JUST AN OBSERVATION
With 2014 drawing to a close and the festive season in full swing- boycotting the Christmas festivities this year I am feeling slightly liberated and none of my usual humbuggery is prevalent- it is also that time of year when it is good to take stock of what the past fifty two weeks has meant to both me personally and the world around me.
Definitely the big news this year had to be the Referendum for Independence in September and how, in its run up and possibly even more so after its result, it politically galvanised the Scottish nation especially those who had been slumbering along in a somnambulant state for far too long. Guilty of being one of the latter my political awakening has been revelatory and my previous distrust of the major Westminster parties ,which has been there for most of my adult life, has now grown but have been consoled in this in that there are obviously so many out there who feel the same as I do.
Obviously there were not quite enough to change things completely, as the disappointing result of September’s Referendum made clear, but enough to create hope for the future and a chance to take things forward if people feel as passionate and determined for change as they are claiming.
A new Scottish minister in the shape of Nicola Sturgeon –playing to packed out houses on a tour and receiving a reception which resembles that of a rock band more than a politician- was a beacon of hope in the dark weeks and months after the September result and the realisation that things were going to get a lot worse before they got any better. With a General Election on track for May 2015 and the SNP’S new position as the third biggest party –members wise- in the country it seems inevitable that the conciliatory ‘new powers’ handed over to Scotland as a compromise will no way be enough to keep people happy or quite as quiet as they might have in the past and this is a good thing. It is also worth noting that Alex Salmond has ended the year on a high note by entering the fray of politics in time for the General Election by standing for his constituency especially as there are few whose rise from zero to hero status has been quite as pronounced as his was.
Elsewhere the world seems to have gone quite mad and even in the last week with the Taliban murdering 142 people-including 132 children- in an attack on an army run school in Peshawar is surely a sign that we are living in a world which has gone quite mad and one that I struggle to comprehend when massacres like this take place.
Also this week Sony have been forced to withdraw a film mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, The Interview, from national theatres in America due to threats on cinemagoers. The jury is still out on this one and conspiracy rumours are rife. Who knows it could even be some publicity stunt cooked up to stir interest in a film which if trailer clips reveal to be a puerile and facile unfunny ninety minute joke. If however the threats are serious and have come from North Korea then bowing to pressure sets a precedent which is not only dangerous but also merely the beginning of such demands. Mind you it gets harder and harder knowing what to believe so perhaps believing nothing is the only solution!
Meanwhile Bob Geldof has probably erected his portable soap box and is lecturing us on how we can all contribute from our decidedly small incomes to help alleviate these situations alongside the Ebola crisis whilst he and his chums hold onto their vast fortunes and spend their time looking for tax loops meanwhile still taking flights on private jets.
Out at the cinema this year there have been some outstanding films. The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Under the Skin ,Nightcrawler, Gone Girl, Dallas Buyers Club and The Past have all struck the right chords in their own unique and different ways.
Musically things have been less defined though one band that have stood out for me this year have been Girl Band-none of whom are girls- and I look forward to hearing more of them in 2015 and Taylor Swift emerged as pop’s new princess while Kate Bush was undoubtedly the live experience of the year. It is left to the oldies however to turn in the albums of the year with the most surprising of these being Morrissey whose ‘World Peace is None of Your Business’ has somehow insinuated its way into my psyche and this is no mean achievement with it clocking in at what could be an overly long eighty minutes. Admittedly I didn’t like it at all on initial hearing but after about three listens it struck home and now rates as one of his best works which can quite happily rest alongside his work with The Smiths. However in typical miserablist style and due to a Morrissey tantrum and fit of pique at the album not reaching number one on the charts-amazingly this still matters to the cantankerous fifty something and number two is simply not good enough- and blaming his record company for this shortfall he removed it from both iTunes and Spotify so availability is even more limited and now has no chance of reaching number one despite favourable reviews all round.However perhaps he should maybe bask in this comeback glory and remain silent for a while as last year’s comeback king, David Bowie, somehow managed to undo all the good work he did in 2013 first by interfering in matters which were none of his business,the Independence Referendum, then by releasing a seven minute plus free form jazz ‘experience’ single ‘Sue’ which had the unfortunate outcome of compressing his entire embarrassing eighties wilderness years output into one song.
Television has provided the endless round of interchangeable dross such as Made In Essex and The Only way is Not Chelsea as well as Britain’s got Delusions and X-Crement Factor cluttering up screen time. However BBC2 shows such as The Fall, Peaky Blinders and Line of Duty were all brilliant, captivating and intelligent superior quality dramas. My only complaint about these three shows is that they are still being shown in the outdated format of one hour a week over a six week period, In my opinion this is an outmoded form of viewing and the rise of Netflix and box sets have indicated that an audience’s attention can be held for longer than an hour if the drama is compelling, well acted and well written to a high standard, which these three programmes were.
So as 2014 moves into 2015 here is hoping that the many changes hinted at this year come to fruition and that the stagnation which has blighted change and growth in recent history can be consigned to the past and the time to move forward is now. Oh, and for those of you indulging in this Christmas thing, Happy Christmas!
Here is the aforementioned Girl Band with ‘Lawman’ watch out for this lot.