(maybe the weirdness of the phrase ‘yab’ will attract people who have no idea what’s going on!)
Welcome, one and all, to 2015, a year so far not plagued by disease epidemics, violent institutional intolerance, international terrorism, or annoyingly meaningful elections (at least not according to the ‘Trending Topics’ section on Facebook); but 2014 was a year full of all these very real problems, but a whole host of minor inconveniences, slight annoyances, and things that irk you enough to tweet about them, but not quite enough to actually go out and fix them. So while these issues aren’t the most important to fix in this day and age, they’re worth highlighting, and frankly laughing at, if anything just to put them into perspective and start 2015 on a high, by purging all of the problems we found annoying, that we later felt guilty about finding annoying; welcome to the 2014 James Patrick Casey, ‘You Are A Bastard’ Awards, For Services To Quickening The Inevitable Demise Of Humanity.
– My mate Alex, for bringing sport and oppressive dress codes together, by wearing an unashamedly garish Arsenal Football Club tie to school as part of his uniform, which involved a suit and a tie of the wearer’s choosing; I’m not just saying this as a Tottenham fan, by the way, even I have the fashion wherewithal to realise that that was a rather infantile decision there.
– Pigeons, for pissing off both me and this fine person; it has been reported that they ran away from them, and I saw a pigeon get bullied by a dove when I was eating lunch outside one day. I don’t want to engage in some old-fashioned victim-blaming here, but if you’re being pushed around by the international symbol of peace and goodwill, you’re a bit of a failure.
– My Christmas tree, for drooping to such a ridiculous extent that some of the branches are, after just a week of having the tree in the house, borderline vertical, so the baubles keep falling off. I know that Christmas as a concept is disgusting anyway, but if I’m going to buy into the vapid materialism and plant-slaughtering associated with trees, I at least want my fairy lights to be where I put them.
– The entirety of central London, for being so full of roadworks, ineffectual protests, and tube lines that sound like nuclear bombs going off, to the extent that I can’t hear Rise Against’s Swing Life Away when I’m commuting through the city. That is a song that needs to be appreciated in a quiet, clam place, where the lyrics can be listened to properly.
– The concept of improvement, which has left me increasingly cynical about each stage in my life; in the past, it was moving from Primary to Secondary School, then going from GCSEs to A-Levels, but it has never been more annoying than the transition from A-Levels to University, that has not only made me realise (again) that everything I’ve been taught already is a filthy lie, but that the last eighteen years of my life have been almost totally irrelevant when it comes to working in something approaching an adult, intelligent environment.
Bronze Medal – Boris Johnson
There are a number of things I could call our glorious Mayor of London out on here, both across his career in the public eye, and this year alone. But this is a late addition to the list when I and some friends found, to our horror, that he had effectively privatised the sky, in ticketing this year’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, and setting up The Last Of Us-style barricades, made of corrugated metal and patrolled by a positively Orwellian number of police officers, to keep us ticketless plebs outside of the prime viewing locations. Things were then made worse when the screens given to us losers in Trafalgar Square weren’t showing the fireworks, but were in fact bearing the helpful message ‘FIREWORKS NOT SHOWN HERE. FIREWORKS SHOWN ON BBC1’, which was probably meant to dissuade us from staying, but only served to annoy and alienate us from our firework-ruling masters, a bit like chucking half a KFC at a homeless person in your one throwaway attempt to be a nice guy for the year, but it turns out they’re a vegetarian, and as they wipe your half-digested chicken from their face, that’s really no different to yours but is seen as scum because they’re wearing a blanket over their legs and fingerless gloves, they are attacked and brutally killed by a inconveniently-placed back of rabid dogs with a particular fondness for the Pulled Chicken Ultimate Burger, just because you didn’t understand them. You’re like that Boris, except with fireworks instead of chicken, which is somehow even more dangerous.
Also, you managed to piss off my otherwise calm and unconfrontational friend who I saw the fireworks with, turning them from an opinionated, but respectful, reader of Marx into a raving, borderline unintelligible socialist, who abandoned their dignified principles to honestly suggest carving Engels’ face onto the lions in Trafalgar Square with a hammer and sickle in protest at your attempts to sell us the sky. You’d have a spot higher on the list, Boris, if you’d done this stuff earlier in the year, instead of literally in its last hour in a desperate attempt to get a spot on this illustrious list, but I fear that if you had, my friend would have been so enraged he’d have led a Lenin-style revolution to wrest control of London, abolished the concept of money, started wearing overalls and breaking wind in the palaces of the mighty, and would be presently suspended from a helicopter circling Nelson’s Column, chiselling Marx’s face onto Nelson’s for the good of the people. But he’s not, so you’re stuck at number three, Boris.
Silver Medal – Sam Ingasoll, President of the UCLU Boat Club
I don’t even know if that’s how you spell his name, but I try to avoid the prick as much as possible so I’m not bothering to look it up; he gets a rather lofty spot on the list because of his recent proposal to eliminate the positions of Women’s Officer and Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer here at UCL, because the union needs to make some cutbacks to save money, so obviously women and non-white people should be the first to get frakked over, right? There’s an, admittedly not wonderfully-written, article here from our current Women’s Officer on the subject if you’re interested.
