Merry flipping Christmas

Headshot of author wearing a Santa hat

This time last year I was in a mild state of despondency. Covid was rife, our government was in a bit of a mess, social media was often a cesspit of hatred and misinformation, my book sales weren’t great, and advertising was growing increasingly expensive and ineffective.

I wish I could say all or some of those things have improved. But, nah.

We’re learning to live with it, but covid is still very much with us. We’ve had not one but two changes of prime minister, and I’m not convinced the current incumbent is much of an upgrade on his predecessors. Social media is as rancid as it ever was. My sales still aren’t much to write home about, and I remain extremely wary of the cost and effectiveness of advertising.

But so much more shittiness (you’ll have to excuse my French—it’s difficult to talk about the current state of this world without resorting to the occasional swear word) has happened in this past year.

The new year had barely begun when, without warning, I lost one of my oldest friends. His funeral in London on a mild day in late January was, as you might imagine, a desperately sad affair.

Also in early January, we watched our televisions disbelievingly as what looked like an attempted coup unfolded across the pond when rioters stormed the US Capitol, apparently with the blessing of or, at least, lack of condemnation from the outgoing president.

The following month and Russia invaded Ukraine, bringing World War III significantly nearer to becoming a reality. Massive hikes to energy prices followed and a consequent cost-of-living crisis.

Inflation has been rampant and interest rates keep increasing to try to counter it. Some believe Brexit has also played a significant role in the current mess we’re in, not to mention a bizarre mini-budget from the previous PM and her Chancellor that sent the financial markets into a blind panic.

Summer temperatures soared in the UK as new records were set and we all wilted like last week’s lettuce.

Then, in September, Queen Elizabeth II died. She was the only monarch I’d ever known and, though I’m by no means a royalist, it was a time of deep sorrow—it felt as though we’d lost a constant presence in our lives that we’d not even been aware of until it had gone.

It was also a surreal time as people queued for days to view her coffin lying in state in the Palace of Westminster and a television channel was devoted to seeing those paying their respects filing past. I sometimes turned over to watch it for a while.

Currently there are strikes everywhere you look, from rail workers to nurses. Last year, the government urged us to clap for the NHS staff who worked so selflessly during the pandemic; now the same government would have us believe they’re being selfish for expecting to be paid a living wage. Sigh. This isn’t the place, and I’m not the person, to go off on political rants. Still, sigh.

That was 2022. A year of loss, insurrection, war, economic turmoil, weather extremes, political and royal upheaval.

There’s undoubtedly a recession looming. We can only hope Armageddon isn’t.

Shit happens, as the saying goes, though it’s a little mild to describe what’s happened this past twelve months. Dumbfuckery of the highest order is more accurate. Little wonder my sense of despondency has, if anything, deepened.

When I was seventeen, I appeared in the school play. It contained a line I still quote, usually accompanied by an exaggerated shrug of the shoulders, whenever dumbfuckery is occurring. It’s especially apt now:

Hey ho, such is life.

Have yourself the merriest flipping Christmas (or whatever) and here’s to a kinder 2023. Perhaps if enough of us say it often enough, more kindness will happen. No, I’m not going to hold my breath either.

Image of cute dog in reindeer suit