2012: Top Five Highs, Top Five Lows

Observatory

THE HIGHS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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THE LOWS

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.

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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.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

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.

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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.

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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.

The Shard

7 comments on “2012: Top Five Highs, Top Five Lows”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    Your Olympics were particularly excellent. I also watched far more than I normally do and the opening and closing were great. The Fox News business here was beyond amazing, but then the post-election Republicans continue to be amazing. What’s happened to our Grand Old Party? Many Repubs and all Dems are asking. Could it be – for some – it’s a skin-tone issue? From the party of Lincoln? Send them to the film to say!(Psst. I have a couple of Repubs in my family, always have had, and even they are feeling like: what the hell?) I thought the DJTBRP (too much to type, see #2, showed British resolve over dissolve.) And I have to agree – now that you have – that London’s skyscrapers are odd; not surprised they’d shake. That high up with torque you’d be shaken, and sturred. Bond to be so. Finally, that Ukrainian parlimentarian receiving emergency hernia treatment from an MD, who luckily was in the house, is still amazing. It looks like the invalid’s reverse cleavage has been airbrushed. While we traditionally have plumbers’ crack here, our form of government precludes such parlimentarian division. I hope, but the way things are going who knows in 2012.
    Good list, Admin.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    I was surprised to see that I didn’t watch any of the Olympics at all. I watched the opening and the closing and some women’s soccer (Christie Sinclair is our athlete of the year so take that, FIFA!)but that was all. I said originally that I wouldn’t because I just got sick of all the extra aids they were using and I guess there was nothing to pull me into the events. Part of it was the timing, of course.

  3. BangBang!! says:

    I was absolutely glued to the Olympics. The amount of sport I watched was just ridiculous! I loved the one legged cyclists in the Paralympics – they fascinated my 10 year old godson, Jack. I’ve not had a great year but like The Shard, onwards and upwards, it must get better!!

  4. Steve says:

    I watched the opening and found it quite entertaining…but that’s about it. Not much of a sport fan.
    The thing that frightened me about our most recent Presidential election is that so many people actually voted for Romney. But thankfully not enough to get him into the White House.
    Being driven through London a couple of weeks ago was a sad experience, or at least a mixed one, due to precisely the architectural horrors that Admin mentions. It’s not criminal…but it should be.

  5. Vickie says:

    DELIGHTED to see Frankenweenie included in the movie category of your top five…!

  6. glasgow1975 says:

    The economic downturn doesn’t seem to be discouraging awful architecture up here, a lovely listed Art Deco cinema is getting a glass cube of office space plonked on top of it, although it’s been derelict so long (or is it just long enough?) that at least the façade will be saved now. Elsewhere a hideous 60s RBS is being refurbed into a huge shopping/office complex. . .cos with all the ‘to let’ signs in the city centre what we really need are two new office blocks and more ‘retail units’

  7. Rich says:

    Another low was the Paralympics having close ties with the company who are in charge of the re-assessments of those claiming disability benefits. Quite a shift from showing the world what disabled athletes are capable of, to putting other disabled people through a assessment system which humiliates, frightens a lot of disabled people.

    Apologies for a downbeat post but I am currently going through this process myself, and the changes are nothing to do with helping people back to work but everything to do with taking as much money away from people who are mostly struggling to try to live their day to day lives, not living the life of Riley on other people’s taxes.

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