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Memories of a Peculiar Year

December 30, 2015

It’s that time of year again. Here are a few things that stood out for me in 2015:

The Emperor Claudius Award for unlikely political elevation: Jeremy Corbyn. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Others get elevated to the leadership of a major national party by less than 1% of the electorate.

Ugliest American: Donald Trump – made even uglier by the fact that millions of Americans are gullible enough to believe that he would be able to deliver on his loopy promises.

Donald Trump

Most fashionable endangered species: The hedgehog, especially the poor visitors in my garden that had to contend with our large and curious dog this summer.

Most startling harbinger of the End of Days: Daffodils flowering in London at Christmas. If things continue like this, the cricket season in England will start in February.

Most compelling re-read: Diary of a Man in Despair. Was there ever a more withering expression of contempt for a political leadership than Freidrich Reck-Malleczewen’s literary demolition of the Nazis?

Fritz Reck


Most unexpected moment in a TV series: Saga Noren weeping in The Bridge 3. The dam finally broke.

Most predictable moment in a TV Series: Carrie Mathison having a psychotic breakdown in Homeland.

Carrie Mathison

Most valiant theatrical failure: Farinelli and the King. Mark Rylance was tremendous, but no counter-tenor will ever be more than a pale imitation of an operatic castrato.



Most moving concert: Berlioz’s Grand Messe des Morts at the London Barbican – has brass ever been used more effectively?

Cultural desecration: Palmyra and all the other sites destroyed by ISIS. How long before we start erasing inconvenient history in the West?


Statue of the year: That of the late Mayor Rizzo of Philadelphia (which I visited last month), pointing nobly into the distance. He who once said “I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot”. Roll on the Democrat National Convention, due to be held in the city next year.

Mayor Rizzo

Mayor Frank Rizzo

Most overworked social theme: Transgender anything.

Cliché of the year: Safe place – particularly as applied to the expression of opinion on university campuses. In my day we went to university to escape safe places. Clearly not any more.

Comical Ali moment: Caliph Baghdadi sending an upbeat message about the fortunes of ISIS on the day Ramadi was falling.

ISIS Baghdadi

Most unlikely sporting hero: Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General, for her part in taking down FIFA.


Most intriguing “new” energy source: Molten salt reactor technology, developed in the 1960s, tweaked in the 2010s, potentially able to produce usable energy from nuclear waste.

Apologies if some of these references are a little obscure, but they’re just a reflection of the odd stuff that’s been swirling round my conscious in this funny old year.

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