Check out my exciting click-baity title – I thought I’d try doing a Buzzfeed, just to see if it makes any difference to my stats. Let me know if you found yourself inescapably drawn in by the potent gravitational pull of a *gasp* combined rhetorical question and listicle, with just a dash of hysteria thrown in for good measure. Now hold on to your hats for a quickly-penned, ranty one on the highly original topic of How Everything Has Gone To Sh*t Nowadays.
Once again, I must apologise for being shockingly absent from your online airwaves for the last month or so. This is, as ever, due to a combination of factors, mainly being pretty busy and coming down with various things, including another bout of writer’s block. I think the latter is partly to do with how depressing the internet has got lately. The moment I open my laptop, I’m bombarded with articles confirming that the universe is literally coming to an end. If it’s not climate change, IS or the mass murder and displacement of millions, it’s dead celebrities, embarrassing politicians or the slightly disappointing new iPhone.
Being the human that I am, I have to confess that the various tragedies of our hideous modern world don’t affect me in proportion to their importance in absolute moral terms, so remember as you read this that it’s mainly tongue in cheek – we have to laugh, or else we’ll cry, and so forth. If what you want is seriousness, here’s a recipe for sleepless nights: google ‘climate change’. As someone or other observed recently, life right now is a bit like the half hour at the start of a disaster movie where all the scientists are saying “hey guys, we should be worried?!” while everyone does nothing.
Anyhow, all this bad news is reaching a fever pitch, and the oft-commented-upon crapness of 2016 is starting to take on a broader significance in my mind. The omens and auguries are pointing to something, and I don’t think it’s a good something; in fact, we are almost certainly living in the End Times. Here are the portents I’ve spotted so far…
1. Brexit rages on
I tried to do a moderately positive blog post on Brexit way back in the immediate aftermath, when we all thought there was almost no hope. By contrast, it’s now apparent that there’s no hope whatsoever; Britain is doomed to complete its destiny of becoming a confused, obsolete, racist, inward-looking little nation of bitter, entitled fools. And its dwindling funds, incidentally, will be in the hands of a completely unelected elite (sound familiar, anyone? Feeling better, now that we’ve taken back control and got a Prime Minister literally no one voted for??)
As you can see, I haven’t exactly got over it. Each further headline rips out another little chunk of my heart and crushes it into pulp. I’m tired of watching the befuddlement of the rest of the world, as the Great British Nation stomps around in boots it thinks it’s outgrown, kicking well-meaning neighbours in the shins, swearing at immigrants and shouting “BUT YOU HAVEN’T UNDERSTOOD, I SAID I WANT A TRADE DEAL NOW!” I simply haven’t got the energy to write about it, and yet right now it feels so incredibly important to engage with politics that I’ve also found myself unable to write about smaller, less depressing matters. Hence the writer’s block.
2. Bakeoff disaster strikes
Bexit, as I’m determined to call it, will probably go down in history as the greatest tragedy of the 21st century.* As people keep pointing out, the most important values of the BBC are bread into this fine figure of a show, and I don’t think it could ever truly flour anywhere else. More importantly, the show kneads Mel and Sue to keep up its light, airy tone, so the reign of Bakeoff will almost certainly be dough-ver once its alliance with the BBC meets a butter end. (I’ll stop with the half-baked puns now.)
I’ve got to say I’m impressed at the presenters’ integrity in not following the show to its final resting place, even if that means the next series will be a hollow facsimile of the true Bakeoff. I’m saddened, however, by the greed of the production company, who even had the cheek to pass off their
evil money-grabbing plot perfectly valid financial choices as ‘what’s best for the show’. And I’m staggered by the foolishness of the person at Channel 4 who agreed to pay £75 million for Bakeoff based on its status as the most-loved thing ever in the history of the world, without adding a clause about keeping the stars who are half the appeal. Methinks someone might be facepalming right now.
I’m scared for the future of the BBC if they can’t afford to keep one of their most iconic masterpieces. Based on the way things are going this year, I have a horrible feeling that this
hideous mutilation of all that is good and true dramatic loss of Bakeoff may eventually result in the scrapping of the whole Beeb. I hope not – surely we should, by now, have learnt that some big, publicly funded, deeply flawed institutions are wonderful and irreplaceable in subtle and far-reaching ways.
*I’m joking about Bexit being the biggest tragedy of the 21st century, of course. The real biggest tragedy was the death of Fred Weasley.**
**IT’S JUST ANOTHER JOKE – please, internet, don’t witch-hunt me. I promise I’m fully aware of the sad existence of numerous humanitarian and other disasters, far worthier of our collective despair than my trivial gripes.
3. The Trumpocalypse is on its way
Speaking of humanitarian disasters, and indeed hairdressing disasters, a certain Mr Donald Trump is still hanging around like a pile of cat vomit that everyone has seen but no one wants to pick up and flush down the toilet. By some miracle of inappropriateness, this bigoted, canary-headed example of How Not To Be A Human is still a serious candidate for the US presidency.
People have their problems with Hillary Clinton, and I’m sure there’s some truth in their worries, but for goodness’ sake – have you heard Trump speak for more than 30 seconds? If you have, and you didn’t hear something racist, misogynistic, islamophobic or otherwise heinous, you could probably submit it for some kind of world record, because that man is incapable of opening his mouth without causing (rightful) offence to someone or other.
Offence in itself isn’t the end of the world, but it’s pretty clear what this guy’s views are, and they’re regressive and dangerous. Either Trump is as incompetent as he looks – in which case the catastrophe of his election might be mitigated by a failure to actually change many policies. Or he’s capable of getting things done, in which case doom is upon us all – farewell humanity, it was nice knowing you before we were all eradicated in the nuclear holocaust when America went to war with everyone who “looked at them a bit funny”.
And if you’re thinking the former is more likely, remember this. Whatever you think of Trump’s intelligence or lack thereof, the whole “successfully becoming a presidential candidate” thing makes it hard to deny that he has some modicum of ability to get his own way, even if that’s largely founded on having very deep pockets indeed. We should all be very, very worried.
4. Everyone is talking about The Archers…
…and it feels like this newly-spawned interest in the least fascinating soap in the world will never end. I’ve lost track of when the much-discussed trial began, but the fact that you probably know what I’m talking about highlights my problem. It’s great that domestic abuse is getting more media attention, but surely, SURELY, there has to be a better way forward than this.
Somehow, despite the appallingly wooden acting and the fact that it takes place in real time even though nothing ever happens, The Archers has triumphed at last, and we are doomed to an eternal hell in which the only socially acceptable conversation-starter is “ooh, did you hear what happened to [FICTIONAL] Lilian?!” I know, I know – it’s hardly the downfall of civilisation, but remember we’re talking about omens here. And in my book, everyone knowing what’s happening on The Archers is most definitely not a sign of good times ahead.
You may think this is hyperbolic, especially coming from someone who just described a change in ownership of a TV show as the greatest tragedy of the 21st century, but at least I’m consistent in my hypocrisy – hipster that I am, I’ve hated The Archers since before you’d ever heard of it, and I’ve got the cartoons to prove it.
Well, if you made it to the end of this without falling into an inescapable pit of despair, I congratulate you. My actual life has been great lately so don’t let my outrage at the state of the world fool you – I’m pretty cheerful at the moment, and I’ve barrelled through that writer’s block. I’m off to France for a few weeks now, so expect culture-clash fun in the next post, just like in the good old year abroad days!