Sam finishes second on my list (and hopefully his first second-place of the year after we count up the votes for and against his idiotic proposal in a few weeks, #banter) because of the prioritisation of money over people; I understand that the union will go bust, and that we can’t have an officer to represent every single group of people that exists at UCL (people that suggest we should have a Northern Students’ Officer, for students from the north of England, are a particular example), but he’s suggesting screwing over a rather large group of people at UCL – women are the majority of students, after all – so clubs and societies can have a bit more cash. Speaking as a member of three, pretty underfunded, sports clubs, this’d be a great thing to have, but these clubs are optional extras that a few of us choose to do in addition to our studies; every woman, and every non-white student at UCL will be screwed over by this proposal if it passes, regardless of what they choose to do. I don’t think it’s right to prioritise extra-curricular activities over the very way in which over half the student body exists at UCL in this way.
But these are just opinions, and can be debated back and forth, and shot down and built up endlessly, like sandcastles being stamped on by cute flashback kiddie versions of Russell Brand and Nigel Farage; Sam gets his spot on this list because of the way he tried to force his motion though, using a form of democracy that Joseph Stalin would consider a bit of a piss-take. The sports societies that supported his motion (thankfully none of mine) made attendance to the vote compulsory for their members, and when they miraculously didn’t win an outright majority, his supporters threw a hissy fit and adjourned the meeting, because if you can’t win there’s really no point in the concept of democracy being carried out, right guys? He’s trivialised the whole thing, making it less about the very important and sophisticated discussion of whether to prioritise liberation for a few groups or economic gain for a potentially larger group of people, and more about which side can mobilise more voters to back them unconditionally, like that scene in The Two Towers where the Uruk-Hai are pulled as mindless war machines out of the Earth for a singular purpose, and have no idea of what they’re fighting for, or why, but they’ll fight for it to the death, and split the skull of any unfortunate feminist, non-white person or merely informed observer who dares to stand in their way. I’ve been reduced to whoring the vote out to publications I write for and societies I’m part of, in an attempt to collect a rag-tag band of Hobbits from across UCL to put up some kind of resistance, but this isn’t Middle Earth, there isn’t a Ring to fight for, so we’ll probably be slaughtered at the next vote, like Frodo and Sam really should have been at some point in their quest if you think about it.
So Sam Ingasoll gets this year’s silver medal, for potentially screwing over half of the population of an entire university, and reminding me of Middle-Earth and how much better the Lord Of The Rings films are than the Hobbit ones. Cheers, you wanker.
Gold Medal – James Patrick Casey
Yes, in a surprise turn of events I have graciously awarded myself first place in a competition I myself made up! (I promise I didn’t plan this all along, it’s just kinda happened.) I’ve been the greatest source of inconvenience, rage and irritation for me consistently throughout the year, a whole twelve months of nonsense that the others on this list can only dream of getting close to, with their individual events of dickishness; I’ve realised that I’m definitely the sort of person I’d hate if I wasn’t myself – I’m that guy, strutting around in trackies like he doesn’t care about what he wears like some kind of cave-dweller, flaunting his three blogs and then thousand views at everyone he meets, like the literary equivalent of a petrolhead showing off his Hummer the size of an island in a small Asian archipelago to make up for the fact that he’s hung like a button mushroom sliced up and cast haphazardly into a stir fry, and tossing his middle name out onto the Internet like he’s some great literary critic, or thinker of our time, whereas really he just wanted a new email address, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ was taken, and has stuck with the middle name thing for continuity’s sake for four frakking years.
I don’t work for my degree, basically making the last four degree-oriented years of my life meaningless because I could be doing all this shit at Oxford Brooks University for all I care, treat my friends like garbage by playing handball instead of hanging out with them, or oversleeping and arriving two hours late for a birthday party I didn’t take a present to anyway because I’m a dick, and tear into everything uplifting from Christmas to wildlife to people with different opinions, like a poundland Charlie Brooker who’s a one-trick pony that’s been doing the same trick for fourteen consecutive, relentless, mind-numbing months now, with no sign of stylistic developments in my writing, or an interest in engaging with things like ‘culture’ and ‘books’, instead going for walks around the same old park listening to Anti-Flag.
I’m a failure at being straight edge – I’ve still not given up eating meat – but I ram these two words down the throat of everyone I meet like it validates the lifestyle choices that I don’t really stick to, I don’t have the disciple to stick to a project for more than five minutes so I’ll never be a novelist, and I’m too proud to suck it up, do a law conversion course, and get a real job to pay my parents, teachers, family, friends and other supporters back for eighteen years of giving me chances, that I’m going to piss away trying to be a poet or some shit.
And I do this stuff consistently; I’d give myself a lifetime achievement award, but I feel I’ll come up with a thousand new ways to make me hate myself in 2015, an infinite number of jokes a little too offensive, of references a little too obscure to be funny that cross the line into nerdish elitism, and of repeated lines about why jeans and makeup and generally not dressing like a homeless person is the worst thing a person can do.
So here’s to 2015, a year of anger, hatred and loathing of all things irrelevant and menial; because if great people tackle the big problems of the world, what can the rest of us do but sit, watch, and have a go at the writing on the latest season of Sherlock.