Saturday, December 31, 2016

Well, that was some year

I appear to have survived the year 2016, which is more than a lot of other people can say. A huge number of celebrities chose this year to shuffle off their mortal coils: David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher to name but three. If you’re British, you’ll also be mourning the loss of the likes of Ronnie Corbett, Paul Daniels and Victoria Wood. For Germans, the list includes Tamme Hanken, Guido Westerwelle and Götz George.

It seems as if there isn’t a single person who hasn’t felt the loss of some childhood-defining figure or other: there was that anguished moment when three generations of Germans simultaneously cried, “No, not Peter Lustig!” My wife very kindly suggested that I should be grateful I’m not famous enough, which I suppose is one way of looking at my continued lack of stardom.

I like to think of myself as a bit rational most of the time, so I can console myself with probability theory, which suggests that actually all is right with the universe and that it would in fact be very strange if we never experienced a year as unusual as this one from time to time. All the same, when you hear the rhetoric of the US President Elect on things like nuclear weapons and the manaical world-domination plans of heavily-armed Islamic terrorists, you can’t help but imagine a mass exodus before the impending apocalypse.

It remains to be seen what the next year will bring. As my local paper helpfully explained this morning, as if this was some deep new insight currently sending shockwaves through the philosophical community, 2017 is the logical follow-on to 2016. Given that, I suppose we’ll just have to expect the unexpected. By this time next year, the new leader of the free world could be me.

Now, there’s a scary thought.

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