ridiculous as to border on a satire of himself, upstaged his party leader by calling a room of female supporters “sluts” this is after his “Bongo Bongo Land” outburst and hitting a reporter with some paper. Godfrey was expelled from the party. Al-Shabaab militants attacked the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi killing sixty-two people, much of the terror was captured on convenient handheld devices: 2013 was the year when mayhem was captured on camera phones for anyone to LOL at. Ed Miliband, speaking at the Labour party conference, vowed to freeze energy prices. The Tories did not LOL at this. The UN Security Council agreed a resolution that formally requires Syria to hand over its chemical weapons. No one LOLed at this.
Ding, ding, ding! Ring the death bell! October opened with about 359 people died when a boat carrying migrants from Libya sinks off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Wait for it, eight days later, at least 34 people die in a similar wreck. It was like death was doing a rumba about the Mediterranean to no one’s amusement. In less lethal news, first trading in the newly issued shares in the Royal Mail are heavily oversubscribed, pushing valuation well over the forecast £3.3bn much to the chagrin of the general public who could see the thing had been wickedly undervalued. I promised we’d see that “fiscal cliff” again, it was one night before a debt ceiling deadline that could have pushed the US into default when the US House and Senate approved a bill to fund the government until early 2014. How distressingly American, Washington had become an overblown blockbuster with improbable, illogical plot lines.
George Osborne announced that the UK will allow Chinese companies to invest in the British nuclear industry. Mark this moment people, our Chinese overlords are coming and make sure your kids have learned Mandarin and Cantonese so that they get a better job than house boy. Le Monde newspaper says the NSA has been spying on French diplomats – whoops! The owners of the Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland announced its closure, due to an industrial dispute. The decision was later reversed after trade unionists backed down. Capitalists scored one, unionists scored nil, but in this instance the trade union would rather have kept its jobs than won some Pyrrhic victory. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former editors of the extinct News of the World, are among eight defendants in the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, who are charged with a range of offences including conspiring to access voicemail messages illegally. Nobody but Hugh Grant cared anymore though.
November, or Pre-Christmas Sales Period as the retailers have it in their calendars, had Plebgate continue despite almost no one giving a shit anymore but the IPCC insists on investigating three Police Federation types who were misleading about a meeting with former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell. Paul Flowers, Methodist minister and former chairman of the troubled Co-operative Bank, is revealed to be a real fan of crystal meth and crack cocaine. The scandal breaks barely two weeks after his testimony to the Treasury Select Committee revealed an alarming ignorance about the bank’s finances. Oh, an all the porn he had on company computers, and the rent boys he hired. Mr Flowers, a very naughty minister. And, the first of the Artic 30 protesters being held in Russia are bailed. The first reasonable home affair Russia conducted in months.
After lengthy negotiations with the US and other world powers, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear development programme; some people thought it would take real flying pigs to affect this change, all it took was a moderate Iranian president – again, rare as a flying pig. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, unveiled the Scottish National Party’s independence blueprint. This might be my royalist leanings coming out but I’d see that man hanged, alright, definitely my royalism coming out. Bloody treasonous fucking…moving on! The Italian parliament voted to expel former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, following his conviction for tax fraud. Not even Papa Silvio could avoid the wrath of the state even after making a law about not sending people his age to prison, which he made just before he stopped being in office. Not just an old pervert, a wily pervert too. The trial opened of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, charged with the murder of Lee Rigby. Talk about being soldiers of God did not garner public favour.
December held the news that no one wanted to hear but which we had all been expecting: Nelson Mandela died aged 95, after years of ill health. I’m sure you all sick to the back teeth of fawning homages to a man who I, and many others, truly did believe was a great man and a true political legend. A flawed man who became a beacon of forgiveness, almost Christ-like in his influence on South Africa. His nation mourned, the world that had aided in the struggle against apartheid mourned, and world leaders attended his memorial in Johannesburg. Where, excellently, the unctuous President Jacob Zuma was heckled by his electorate; drawing a sharp contrast between a great man who had passed and the small man who remained in his stead.
That was 2013. Good game team, lets see the same mistakes this year, okay?