It’s not easy, condensing 365 days and one second into a concise, readable post. But what the hell, I’ve got nothing going on this afternoon, so I’ll have a go. Here, for your enjoyment dear reader, are some of the key events of 2005. (Pithy comments added where applicable.) Enjoy, and Happy New January to you all. . . .
Yet again, the world failed to heed my suggestion that New Year’s Day be postponed until 1st March. Seriously, it would work out better for everyone this way. January and February – compositely known as ‘Helluary’ (© The Realist, 1999) – should be a period of mass hibernation for us all. Nobody’s got any money, everyone wants to lose weight and detox, the weather is shit, and there’s nothing much going on. A two month sleep would solve all of these problems. Until then, I guess we’re just stuck with it.
As a Londoner I expect I am not alone in singling out the bombings of 7/7 as the most prominent event of the year. It was strange in that, although it was always expected, it came out of the blue and on the back of a week of events that had actually lifted spirits around the capital. Live 8 had happened the weekend before and then, on 6th July, London won the 2012 Olympics (although the jury is out on whether or not this will be a good thing – especially as London residents will have to foot the bill for £625m, through our ever extortionate council tax bills). Maybe I’m imagining it but there was almost a sense of. . . optimism in London at the time. But this was soon replaced by horror as a group of home-grown Islamic fantasists killed themselves and others by detonating suicide bombs on the underground and a bus. A similar event occurred on 21/7, but it was a naff effort. Depressingly though, we can probably expect more – and worse – in 2006.
Having no real agenda and being prepared to die in the process stands in stark comparison to the terrorism inflicted on the mainland by the IRA in the 70s and 80s. It almost made one pine for the old provos – at least they (more often than not, anyway) gave a quick courtesy call in advance. And on that subject, in good news for the peace process, the IRA officially ceased hostilities in the very same month.
An interesting year for UK politics. May saw Labour returned to government for a historic (for them, anyway) third term, albeit with a much reduced majority. Tony Blair announced his intention to stand down before the next election (much to Gordon Brown’s relief) but refused to specify any particular time (much to Gordon Brown’s despair). Michael Howard stood down as leader of the Conservatives, leading to a six month pantomime as the Tories sought a new leader. In the end, they plumped for David Cameron: a youthful, centrist reformer. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Cameron faces an uphill struggle – despite Blair’s relative weakness, it is still going to take a swing of enormous proportions to get the Conservatives back in power. He’s already parked his tanks on New Labour’s lawn, now watch him try and steal clothes from the Liberal Democrats too.
George W. Bush continued to amuse. His lowest point was undoubtedly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, amid allegations of incompetence and indifference . Meanwhile, his decision (overturned in the end) to nominate his personal lawyer and lifelong friend Harriet Miers as a candidate for the Supreme Court was, quite frankly, surreal. Given the criticism he has faced for cronyism in the past, that he would have the balls to pursue such an aim was astonishing. His defence? “(Harriet was) the best person I could find”(!!) Coming up in 2006: Bush finally ditches Donald Rumsfeld and replaces him with his dentist.
Still, at least he’s refusing to bow to pressure to withdraw all the troops from Iraq in a hurry. The aftermath of the invasion was chaotic enough – to then leave before seeing the job through would be the blunder of the century. Oh yes, Iraq is a mess alright. No change there as we approach 2006. But there is still hope of a better future. In the Iraqi elections this year, the turnout has eclipsed levels seen in Western nations which proves, without doubt, that the majority of the population wants democracy in their region. All is not lost. Although there’s still that lunatic in Iran to contend with.
The Pope is dead. . . long live the Pope! John Paul II died in April and was replaced by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Controversially, the Vatican selected a white, elderly conservative to head their ever dwindling (in Europe, anyway) numbers. Seeing as he’s 78 years old, we can probably expect a repeat performance in a few years time. Consider him Pope Interim I.
So these were the biggies, at least to my memory. Other notable stories: the David Blunkett saga. Michael Jackson somehow found not guilty. Riots in France. The collapse of the European Constitution. George Galloway before the senate committee. The trial of Saddam Hussein. New licensing laws for the UK. Civil unions for gays. Oh, and Chelsea continue to bore their way to dominance in the Premiership, funded by suspect Russian petro-dollars. Bastards.
Notable deaths in 2005:
Arthur Miller. Hunter S. Thompson. Pope John Paul II. Sir John Mills. Richard Whiteley. Ted Heath. Robin Cook. Mo Mowlam. Simon Wiesenthal. Ronnie Barker. Rosa Parks. John Fowles. George Best. Richard Pryor.
Albums of the year, in no particular order:
The White Stripes – Get Behind Me, Satan
The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
Hard-Fi – Stars Of CCTV
Gorillaz – Demon Days
Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better
The Darkness – One Way Ticket To Hell. . . And Back
Coldplay – X&Y
Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (EP)
Comedies of the year, in no particular order:
The Mighty Boosh
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The “Sorry, I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about” award:
A dead heat between Little Britain and Kaiser Chiefs (like a bad Blur tribute band)
Liberal Elite Twat Of The Year:
So ends this review and so ends (well, nearly) 2005. See you in 2006.