Another year of madness

Well, 2019 was a bit of one, wasn’t it? Britain in turmoil as Parliament bickered like schoolkids in a playground while in the US, Donald Trump, the most divisive president in more than 150 years, continued to behave like a 1970s African despot.

At least the end had its moments – no more political stalemate at home, with the added bonus of seeing self appointed prime minister in waiting Jo Swinson’s face as she lost her Dumbartonshire East seat, and only the third ever impeachment of a president in American history – although I doubt it will be successful and by this time next year we could well be looking at the beginning of his second term in power.

The political shenanigans almost detracted from the high points of us winning the cricket World Cup in dramatic fashion (the only time bat and ball has ever been even remotely exciting or entertaining), England’s Rugby World Cup semi final battering of the All Blacks.

Amid the chaos of a country split almost down the middle, international sport again showed itself to be the great mediator. There’s nothing a country likes more than to stop fighting amongst itself and turn that aggression outwards. It’s what empires are built upon and it’s guaranteed to turn that frown upside down (yes, I am being facetious so put that pen away).

On the domestic front all I will say is in Nuno I trust.

When the best album of the year turns out to be the remix of a 50 year-old Beatles album it’s safe to assume that the shortage of creativity and artistry in music shows no sign of improvement. There were a few laudable efforts from Elbow, Lana Del Rey, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Who and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, but nothing that’s going to endure like an Abbey Road.

I used to blame it on the unwillingness of record companies to make any long term investments in artists today, but when you consider how easy it is to record now then it surely has to be something else more basic like substandard material, dwindling attention spans and a lack of imagination.

Films were a slightly different affair with the final Avengers blockbuster Endgame making over $1 billion in its opening weekend and within six months overtaking Avatar to become the most successful movie of all time. Captain Marvel was a treat, as were the Zombieland sequel, The Favourite and Joker, which should seal a best actor Oscar for Joachim Phoenix.

Of course, commercial success, awards and quality don’t necessarily go together. Just look at Bohemian Rhapsody. If there’s a film with worse dialogue than that I certainly don’t want to hear it.

There was some great, unmissable telly. Line of Duty, Killing Eve, Afterlife (Gervais’ masterpiece), Peaky Blinders and second series of Fleabag and The End Of The F*****g World showed we can produce some of the best drama and comedy on the planet. But there were also gems from elsewhere such as Tim Minchin’s superior Aussie romp Upright and the gloriously dark Watchmen.

Celebrity culture and reality TV showed itself to be as vacuous as ever with mediocrity and abject thickness celebrated through Love Island.

Meanwhile a quite possibly made up row between This Morning hosts Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby gets more media coverage than Botswana resuming elephant hunting after five years and Japan starting whaling operations again.

It’s a pity the likes of Emma Thompson didn’t jump on that cause instead of encouraging a bunch of eco rebels whose idea of protest is glueing themselves to electric trains and bringing London to a standstill..

If that’s not insane enough, the word that suddenly became politically incorrect this year was GENDER. Well fluid humanoids out there, I’m sticking to plain MR thanks.

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Edward Case

Columnist