As we were tidying up the L&U offices at the end of 2016, we found this random collection of highlights and lowlights from a year that will live in infamy (or possibly famy).
The English Premier League has largely spurned unpredictability, almost by design, so for Leicester City to win it having begun the season as 5,000-1 outsiders is an event probably still too large to comprehend, even when most of the bizarre events of 2016 have lost their ability to shock. To put it into perspective, the Green Party are only 300-1 to get an overall majority at the 2020 general election, even though they have seldom put up enough candidates to do so. The fact that Leicester were managed by Claudio Ranieri, the first man sacked at Chelsea by Roman Abramovich, was all the more reason to cheer.
Bob ‘n’ Nige
The referendum result was unforeseen by pollsters, bookies and (most) commentators, but the conduct of the campaign was depressingly predictable. Apart, perhaps, for the Battle of the Thames, when Nigel Farage brought a small flotilla of fishing boats to London to protest against the Common Fisheries Policy, and was met by a Remain boat skippered by Sir Bob Geldof, which played Chicago’s ‘If You Leave Me Now’ at high volume. The millionaire ex-rock star, said the Leave campaign, was typical of the metropolitan elite, ‘laughing at poor people’.
It’s that Mann again
Ken Livingstone, as we all know, has long had a bit of a thing about Adolf Hitler, but in April some felt that even he went a bit far when linking the Third Reich to Zionism. It came at a time when charges of anti-Semitism in Labour were already being heard, and did little for the party’s image. Nor did the contribution of Labour MP John Mann, who took exception to Livingstone’s comments.
The Buddha of Brick Lane
Few who were alive in the early 1980s will ever forget the excitement when Benjamin Creme announced the Second Coming. Well, some may have forgotten, but we haven’t. Maitreya the Christ, according to Creme, was in his thirties at the time, living in Brick Lane in East London, and would reveal himself on every TV channel in the world simultaneously. Sadly, he never did so, and Creme died in October with the Second Coming still awaited.
The only manager of the England football team to have a 100 per cent record (played one, won one), Sam Allardyce was appointed in July and left the job in September. He was in office for 67 days, nearly four times as long as…
She lasted longer than Lady Jane Grey, but not much longer, and even for a party who have had ten changes of leadership in less than a decade, Diane James spending just 18 days at the helm of UKIP was pretty special. In a year in which the party effectively achieved its central ambition, and its most prominent member achieved international renown, to lose an elected leader after a fortnight (with a bizarre Latin tag on an official document) shows they are not ready to settle into bland seriousness quite yet. Maybe Paul Nuttall will change all that. Or maybe not.
The student union at King’s College London announced that for future appearances on University Challenge at least half their team would be ‘self-defining women, trans or non-binary students’. So, to be clear, there are two classes of people: male and others. And in this binary system, non-binary people are categorized in the second group.
Name that tune
In July David Cameron came out into Downing Street to announce the Theresa May was going to be the next prime minister, and that he personally would now be slinging his hook. After he read his statement, he ambled back into Number Ten and media microphones picked him up humming a few notes to himself. It wasn’t a recognizable melody but, since it wasn’t sufficiently long to be copyright, some people developed arrangements and adaptations of his improvised hum. The best was this somewhat melancholy setting by Thomas Hewitt Jones…
Fantasy county cricket
What is left after the wasteland of 2016? Perhaps the ultimate symbol of the year is an entity which hasn’t strictly existed for half a century (Middlesex) winning a competition increasingly archaic even within the world of cricket (the County Championship) in front of a decent, if not packed, crowd on an anonymous Friday afternoon, with a hat-trick by a man with a name from central casting, Tobias Skelton Roland-Jones.
David Bowie died this year.