ITEM: Ah, 2016 it’s been three weeks now, and I’m not missing you at all. When you began, we all had such high hopes, given the many disappointments of 2015. There was the chance for great things, but I guess you decided to follow in the footsteps of your predecessor, and I suppose I can understand that need to emulate what had gone before.
But did you have to be such a fucking over achiever?
ITEM: David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, to name just a few.
So did 2016 take any nasty people?
The right wing politicians and unscrupulous oligarchs all seem to be insufferably healthy and living high on the hog.
ITEM: Despite general doom and gloom, 2016 ended on a personal high for me. The Actual Girlfriend and I were in London for the New Year and had tickets to see the fireworks, though there was some doubt as to whether my idea of photo-identity would be accepted by event security (lacking the customary passport/driving licence type of documentation, I’d brought along a copy of a magazine that I’d given an interview to over ten years ago, and had even dug up the jumper I’d been wearing in the photo that accompanied the article). My cunning plan was to propose to TAG at five minutes to midnight, with fireworks lighting up the night sky immediately after she accepted (it appears I do have a romantic streak after all).
Things didn’t quite go according to plan. With hindsight we should have left for the fireworks venue much earlier in the evening. As it was with an hour and a half in hand we stepped out into a London gone crazy, with every tube station we went for closed and the police cordoning off various streets, so that getting anywhere became a nightmare. At times it felt like we’d strayed into a protest march and were being kettled.
Eventually we got fed up with walking round in circles trying to find a way to Embankment and headed back to our hotel in Covent Garden. I proposed to TAG up in our room and, after taking a moment to convince herself that I was serious, she accepted. We saw in the New Year down in the hotel bar, watching Robbie Williams perform and the firework display on three big screen TVs, but mostly just smiling at each other.
And so I begin 2017 as an engaged man.
ITEM: New Year’s Day in London we paid a visit to Harrods and the other posh shops in Knightsbridge. It really was a stranger in a strange land kind of experience.
I took a perverse delight in wandering through endless galleries of designer gear with ludicrous price tags while dressed in clothes purchased at The Factory Shop and Primark. I like to think the staff thought I was an eccentric billionaire.
The toilets in Harrods were described as a ‘Luxury Men’s Room’, but I didn’t venture inside to see what this luxury consisted of (a manservant to unzip you perhaps) for fear that I might end up spending far more than a penny.
In Harvey Nichols TAG became interested in a gem heavy necklace and engaged the sales person, who was dressed rather like a top of the range funeral director, in conversation as to its merits.
TAG: How much is it?
Sales Person: Two hundred and twenty.
Sales Person (eyes misting over): Yes.
There was other stuff about how many gems were in it and how many carats they all weighed, but I’d lost interest around the 220 mark and didn’t take any of this in.
ITEM: While in London we did some other touristy things, with a flying visit to the British Museum and a somewhat longer trip to the Tower of London, where we saw just about everything except the crown jewels – the queue was too long, and after Harvey Nichols it would probably have been an anti-climax.
Monday evening found us at the Royal Opera House for a magical performance of The Nutcracker, which was made all the more memorable by the lead ballerina falling over not once, not twice, but three times. I suspect something slippery got dropped on the stage, and was impressed by the way in which each time she just got up and carried on, instead of simply lying there while the physio came on and attended to her injury, all the time protesting that she’d never dance again. Professional footballers have much to learn from ladies of the Royal Ballet.
ITEM: One evening last week I saw a young man standing in the doorway of Boots the Chemist sheltering from the rain, with an electric toothbrush in his mouth and a mobile phone pressed to his ear.
A couple of days later, I saw somebody in the street sucking on one of those vape devices and realised that it hadn’t been an electric toothbrush at all.
A pity, as in the interim I’d amused myself no end with the idea that I’d encountered some new form of fetish.
ITEM: Recently I’ve been exposed to Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and also recently I read a news article that stated six branches of Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain were to close their doors.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
It has the potential to be the most explosive and contentious, not to mention watchable, episode of a reality TV show ever.
ITEM: I hope 2017 is kind to you and all those you care about.