2012: Top Five Highs, Top Five Lows
1. Three words: Best. Olympics. Ever. For Mo Farah and The Bolt giving us the silliest, most imitated gestures of the games, for The Queen parachuting in (she really did that, you know) and everything else in between. We had our doubts after seeing Wolf Olins’ crappy logo and rubbish mascots, but it did the impossible. It actually got me watching sport.
2. The Paralympics. For the Blade Runner and everyone who changed the way we look at others in such a profound, definitive way. At the end of the final night, the Telecom Tower was lit with fire and its top read: ‘London, take a bow.’ Total lump-in-the-trousers moment.
3. For America doing the right thing by giving Obama a second term and restoring our faith in the power of common sense. And for the wonderful meltdown at Fox News as the presenters refused to believe it was happening.
4. Shock! It wasn’t the absolute worst year in living memory for Hollywood – okay, the tentpole releases sucked as usual, but hurrah for ‘Seven Psychopaths’, ‘Paranorman’, ‘Frankenweenie’, ‘Looper’, ‘The Impossible’, ‘Skyfall’, ‘Cloud Atlas’ and ‘Prometheus’ to name just a few.
5. The year e-reading really took off in the UK. For encouraging literacy with DRM-free books, actually increasing the sales of novels, for new bookshops and pop-up bookstores, for the Kindle Paperwhite, which has quadrupled the amount I read overnight. And for helping seniors with sight issues by incorporating resizeable type.
1. The failure of world politics: Climate change? Screw it. Repressive regimes? Keep ‘em. Cairo? Let’s have a megalomaniac dictator. Russia? Keep out, world – we love our corruption. Here we see another reasoned debate at the opening of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev.
2. The Diamond Jubilee Thousand Boat River Pageant, which took place on the most miserable day of the year and actually hospitalised Phil the Greek, after he had to stand in blinding rain for hours. Luckily the epic concert later made up for the washed-out event.
3. The slashing of arts funding throughout the UK. The North of the country lost out and even arts groups turning a profit were undermined as borders were surreptitiously changed, local arts projects fought to survive and libraries continued to close down instead of being reinvented, like Deptford’s excellent Idea Store.
4. The Cloud- technical innovation or way of getting blood from a stone? Amazon’s cloud service is a mess that defaults my library to a French service each time I open it, and how sinister all are the hints about the service being free ‘for now’? Soon, with the arrival of Ultra Violet and other services, we’ll be paying quarterly to own what we already bought because it’s stored elsewhere. Here’s a better idea; I’ll store it on my desk and you can shove your payments. I’ll pay for online reading but not an invisible cupboard.
5. London’s rubbish skyscrapers – the Tower of Mordor in South London, with giant ‘eco’ turbines that are never turned on because they shake the penthouse apartments, the gruesome walkie-talkie and the gigantic, already-loathed-while-still-empty Shard – thank God the economic downturn has chucked some of the other architectural penis extensions on the scrapheap.