Tag Archives: 2012

Yacht a Girl Wants

Britain’s education secretary Michael Gove found himself at the centre of some controversy this week after suggesting that the Queen should be presented with a new royal yacht in honour of her diamond jubilee, a gift that would cost the taxpayers of Britain around £60 million. Quite apart from how ludicrous it is to consider such an ostentatious present in these frugal times, he also clearly didn’t think through how much effort it would require to wrap the thing.

Gove is just the latest example of a Conservative politician who is hopelessly out of touch with reality. The landed gentry image that the current crop of Tory ministers evoke isn’t that far off the mark; many of them are, in fact, extremely wealthy landowners. One imagines the life of a typical Tory like Gove revolves mainly around foxhunting, drinking brandy after foxhunting, and picking out new tweed jackets to wear while shooting the local urchins for sport. And also while foxhunting. Their home life is essentially like an episode of Downton Abbey, only instead of the frisson of unrequited love and stately elegance in the air, there’s just a stench of upper class disdain and an aloof ambivalence to the plight of anyone who doesn’t have a hereditary title. As well as the stench coming from the unkempt moat that was paid for by the taxpayer. Those things can be so hard to maintain.

However, this image is something that ‘Call me Dave’ is doing his very best to try to eradicate, by attempting to appear just as frightfully common as the rest of us. He’s stopped arriving at the House of Commons in that horse-drawn carriage of his, for a start. He now travels everywhere in a humble chauffeured Rolls Royce, which even has a sticker on the window voicing support for his local polo team, to show everyone how ordinary he is. He has also taken to wearing jeans around the house in the evenings, despite the jolly good ribbing he gets from his old Etonian chums at dinner parties, especially on Tuxedo Thursdays. He even went out to the supermarket to do his own shopping last week, but unfortunately had to return empty-handed after he saw someone in a hoody and got scared.

Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about Cameron and his ilk is that they seem to be unashamedly royalist. They just can’t get enough of archaic constitutional monarchies, they’re batshit crazy about them. The fact that the whole idea of a monarchy didn’t die out long ago along with smallpox, slavery and decent Robert De Niro films is a source of puzzlement, but not as perplexing as the fascination with the whole affair shown by the British, in particular. Any sensible person would treat such an uninteresting family of wealthy layabouts with mild indifference, but the fervour displayed by some royal enthusiasts lies somewhere between the shameless fawning of a screeching pre-pubescent girl at a Westlife book signing, and the obsequious, unquestioning adoration that one imagines may have preceded the consumption of all that delicious Kool-Aid at Jonestown.

The public histrionics that accompany the likes of last year’s royal wedding, or the death of Diana, show just how obsessed people are with the royal family. The Queen can’t even fart without some middle-aged woman from Wigan blubbering into a tissue and throwing roses out into the street at her for some reason. Oh look, it’s Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, she’s really rich and she owns all the swans. Who gives a shit?

Speaking of old Lizzie herself, surely there were some more interesting proposals put forward as to what to buy her to celebrate 60 years on the throne. If she were to get a yacht, Harry would have it written off within the week anyway after trying to invade France on it and crashing into the London Eye after a night out on the sauce.

Perhaps the Irish people could get together and present the Queen with a present to mark the occasion. How about offering to take Northern Ireland back from her? It would only be fair after the con that rascal Michael Collins pulled when he convinced the Brits they actually wanted to keep such a barren wasteland as part of their empire. Nobody had the heart to tell them all they’d get in return was an unruly shower of rally-driving, mural-painting sectarians and an astronomical annual social welfare bill. Come to think of it, taking back such a burden might be a bit too generous. Let’s just leave it until the next jubilee and then reassess the situation.

Failing that, maybe something simple like the new iPhone would be a welcome gift, something to bring the monarchy into the digital age and allow the Queen to get into social networking. I can just see the status updates now: Liz checked in at The Royal Variety Show with Prince Philip and CharliePrinceOfWales69xx. ‘One is very bored with these performing peasants. But totally worth it to hear Phil’s comments about the Asian dancing troupe that was just on. Rofl! #LittleYellowBastards.’

Although the yacht idea will no doubt never come to fruition, the fact that a government minister even proposed it in the first place is an indictment  not only of a severe lack of judgement and common sense on his part, but also of a society stuck in the dark ages and still in thrall to its less than useless royal family. When the two most interesting things concerning the royals in the recent past have been jokes about Princess Diana and pictures of Pippa Middleton’s arse, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the importance of the British monarchy. Then the sycophantic royalists like Gove will just have to find another wealthy, tedious and completely redundant family to revere. I wonder if he watches Keeping Up with the Kardashians


Let’s Not Meet Up For The Year 2012

As 2011 comes to a close it seems only fitting to look back on the big news stories of the year and analyse how the world has changed for all of us over the last twelve months. However, that sounds really boring and depressing so instead I’m going to attempt to predict the major events that will shape the year 2012. And if there’s half as much economic misery, brutal conflict, tragic natural disasters, and television exposure for Jedward as there was last year, let’s hope the Mayans were right when they predicted that the world would end if John Cusack ever made a movie as awful as 2012.

