Star columnists run through what’s impressed them this year
REVIEW of the year? Well, it gets a worse one from me than I’d give to a Coldplay box set with guest appearances from Phil Collins, Boris Johnson and the Crystal Palace first team — which is saying something.
I am by nature a cheerful, optimistic person but this year my resilience has been tested like never before. Good riddance, 2016. Go and boil your bottom.
There was the steady rise of the xenophobic far-right in Europe — why does the liberal media keep talking up Marine Le Pen? — and the “election” as US President of a misogynistic, unstable bully who surged into office with two-and-a-half million fewer votes than his opponent, a Wall Street warmonger.
He has just appointed the CEO of a polluting giant as his secretary of state.
Hillary Clinton isn’t much better but at least she’d have given the planet a sliver of a chance.
Americans should look to their history and California, with its huge Democrat majority, should invite other progressive states to secede from the Union unless the electoral college delegates vote according to the wishes of the majority and throw out Trump.
Some chance, I know — but this Earth deserves better.
The Brexit vote and the Lexit argument — which I started off agreeing with but soon ditched in the face of the nauseating racism and Little Englanderism of the Leave campaign — was best summed up by my poet friend Janine Booth when she said that we were heading off a European motorway and all the exits were on the right.
I understand the arguments but Brexit under a Tory government and with a sycophantic press will make the plight of the poorest in society even worse.
And there were brutal wars all over the place. I didn’t agree with the Star’s headline about Aleppo, although I do agree with much of the accompanying analysis.
Whatever the nature of the opposition, what is happening there is not “liberation” by any humanitarian standards.
And, to cap it all, Brighton missed out on promotion to the Premier League on goal difference.
But, as I say, I am optimistic. I spent much of the year charging round the country with like-minded poets, musicians and comedians on the Keep Corbyn tour which morphed back into JC4PM after Jeremy was re-elected with a larger mandate by the biggest party membership in Europe.
If we had anything like a balanced media in this country we would be winning the anti-austerity argument hands down right now.
As John McDonnell said at the Cambridge Trades Council gig I took part in recently, stand strong, stand firm and tell the truth about what is happening. That is our task.
For me, personally, 2016 was a year where my autobiography received wonderful reviews all over the place, I did more gigs than ever before and have written swathes of new poems which will be in my next collection published in the new year.
I met hundreds of lovely people committed to the fight for a better world, summed up by the Brighton Poem-A-Thon last weekend where 60 poets reading in tandem for 10 hours raised nearly £30,000 for the Refugee Council.
Earlier in the year, there were great people too at the wonderful efforts of the We Shall Overcome activists headed by the mercurial Joe Solo.
Like so many others all over the country, my wife and her friends are currently organising a Christmas food bank in our local area. There are loads of great folk out there. I never get demoralised and neither should you.
I’m writing this in Liverpool, on a five-day tour of the north west and west Midlands, comprising gigs in Liverpool, Stourbridge and Worcester — and Brighton away games in Blackburn and Birmingham.
I wish you all a very beery Clashmas and a hoppy New Year.
Let’s make 2017 an improvement on its predecessor.