2017 minus 21: It’ll be over soon, or will it?

Posted: 11 December 2016 in 2017 minus

Three weeks to go.

Three weeks.

And then 2016 will be over.

Except it won’t be. Not really. The consequences of decisions taken in 2016, and of events that have occurred in 2016, will linger not only into 2017 but far beyond. The two most obvious, of course, being Brexit and President Donald Trump. The former may or may not happen in the end, though the odds heavily fancy of some kind of Brexit. The latter? Well, I’ll get on to that in a moment.

On a personal level, the start of any new year is always overshadowed by an anniversary that takes place a week and a bit into that new year: the anniversary of the death of my brother in 1998. As I’ve written before, and no dount will again, the advent of 1998 was the last time, the final time, I greeted 1st January with “well, whatever happens this year, it can’t be worse than this last year.” Who knew?

But even leaving aside that intensely personal reason for not treating each new year with unalloyed joy, three weeks into 2017, we get to witness the inauguration of President Trump. And though there’s a part of me that wants to ignore the inauraration, to stay away from all news that day, take the day off twitter and social media… I’m not sure I’m strong enough, or together enough, to be able to do that.

Just as it’s irresistible to look at the results of a horrible car crash while you’re driving past it, there’ll be an overwhelming desire to watch, to witness history in the making. Because, like it or not, it will be history in the making. It’ll be one of those events that will make a single momen in the history of the planet pundits and punlic alike will look back at and.. and what? Shudder at? Cry at? Wince at? Who knows.

But history in the making? Certainly.

But then there’s always history in the making. 

I was born in mid-August 1964, a few months before America decisively rejected Barry Goldwater’s offer to the American people, and almost exactly nine months after JFK was assassinated and after the first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast. 

In the now over 52 years I’ve been in this planet, I missed some history being made, sure; I wasn’t even aware of anything outside what directly affected me and mine for the first, what half a dozen or so years of my life, and for the next half a dozen, didn’t care about them. So, President Nixon resigned in 1974, week or so before my 10th birthday. At ten years of age, I’m not entirely sure I even knew it at the time. It’s possible my father might have mentioned it, and I heard it, but no, I have n memory of it. (I do remember the Beatles breaking up, six years earlier, but only because my big brother was terribly upset.) I honestly don’t know how much I’d have been aware of though had social media and ubiquitous connection to the internet had been around in the 1970s… 

But even if you say from the age of 13 – in mid-1977 – in my life, I’ve witnessed history being made dozens of times. Just off the top of my head, without thinking about it, in my teenage years, Elvis died, as did John Lennon. We had the first woman British Prime Minister, and shortly thereafter the miner’s strike. Soon thereafter, Labour showed how you catastrophically lose a general election, a lesson that took thirty years to be forgotten, and one they’re relearning now. In my mid-20s, the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR started to collapse, and Nelson Mandela walked to freedom… and and and…

History is made all the time, but rarely does it happen in such a way that instantly you know what the consequences will be.

You can guess whether they’ll be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but not much more than that. 

Trump’s inauguration will be one of the exceptions. OK, we won’t know all the consequences for some time to come, but that they’ll be ‘bad’ is beyond question; it’s just a mater of how bad. 

And 2017 will bring more deaths; that’s inevitable. There’ll be much loved celebrities who die at the end of a ‘natural’ life span*, and some that go too soon, some that go far, far too soon. 

(*Though there’ll be some that die and my reaction will be that I’m surprised they were still alive, either because of advancing age or, let’s say if Keith Richards dies, that they managed to last as long as they did.)

My mother used to say that things came in threes… and if once three things had happened, another one happened, it wasn’t that things happened in fours, but that it was the start of a whole new series of three. 2016 ends in theory in three weeks. There’ll be plenty of people saying in the opening weeks of 2017 “I was hoping 2016 ended…” 

It did. 

This will just be a long, lingering smell of shit, like someone dumped a huge turd across the world. 

Which, I suppose, in every important way… they did.

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