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Firetruck 2016


ONE DAY left in this firetrucker and I can’t wait for it to be done and gone; mankind can’t even risk writing that he can’t wait for it to be “dead and gone”, should in case this bad-mind mofo of a year take it firetrucking literally and take one of his own in its dying seconds. God knows 2016 has taken away way too many from all of us who ever saved the day by dancing the night away.

David Bowie, who justified his life, and defined mine, with “A Space Oddity” – what am I, if not that? – and who wrote so many more songs that saved me, from “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” to the “Heroes” they’ll play at my own funeral, was the first to go, on January 10th of this year so dread that it doesn’t sound bad enough in Latin: annus horribilis, my ass; call it a pain in the annus.

And it got painer in the annus as it went on! It’s hard to accept that Prince will never again finger a fretboard; or anything else. 2016 also snatched two-thirds of the best progressive rock band of all time (yes! I said it!), leaving Carl Palmer alone to mourn Keith Emerson, who made rockers listen to piano concertos, and Greg Lake, whose bassline on ELP’s cover of “Fanfare for the Common Man” rivalled Sting’s on “Walking on the Moon”, John Deacon’s on “Another One Bites the Dust”, Herbie Flowers’ on “Walk on the Wild Side” and Stu Cook’s on “Down on the Corner”. Down to George Firetrucking Michael got his own “Wham’dey”; and not even Princess Firetrucking Leia was safe from this dog of a year.

This sackcloth-and-ashes year also saw me get the sack at the Guardian and put on the personal sackcloth. My first cousin, D’Wayne – yes, the Potogees of Guyana were ahead of African-Americans in that spelling – died, psychically shockingly, at age just 51.

For the last half of this year, and for first time in her near 19 years, my daughter has not been living with me and her mother and brother, but almost on her own in London. Thankfully, her blood-uncle has thrown an eye on her transition from small island to big city, taking several huge plates off the weight off the worry about her – and yet this villain of a year saw fit to give her, in the six days she spent at home for Xmas, a head injury and a three-inch scar across the centre of her forehead, 16 stitches she’ll look at in the mirror – and remember 20-firetrucking-16 by – for the rest of her life.

And, yes, of course 2016 is clearly by definition bearable, for I am still standing; but I’ve been on one knee often, bro. My son, in this his “golden year” – he turned 16 in 2016 – manfully gave up his football team’s American tour in July to go to an Arsenal training camp in August (since we couldn’t afford to send him to both), thereby missing a tour in which he’d have played an important part in his team getting to the final – which it did – and, as a formidable last man, might have told the difference in them not losing the championship – which they did.

And, the night before the camp he gave up the tour for was to start, exhausted after 30 hours of travelling from Barbados to England, and sent to play football rather than have the shower and bed rest he wanted, the poor firetruck broke his wrist. Instead of a fortnight of playing for the Arsenal coaches, it turned into a night of agony and then us paying with our time and what little money we had left to go collect him – and has led to an impasse with the National Health Service in England that will result in formal complaints to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of both Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. That will be the subject of a future column – and of instructions to solicitors – but, for now, add to this year’s malfeasance the heartbreak – not to mention the broken bones – of a not-yet-16-year-old and ask yourself if this was God’s year or the Devil’s. Or ask any of the 3m people who signed the Regrexit petition (two million more than the majority that voted for Brexit).

And, if you’re still not sure, look to the White House.

It would have been miserable enough, this year, if Barack Obama, the symbol of the hope of, not just our generation, but of every generation before that ever to have risen in this hemisphere, had to hand over the Oval Office to a Republican, any Republican.

But this year, this caca-splat, mud’ass, strangle-your-spirit firetrucker of an excrement-filled, pus-ridden year, will have Minshall’s Angel hand the American presidency to the biggest jackass ever to hold office anywhere in the world. The Jackass-elect makes the world yearn for the genius of George Dubya Bush, the statesmanship of Forbes Burnham, the self-deprecation of Robert Mugabe, the tenderness of Margaret Thatcher, the integrity of Henry Kissinger and the respect for the citizen of Stalin and Pol Pot.

If you were going to take your own life, this would be the year to do it: the most hopeless act imaginable for the most hopeless time, so far, in our reality.

Over the last six decades – I chuckle to think this was supposed to be a “golden year” for me, in that I, who was born in 1958, turned age 58 in June – I’ve learned never to say, “Oh, it could be worse” – because it inevitably promptly gets; but you have the conviction that next year surely must be better.

If we can all manage to survive the last few hours of this scum-sucking wanker.

BC Pires knows that inanimate concepts like “time” cannot really be evil, far less specific units of it – but this was still either one hell of a year or one year of Hell

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