KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
Loosen your belts, stop all the clocks — we got through it. 2013: the year of triskaidekaphobia; the year so bad, the car industry registered it twice. We made it. Of course, Christmas press deadlines being the cruel mistress that they are, I’m writing these words with 10 days still to go — and I realise that the very act of typing them has probably triggered a tsunami on the far side of the world — but, fingers crossed, we’ve collectively emerged from 2013 with only a light dusting of plaster.
There was even some good stuff, right at the end, which it would have been difficult to foresee back at the end of bleak 2012. Could we have imagined so many news stories about turning corners, exiting bailouts, rising property prices, falling unemployment and economic growth? Conversely, could we have believed them, when the experience on the ground seemed, if anything, worse than in previous years? Focus Ireland provided more Christmas dinners than ever before, the Vincent de Paul were out the door with requests for help and, largely thanks to our friends on the board of the CRC, charities were on their knees scraping around for donations.
But I got my turkey and ham half-price and had I had the time to shop around, I could have bought all the vegetables for, oh, about 10 cents. Actually, I’m no Eddie Hobbs, but I’m not at all convinced that this is a positive development — but still, it did mean that many people didn’t have quite as tight a financial squeeze as they were expecting. And what about that summer, eh? What about that summer? The thing is, we can never tell how things will turn out and sometimes, the years we dread are the most benign of all. For sporting reasons, I generally prefer years that end in even numbers — no matter how sticky they are for 11 months, they always bring the gift of a World Cup or Olympic Games — but aside from the wonderful London Olympics, 2012 was a pretty grim time for most of us. And given the dire state of the economy a year ago, there seemed no real prospect of improvement in a year already blighted by an accident of superstition. And yet, we are where we are, which, for once, is
Stop all the clocks. We got through it: 2013 – the year of triskaidekaphobia, the year so bad, the car industry registered it twice
considerably better than where we expected to be right about now.
So although we can fairly safely assume that there will be a World Cup in 2014 — and that, in spite of the traditional they’ll-never-be-readyin- time forecasts, it will probably run like clockwork — the truth is that the rest of the calendar will remain blank right up until the empty days roll in on top of us. I’d imagine that there will be a whole lot of stuff about the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, and hope it doesn’t become as tacky and tasteless as the Titanic palaver last year, and obviously, Dublin will win their third All Ireland football title in four years (and it’s worth pointing out that in spite of my preference for evennumbered years, the first two of those titles came in odd- ended ones). But aside from all that, que sera sera, as Doris Day once so rightly pointed out. Of course, she also advised us all to whip-crack away, predicting the depressing release of the 50 Shades Of Grey film right there, 50 odd years before it happened.
In the more immediate future, we can expect to hear a whole lot of people complain about how much they dread and hate New Year’s Eve. I used to share their pain: when I was younger, I used to feel as though time itself was sucked out of me by the feverish midnight countdown, and that when it ended, everything else just might as well. Once we managed to get over the Millennium in the company of Joe Dolan live on television from Gleneagles in Killarney, though, I realised that while time matters and moves relentlessly forward, the numbers we attach to it are meaningless. So there was no need to worry about 2013, just as there’s no point in being complacent about 2014.
We will all grow older, very few of us will get wiser, and if we are very, very lucky, we will retain our health and the especially blessed might even be happy. May you be amongst the lucky — and if you don’t like the numbers, just make them up as you go along. Unless you work in the banking sector, obviously: in which case, happy 2014. That’s the one between 2013 and 2015, in case your calculator is out of order.