In economic matters, the Eurozone crisis deepens even further in early 2012, with the pressure on Angela Merkel finally taking its toll at a meeting in Brussels, during which she tears one of Sarkozy’s arms off and proceeds to beat him and several other less important European leaders to death with it before she can be restrained. The outburst results in massive fluctuations in German markets as Boris Becker is declared the interim leader of the country for some reason. Commentators across the world are astounded at the move, and all agree that the end is nigh for the Euro. John McEnroe also gets a lot of air time on American TV, remarking that Germany “cannot be serious.”

Fearing the imminent collapse of the EU as we know it, President Higgins takes drastic action and decides not only to secede from the union, but also to declare geographical independence from the continent of Europe. The country’s legions of unemployed are soon put to work preparing the island for emigration. In late summer, after all the arrangements have been made, we set sail for Australia, only losing half of Wexford along the way when we hit Portugal in rough seas, which everyone agrees was probably for the best anyway. Unfortunately we have to return to the economic hinterland of Europe after only a month spent down south, due to people complaining that the weather is too mild to be working, and the milk doesn’t taste the same. On the plus side, however, we also manage to cut loose most of Cork somewhere around Angola on the way back.

Meanwhile in the US, Barack Obama is narrowly re-elected, with many citing the Republicans’ choice of an overly stereotypical candidate as the reason for their loss. Others credit Obama’s win to his catchy slogan, ‘Change we can kind of believe in after four years of not much change at all really.’ After dispatching both bin Laden and Gaddafi in 2011, Obama feels under pressure to topple another dictator before the end of the year. In December he sends a covert unit of troops to kidnap Kim Jong-un while the North Korean leader attends an anniversary feast for the passing of his father.

However, a full year in power has seen the young man balloon to epic proportions due to his gluttonous diet, including consuming over 80 percent of the country’s sugar stockpile during one particularly decadent golfing weekend (when incidentally he also beat his late father’s world record by 17 strokes). The tyrant is too heavy for the American soldiers to lift and they are forced to leave without him. Unfortunately all forty of them perish an hour later when their helicopter accidentally fires at itself having mistaken a passing seagull for a North Korean stealth bomber.

Wikileaks later reveals that the kidnap plot was simply a ruse to begin a ‘liberation’ of North Korea, after it emerged that an extremely rare ore that Apple uses to make the limited edition Hello Kitty carrier case for the iPad is found exclusively in the foothills outside Pyongyang.

The Arab world continues to suffer massive political and social unrest as its citizens voice their opposition to totalitarian rule via social media. Trending tags on Twitter for the year include #MarchLikeAnEgyptian, #Don’tBeATahrirSquare, and #Don’tBahrainOnMyParade. Unfortunately the Islamic autocrats strike back by creating a Facebook page called ‘That awkward moment when you get your hands chopped off for engaging in political dissent on Twitter’, which soon silences most of the protesters.

Civil disorder continues in the West also, with the Occupy Movement growing ever larger. Police in New York run into difficulties as the protesters on Wall Street build up an immunity to pepper spray. As the crowds increase and become more vocal each day, eventually the cops take drastic action. They erect massive television screens around the area and begin to air Kim Kardashian’s new reality show, which revolves around her eight-week search for a new personal trainer for her cat, O.J. The tactic works as the protesters dwindle in number, though the large number of deaths by self-immolation recorded mark a tragic end to proceedings.

Meanwhile the stock market traders have endless fun laughing at the occupiers. When they’re not busy burying dead hookers in shallow graves, or telling CNN that we’ve entered our sixth recession of the week, they spend their days throwing staplers and bags of substandard cocaine at the protesters from the windows of their luxurious offices. They even respond to the famous ‘We are the 99%’ slogan with a giant banner of their own that says ‘We are the 11% and we don’t give a shit.’ It takes them three weeks to realise their mistake.

The entertainment world continues to provide reasons to welcome the warm glow of the apocalypse during the year. The top grossing film is The Hangover Part III, which simply consists of the lads sitting around a breakfast table having a fry and some Solpadeine, and arguing over who paid for the taxi the previous night for an hour and a half. Lady GaGa takes an indefinite hiatus from making music as she is committed to an institution after turning up at the Grammys wearing Elizabeth Taylor’s skin. Though criticised by many, the look goes on to influence much of Karl Lagerfeld’s acclaimed ‘Eau de Cleopatra’ fashion line that takes catwalks by storm over the summer.

Overall, 2012 is little more than another crushingly disappointing vignette illustrating the woeful state that the human race finds itself in. This time next year will see us looking back on even more misery and despair that has been heaped upon us by the ambivalent teet of the universe that we have suckled until dry and withered, and unable to provide us with anything but empty hopes and crushed dreams. On the plus side though, the new Batman film turns out to be awesome, so it all balances out really.

