Tuesday, 30 December 2014

So long 2014, it's been harrowing.

Firstly, congratulations if you're reading this. Not because you're reading what is sure to be yet another average account of events by yours truly, no, commiserations would be far more a fitting. Congratulations that you're able to read anything at all, having not been carted off in a body bag on national television. At least the population crisis stagnated a little this year. If you also managed to stave off bankruptcy and can still fit into your clothes without doing the post-Christmas-hop; because you ate and drank more than a spliff-head with the munchies before throwing away enough food to feed Benefits Street for entire upcoming year, then even more reason to celebrate.

Even by woeful, depression inducing standards of modern times, 2014 was grim. One cataclysmic disaster after another.  Yet more kiddy fiddling horror bubbling it's way to the surface and our already horrified attention. Much loved national celebrity treasures, popping their clogs on a seemingly daily basis. I'm not sure I watched one football match that wasn't preceded by a minutes silence......2014 was bloody miserable. Not even the worst joke in Showbiz that is longevity of Peter Andre's naggingly annoying career, would cease.

We had the Sydney coffee shop hostage situation, sponsored by Lindt. I'm surprised that food establishments haven't staged these sooner. Such is the competition between coffee shops these days, for instance, you'd have thought that a 24-7 Sky news news camera focused in on your company logo would do wonders for business. Once the horror of the event had subsided, we'd have already been subliminally mind-raped by their marketing ploy and have the word Starbucks etched into our brains for the foreseeable future, like a mild form of post-traumatic-stress disorder. Any publicity, as they say, is good publicity. If you think that's in poor taste, then I'm just following suit from the marketing campaigns of profit hungry supermarket chains, designed to seduce you into spending your money on their products. If you can't beat them, join them. Sainsbury's, using WW1; depicting a football match that hasn't even been proven to have actually happened in order to entice you into consumerism, is a prime example. Coca-cola have somehow convinced us that witnessing a convoy of red trucks armed with black, teeth rotting poison, marks the moment we all start to feel that christmas buzz. We've lost our way somewhere along the line. Soon, we'll have toy manufacturers joining forces with the NSPCC, telling us that unless you get your children exactly what they want for Christmas, it'll be akin to child abuse. I really ought to seek a career in marketing, I'm a wasted talent.

As if all that wasn't bad enough. This was followed up by a mass execution at a school in Pakistan, another horrific accident in Glasgow; a city that had already been hit by a freak helicopter accident this very time last year. Then, yet another passenger jet goes down in the far east. Only today, another shooting in the US, where this time a woman has been shot dead by her two year old son, TWO! They'll never learn about guns will they, those yanks, even when the must have christmas toy is a Fisher Price "My First Handgun". Happy f***king Christmas! If nothing else, this did allow me to take stock of how lucky I am, something that I forget all too often.

Celebrity deaths hit an all-time high this year, none of them were for who I'd wished for either, just to add insult to injury. If I die before my now laminated list of 'top 100 most excruciatingly painful celebrities that wrongly exist and breathe' (we have all one, right?), I'm going to be annoyed.....even more than usual. Bob Geldof was handed out yet another personal tragedy, proof that doing good deeds for others doesn't always bring good fortune. Indeed, no matter how much he suffers, he still remains positive. Responding only to ask us for more of our "fucking money" to help the less fortunate, only for people to slag him off anyway, mainly because he's scruffy and articulate. Russell Brand seems to be suffering the same fate, if only everyone was beautiful and selfish, then we could all live happily ever after, eh?

My cinematic highlight of the year was Interstellar, not only because it was the only time I'd visited the cinema to watch something that didn't have a 'U' rating (I have kids), but it was the first time I'd gone to the cinema on my own.....whilst also smuggling in some alcohol. It was an interesting experience, but ultimately one that felt only a stone's throw away from drinking myself into a stupor on a park bench, defecating myself and being woken up by a stray dog marking it's scent on my face.

2014 saw out the lives of two of comedies finest talents. Most tragically, perhaps, was Robin Williams taking his own life. A man that lit up a world so brimming with negativity, became of victim of misery himself. It seems inconceivable; that someone with an incomparable amount of spirit and a god-given gift for making people happy, should extinguish his life in this way. The way he died, made Rik Mayall's passing more of a celebration. The bitterness of his sudden death was quickly consumed and overtaken by the many memories he gave myself and millions of others. His "Hey Mr Bassman" line is the screensaver in my head, occasionally signing it out loud for no apparent reason. I've inadvertently passed this on to my daughter, who will have no idea who he is! BBC3's tribute programme, Lord of Misrule, captured perfectly the joy he gave people and gave a fascinating insight to the life and times of a truly mesmeric performer. He was a force of nature. You could see how much he was missed just from the faces of those who contributed their memories of him.

My new years resolution, if you can call it that, is to take that kind of free, self-awareness abandoning spirit and just go with the flow. When you're so engrossed in life and the stress that it brings, it can be easy to lose sight of what's really important.

For much of this year, I've been unemployed. It's surprising how people react when you tell them you don't have a job. People react like you've told them you only have 6 weeks to live. Some people are clearly disgusted to be in the presence of a claimer. Despite having worked for 95% of my adult life (although that figure is dwindling with every occasion I get my scabby little hands on your taxes), I occasionally get looked upon like Joseph Merrick after being acid attacked by a hooded youth, before being dragged several miles of cobbled streets by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The upside has been that much in the same way as someone who's got a terminal disease, I've found myself enlightened. It took a long time, but I'm enjoying an epiphany of epic proportions. I just hope that when I get back into work, I don't let myself slide back to my old stressed out negative ways.

Whatever this new year brings, don't let the bastards get you down, don't take life too seriously and maybe try spending a little less time chatting via social media. Pick up the house phone (the poor, neglected machine) and actually talk, go and visit people, go outside. It's something I intend to practise a little more myself. Don't fixate yourself on the things you don't have, the chances are, you probably already have everything you need.

Happy new year peeps x

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