New Year’s Eve often brings with it a sense of nostalgia – a desire to look back fondly at the past year. This year, however, is different. I can’t wait to see the back of 2016.
For me, 2016 has been a succession of bad news: one piece of terrible news has been followed swiftly by another.
My dad had a second stroke this year and has been left a frailer, less confident man. This alpha male now relies on me to make decisions for him and ferry him and my mother around. I can see he hates it.
So many celebrities have died this year. George Michael, David Bowie, Prince…
Victoria Wood’s death in April left me devastated. She has been part of my life for more than 30 years. Wood-isms became a firm fixture of the conversations my friends and I had in the 1980s and 90s. We’d quote classic lines at each other in a way that must have made other people think we were bonkers.
Back in the day, one of my friends even set up the Mrs Overall Fan Club. That was in recognition of the comedy genius of the lines Victoria Wood fed her pal Julie Walters in the spoof soap Acorn Antiques.
I didn’t think I could get more upset than when Victoria Wood died.
Until the night of 23 June, that is.
In the run-up to the referendum, Damon and I volunteered for the Remain camp. We believe Britain’s place is in the European Union. So we spent our Saturdays – and one very wet and windy Friday evening – handing out leaflets and drumming up support for the pro-European campaign.
“Roll on 2017. I’m in Marseille for New Year and loving every minute of it. Let this be the start of a good year”
Frankly, on the streets of liberal Brighton and Hove, it wasn’t a very hard sell. As it turned out, the city voted by 69% to stay in the EU.
On the night of the election, Damon and I were there in the counting hall watching the ballot papers being counted. As the night wore on, our delight at seeing such a great response from the city was replaced by horror at the scenes we saw playing out on the TV screens.
The intolerant and the ignorant had won the day.
Unfortunately, the vote has given the green light to worst sections of society. Racist attacks have risen sharply and I have been on the receiving end of homophobic abuse outside my own house.
On top of that, Britain’s prosperity is now at risk, along with my hopes and plans for the future. Living, working – even travelling – freely within the rest of Europe is now up in the air.
The Queen described 1992 as her annus horribilus. Well, this queen has given that title to 2016.
Roll on 2017. I’m in Marseille for New Year and loving every minute of it. Let this be the start of a good year.