The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

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.

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