Friday, January 2, 2009

That was the year that was ... 2008

Well, it's a dead cert that 2008 is going to go down in the history books as something of a watershed, something that can only be said of only a handful of years since WWII. Let's see, there's 1963, 1973, 1981, 1989, 1997 and now 2008. But what makes a watershed year a watershed year, (and what exactly is a watershed? Personally I find wood makes a much better material for shed construction, more likely to stay, erm, solid). It's hard to put down a recipe if you want to make your own watershed year a la Blue Peter, but a good start would be some of the following ingredients

1. Big changes in politics and government
2. Change of direction in the economic wind
3. Big changes in fashion, music or popular culture
4. The passing away or emergence of an iconic personality

So let's quickly whizz through those watersheds.


Beatlemania is born, but more importantly four lads from Liverpool, it can be said without hype or exaggeration, irreversibly change and influence the path of modern popular music. Profumo scandal brings down long-serving Tory government (and produces world's sexiest photo involving a chair, phwoar!!! But enough about that...)


Oil crisis gives the world a wake-up call that energy is neither cheap nor forever, and as a result teenagers suddenly decided that they like Glam Rock and singers like, erm, Gary Glitter. Somehow somewhat not so "phwoar", unfortunately...


A bit of a minor watershed, I have to admit on a global level, but for Britain the Falklands War revives Margaret Thatcher's political fortunes and properly kick-start Thatcherism (with a capital T), the 80s (with a capital 8 and no apostrophe) and the decade of the Yuppy (with a capital W).


Oh nothing much happened in this year did it? I mean only the beginning of the end of Communism as we know it, the fall of the Berlin Wall and a reverse-domino effect leading eventually to the break-up of the Soviet Union. However Communism survived in China despite Tiananmen Square, or did it......?


A bit of a biggie this one, if one blonde woman did not make 1981 a big year, then another blonde woman certainly made 1997 a really big year. Hong Kong was returned to China, Deng Xiaoping passed away, Tony Blair swept the Tories out of power, and most importantly of all, the Spice Girls hit their peak and, it can be said with total hype and exaggeration, forever changed popular music as we know it. OK well they certainly invented the phrase "girl power", not even Lennon and McCartney influenced language in that way, unless you count "yeah, yeah, yeah". Finally, Diana's death caused the world to react in a way that no-one could have predicted. What on earth made so many people mourn her in such a way they did? Maybe we'll have to wait a little more before we can properly analyse that one.


It's impossible to say how exactly 2008 will be remembered until 2009 has finished and the events that recently unfolded finally reach some kind of conclusion. However economic disaster, runs on banks, collapses of banks, unprecented actions by governments to pump money into banks, and the start of what is either a recession or a depression is key to figure. It's been so gloomy people resorted to watching Mamma Mia at the cinema to try to take their mind off it. Now that IS serious......

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