HAVING just glanced at what’s slated for 2014, it looks such a yawn I’m tempted to do a Rip Van Winkle and snooze my way through it.
That may sound cynical, but the fact that the United Nations has designated MMXIV the International Year of Family Farming and Crystallography doesn’t enthuse. And, no, don’t ask me what ‘crystallography’ is – look it up for yourselves, because I don’t think I’d stand the thrill discovery may bring.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Latvia becomes the 18th EU state to adopt the Euro. So, maybe family farming will be a timely learning experience to offset the single currency’s dubious bounties…joblessness, austerity and slowly being mashed to death by a German woman sporting a pudding-basin haircut, driving a financial steamroller.
At least February looks promising. Tsar Putin will open the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where his repellent, homophobic laws will be temporarily eased, a grilling over sexual orientation won’t replace drug tests and any competitor found wielding a ski pole in an unseemly manner won’t be banished to a gay gulag.
Long ago I ceased to wonder what went through the rapacious minds of those governing world sport – e.g. the IoC and FIFA – when pariah states like Russia and Qatar were awarded showcase spectaculars, despite appalling human rights violations. Money, though, shrieks louder than morality, so sport is just another bankable commodity.
Moving swiftly on, give March a pass, since Comet Holmes reaches its perihelion (again, don’t ask) and similar galactic conditions apply in May, when Faye’s Comet performs astral acrobatics.
At least there’s a solar eclipse to savour in April, so radio telescopes at the ready.
June is jubilee month for soccer…unless you’re an England fan (or my missus), because Hodgson’s plodders have about as much chance of lifting the World Cup in Brazil as a three-legged carthorse has of winning the Derby.
Excuses are already fashioned: it’s was too hot, too windy, the ball too round, the sun was shining in our goalie’s eyes and the other lot had eleven men. Oh, and the ref was blind/bent/barmy (tick whichever is applicable). Besides, he was an Argentinian.
July is another month for sports-averse females to go on a girlie holiday, but it looks marginally brighter for us blokes, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The home nation can expect an avalanche of medals, though – let’s face it – this is a school sports day compared to the Olympics.
Still north of the border, September’s highlight is the Scottish vote on independence. And, since my previous comments on this topic drew threats – of a fate worse than fate worse than death – from stroppy Caledonian separatists, I’ll say no more…except if Scotland braves it alone, I wish them the best of British luck (except they’ll no longer be Brits).
Ditto for Catalans when they hold their referendum in November on whether to quit Spain.
However, whatever your political drift, December should end with a voluble sigh of relief when Western troops finally exit Afghanistan, after 13 years – and 3,395 battlefield casualties – of trying to sort out an intractable conflict against an implacable foe.
If the ongoing aggro following what promised to be the end of the 2nd Iraq War is any yardstick, the hapless Afghans pack less than a dog’s chance of retaining any vestige of democracy. Certainly not with a government so institutionally corrupt facing a Taliban enemy so fanatically obsessed with a 7th Century religious credo.
It might sound churlish to say the opening years of the third millennium have, so far, witnessed an irreconcilable ‘clash of civilizations’, as American political scientist, Samuel P. Huntington, controversially foretold in 1993.
Those useless idiots on the hard Left still castigate this assertion. But the unassailable truth can be seen across swathes of Africa and the Middle East, where what is tantamount to a patchwork Third World War is being waged by the forces of brutal, jihadi fervour against anyone with the temerity to stand in their way.
This year reminders came closer to home – like the hideous slaying of Gunner Lee Rigby – that the battle-fatigued West is not immune to an overspill of hatred that festers in extremist corners of our own Islamic communities and it’s not going to magically vanish.
Meanwhile, wedded as we are to a dotty construct of political correctness, the idea of a multi-cultural, multi-faith Britain isn’t helped by spectacular own goals.
Following hard on the skid-marks of Universities UK’s decision – later revoked – to allow gender segregation at Islamic events on campuses, high street chain, Marks & Spencer, boobed monumentally by absolving Muslim check-out staff from handling pork products and alcohol.
Both were crass, ill-conceived decisions, which backfired by insulting all faiths (plus those of no faith at all), again highlighting how the UK has allowed nonsensical PC to take a wrecking-ball to the nation’s social cohesion.
On a broader canvas, Barack Obama’s lamentably foreign policy will, no doubt, bumble on, frustrating the West’s traditional, regional allies – Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan et al – and reinforcing the view that the President is not the Messiah, just another inept, egotistical politician.
After backtracking on his ‘red lines’ warning to the odious Syrian regime, utterly misreading both Egyptian revolutions, then capitulating to Iran’s lust for nuclear weaponry, Obama is in danger of retreating so far he’ll fall into the Pacific.
There is even a growing belief the President will leave Bashar al-Assad in power, since the secular rebels – who could have toppled the Butcher of Damascus with US support two years ago – have now been ousted by Al Qaeda-affiliated cutthroats, ready to use Syria as a launch-pad to export terror to the West.
Meanwhile, John’s Kerry’s bid to forge a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is downgraded to attaining a mere interim deal, as the Arabs use every ruse to achieve their sole aim of airbrushing the Jewish state from Holy Land history.
But maybe my cynicism will be unfounded, because a New Year should signal a fresh start, with rekindled hope and revitalised spirit.
Like you, I very much yearn for that and 2014 proves to be a happy, healthy, prosperous, peaceful 12 months for all of us.