The Hour of London

Celebrations were held in London this week to mark the fact that only one year remains until the 2012 Olympic Games are upon us. Next summer will see the city play host to the world’s most eminent sporting event, with the best athletes from around the globe coming together to compete.

The modern Olympics have changed drastically since the first tournament was held in 1896, now basically consisting of massively expensive and ostentatious opening and closing ceremonies, with a few races thrown in here and there for good measure. Next year’s opening ceremony will be overseen by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. Perhaps the ceremony will be based on one of his films: an extravagant, futuristic celebration based on Sunshine? A Trainspotting-inspired journey through the darker recesses of urban British counterculture? Or maybe a return to the zombie-infested London of 28 Days Later, complete with Thriller-esque choreography? Whatever he decides to include, it seems the ceremony is in safe hands. Let’s just hope it doesn’t last for 127 Hours. Or star James Franco.

The Olympics used to be all about the events, and for the purists there is no better example of the famous adventurous Olympic spirit than the 1900 Games held in Paris. The Games were held for over five months, and along with the usual sports like athletics, football and gymnastics, certain events were trialled over the course of the Games that failed to become official Olympic sports. Among the stranger contests held this year were firefighting, hot air ballooning, delivery van racing and poodle clipping. The most bizarre, however, and certainly one that wouldn’t be allowed today, was live pigeon shooting. Nearly 300 pigeons were killed in the event, with the winner reaching a tally of 21. Pretty impressive considering Dastardly and Muttley couldn’t even get one.

Of course the 2012 Olympics will feature some ridiculous events too. Dressage, for instance, essentially involves a group of insanely rich toffs who are all related to each other trotting around on their horses. The medal is then awarded to whichever of them looks the most upper class. There is also the rhythmic gymnastics section, in which artificially shrunken pre-pubescents pretend to be cats and roll around with ribbons and balls and other feline accoutrements. Whoever comes fourth in gruelling events like the marathon each year must be really pissed to see one of these tiny cat-people come away with a gold medal after playing around on the floor for a while.

The Olympics these days is more about personalities than anything else. Firstly there’s athletics superstar Usain Bolt, the chicken nugget-powered fastest man in the world over 90 metres, at which point he slows down and moonwalks the rest of the race just to mock his inferior opponents. Secondly, adopted American son and über-celebrity David Beckham, who has stated he wants to play for the British football team in 2012. Maybe if they win they’ll finally give over about 1966. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to penalties. And thirdly, eh, that Canadian curling guy. Yeah, him.

Aside from these few colourful characters, the inevitable bone-crunching falls in gymnastics, and the excitement of watching the hammer and the javelin in the hope that someone gets nailed in the head, there is very little of interest in the Olympics. A West African will run really fast and win the race. A Bulgarian bloke called Artem with no neck will lift slightly heavier things than anyone else and win a medal. And whatever Belgian cyclist has pumped himself so full of drugs that his heart beats about 700 times per minute but not so full of drugs that his calves explode, will win the cycling events. All very predictable and not very exciting.

What the Olympics needs is a breath of fresh air, something to reinvigorate it and make it compelling viewing once more. While going back to some of the events of the 1900 Games is probably not the way to go, there may be some inspiration to be gleaned from going back even further, to the Ancient Olympic Games.

Traditionally the last event of the Ancient Games was the ‘Hoplite race’, in which competitors had to compete in full body armour, including helmet and shield. This would certainly make the 800 metres a bit more interesting. Or the Olympic boxers could take their example from the Greek competitors who weighted their leather gloves with metal. Hitting a man when he was down was perfectly legal, however if you went too far and killed him, he was automatically declared the winner. Bit of a Pyrrhic victory really. One tradition that isn’t likely to be revived, however, is the nakedness of all competitors in the Ancient Games. Although it would probably make beach volleyball even more popular with male viewers.

Maybe all the Olympics needs is a new image. Its motto, ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’, isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. How about ‘5 Rings to Rule Them All’, or ‘The Olympics – Drug Free Since, eh, the Last Olympics’. Although the way things are going, in a few years the motto will probably be ‘The Olympics – Silver Medals for Anyone Who Isn’t Chinese’.

The 2012 mascots are similarly disappointing. The puzzlingly named Wenlock and Mandeville sound like gay lovers from some rejected BBC period drama set in the stables of a stately home. They don’t even look particularly athletic, seeing that they are supposedly made of steel. The whole cycloptic thing they have going on can’t be much good for their depth perception either. They’d never get out of the blocks in the delivery van race, and as for poodle clipping, forget about it, they don’t even appear to have fingers.

Despite the somewhat faded grandeur of the modern Olympics, I will still no doubt be glued to the television for its duration. It only comes around every four years, and is the pinnacle of achievement for the athletes who have trained so hard and sacrificed so much to be there. Which is what makes it all the more enjoyable when they fail spectacularly. Now I’m off to find some pigeons. I reckon I can beat 21 before the day is out.