Most musicians, aside from Bowie, often find themselves cursed with a best before date. This is usually realised at some point between the ill-fated anniversary gig, and the first platinum re-release. This notion is no less true for mankind, whose 2013 played out as if a meddling producer had taken the previous fifty years of human history, and butchered the events into a substandard, remastered ‘Greatest Hits’ album.
This year saw Jimmy Savile, Mandela, a British Wimbledon winner, and Thatcher return to newspaper front pages. The Doge Coin became a blossoming online currency, and the ‘selfie’ became part of mainstream culture – throwing the entire hipster movement into disarray. Meanwhile, whistleblower Edward Snowden probably had the most productive summer, instigating the world’s first live-action role-playing edition of Where’s Wally? – leaving many journalists baffled by such stunts as not boarding a plane.
Of course, 2013 was perhaps most memorable for a series of leaks pertaining to a super secret global surveillance network capable of hoovering up metadata faster than Eric Pickles guzzles the extra Jammie Dodgers in the biscuit tin. We also learned that GCHQ, the diet Lilt of intelligence agencies, had been exchanging information with the NSA like two school kids swapping Top Trumps in between super secret five-a-side football matches.
As far as we were concerned, however, the leaks didn’t have much of an impact – other than to make George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four read more like a light-hearted holiday must-have. They were vastly overshadowed by prolonged outrage stirred by the perpetually bipolar British WeatherTM, the self-proclaimed genius Kanye West, and the family-friendly twerk-a-minute former Disney schizophrenic Miley Cyrus, who inspired the collective western world to waddle to their nearest B&Q in search for 70%-off Twitter-compatible pitchforks.
Over in the US, the government decided to go on holiday for two weeks in October after they failed to reach an agreement on the budget. This misdemeanour, in some countries, is legally resolved by dissolving parliament. But they finally reached a compromise, and Obamacare came into force following up to forty Republican attempts to block the 2010 law. Things were slightly wackier in drug-fuelled Toronto, as Mayor Rob Ford bull-rushed his way towards infamy, after admitting he had smoked crack, as well as ‘accidentally’ physically assaulting every third person he bumped into.
Meanwhile, British politics was largely dominated by two unsavoury figures: man’s man far-right pinup-boy Nigel Farage, and rookie revolutionary Russell Brand. The latter invigorated a debate surrounding the current political climate (by revealing that it consisted of 23% horse meat and 98% bullshit), while the former led the outspoken ‘telling it how it isn’t’ political circus-show UKIP to its greatest showing since its conception. Farage somehow two-fingered his way toward a popularity spike, which rattled the Crosbified Conservatives to such a degree that the UK Government has now seemingly started to nick policy ideas from the Daily Mail Comment pages on a biweekly basis.
Finally the gloomy Autumn passed, and the holiday season came around much to the delight of all, aside from those planning a quiet trip to shops. But on Christmas itself, while Snowden decried “mission accomplished” from the back of a dingy sweat-soaked Russian motel, drunken families everywhere were instead thrust into heated debate about the confusion caused by the almighty headscratcher that was the Doctor Who Christmas special.
Over ten million people tuned in to watch the three minutes it took for Matt Smith to sneeze himself Scottish, which preceded fifty-seven minutes of cringeworthy sexual innuendos, lacklustre special effects, botched one-liners, flying daleks, cybertwats, and a siege which lasted longer than it takes the Prime Minister to answer a question. Fans were left amazed by how writer Steven Moffat managed to regenerate all the characters we once cared about into animatronic cardboard cutouts of their former selves.
Of course some other things happened too. The public were treated to two popes for the price of one, while the international community was treated to a series of confusingly implausible nuclear threats from Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, a nation permanently time-locked in the 1950s. Turmoil persisted in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt and Syria, while the Daily Express became the first media outlet to have successfully live-Tweeted a birth directly from a mother’s womb.
All in all there was no real rhythm, nor structure, to 2013. And the last twelve months more or less staggered by in a messy, cocaine-fuelled flash, like Paul Flowers on a night out. I suppose we can only hope 2014 will be less East Germany, and much nicer; a bit more Nigella Lawson than Gordon Ramsey. Would that be too much to ask?