THE year is 2024. Big Ben – renamed Benjamina so as not to offend the matriarchy – has struck midnight, the skies are eerily quiet (fireworks are a health ’n’ safety no-no).
A newborn baby, innocent enough to have offended not a single soul, entertains the cheering masses supping from their 0% Coronas. (Performance dehancer alcohol has long since been banned).
Welcome to the future. Yep, if the past 12 months has shown us anything, it’s that literally nothing lasts for ever.
Music, art, drama, people — all come and go. Or, to be more accurate, they all come — and then get cancelled.
2022 was the year we reached Peak Woke.
Fittingly then, on the last day of the year, it was revealed that Sir Hubert Parry, the composer of Jerusalem, has effectively been cancelled by the Royal College of Music.
READ MORE FROM CLEMMIE MOODIE
The once-heralded composer has basically been written off over some dodgy comments he made on race back in the day.
That’s back in the day when everyone was dodgy and awful and about as illuminated as Bernard Manning.
The BBC is far too terrified to play it in its original guise. “You scumbag, you maggot/You cheap lousy faggot” are, admittedly, not terribly granny-friendly.
Most read in The Sun
But, back in the day — 1988 when it was released — Granny was probably first up, dancing round the tree, mulled wine in hand, when this banger came on.
Because, obviously, it was a different time.
Arguably cancel culture isn’t all bad. Kanye West, an anti-Semitic buffoon, will no longer be found on Radio 1 or 2. (Quite how Radio 2 listeners will cope without Gold Digger remains to be seen.)
Ditto one of my favourite songs of all time, 1968’s Young Girl (by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap).
Of course, the lyrics, when inspected, are mildly horrifying. “Young girl/ My love for you is way out of line/You led me to believe you’re old enough”. Awful, obviously,
But, just like some of the Rolling Stones’ more problematic songs — Brown Sugar, Stupid Girl and Stray Cat Blues (the latter about Mick Jagger’s desire to sleep with a 15-year-old groupie) — they were of their time. That time may, in 2023 hindsight, be horrific, but we cannot rewrite history.
Nor can we delete it.
Last month Qatar — slammed for its antiquated, by Western standards, anti-LGBT laws, plus its treatment of women and migrants — hosted the World Cup.
David Beckham lost his Goldenballs status for taking Qatari cash, while comedian Joe Lycett was so busy trying to cancel Beckham he forgot that he, too, had also played gigs in Qatar.
Had many people had their way, the whole tournament would have been scrapped.
In which case we’d have been deprived of the safest World Cup in history, and the greatest final of all time.
In October James Corden got the 21st Century ducking stool treatment. His crime? Sending back an omelette twice in a publicity-loving restaurant.
Whether he finds work here upon his return to the UK remains to be seen.
These are terrifying times. At some point, it’s got to stop.
Before we all become too terrified to sneeze out of turn, let alone speak.
Many Happy returns for Valley’s Sarah
AND lo and behold, a National Treasure is born. On Sunday night, Sarah Lancashire once again stole every scene in the long-awaited return of Happy Valley, cementing her place as one of the country’s leading actors – if not its best (Look away now Dames Judy, Helen and Maggie).
Playing Sergeant Catherine Cawood, the actress – who has come a long, long way since her Raquel-on-Corrie days – has, as Simon Cowell might say, made the role her own.
Aged 58, she also become that rare beast – someone universally liked by viewers.
With five million tuning in, the star was trending on Twitter yesterday – with not a single negative comment to be found.
Praise also to Yorkshire-born show writer Sally Wainwright.
As one Twitter user observed: “We talk a lot about nepotism in the arts.
“Very rarely do we elevate the many exceptional actors who cut their teeth in working-class soaps such as EastEnders and Corrie.
“I love how Sally Wainwright bucks this trend. Writing brilliant parts for Sarah Lancashire, Suranne Jones, etc.”
Saucy sight in store
PARENTS got more than they bargained for when they took their kids to see Thor the walrus in Scarborough over the weekend.
The two-ton beast – someone had a heavy Christmas – has been blobbing his way around European coastlines as he heads back to chillier waters.
Alas, sadly, Thor’s “me time” all proved a bit too much for him.
He was caught, and I quote, “performing a solo sex act on the harbour slipway”.
Let’s hope Thor finds his happy ending soon.
UNQUESTIONABLY the most depressing sight of the past week was footage of shoppers scrapping for bottles of energy drink Prime.
The £1.99 artificial-sweetener-and-preservative-laden marketing gimmick drink – which comes in wholesome, organic-sounding flavours including Ice Pop, Blue Raspberry and Meta Moon – have been selling out at hugely inflated prices over the past few weeks.
Adults physically mauling and shoving kids out the way of Aldi’s Aisle 14 to get their paws on a bottle of blue electrolytes is bleak beyond measure.
Why it’s game on at the Beeb
THE Beeb has finally ditched its leftie liberalism and is going full Hunger Games, it transpires.
BBC News presenters will be forced to “fight for their jobs” in a series of screen tests.
Up to 14 presenters could be axed as part of a rebrand, with current hosts asked to take a studio-based “practical test” lasting 40 minutes. Those that fail to impress could be sacked.
Which, if you’re listening BBC commissioners, in itself sounds like a brilliantly dark new reality TV series.
TAKING THE MICK
NEW year, new strikes.
Mick Lynch, staunchly refusing to turn over any new leaves whatsoever, continues to ensure the start of 2023 will be in keeping with the end of 2022: a little bit s**t.
With national rail strikes once again commencing today – heralding the worst set of train strikes in 30 years – it has now emerged that 20,000 workers represented by the RMT have pocketed £154million in bonuses over the past decade.
Let’s not forget this is a union boss – a man on £87,000 a year – who told a rally: “We refuse to be poor any more.”
I’m sure many a Brit would love to be as “poor” as Mick and his cronies.
NOT all superheroes wear capes. Congratulations to 53-year-old Gary McKee, who has just completed his 365th marathon in a year, raising £1.1million for Hospice At Home West Cumbria and Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of his late father.
The dad-of-three, with absolutely minimal Press coverage, fuss or self-promoting Instagram selfies, covered 9,569 miles – the distance from his Cumbria home to Australia.
To sponsor this absolute champ, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/threesixfive.
OFFICIAL figures show police forces nationwide have been forced to order thousands of trousers with waistbands ranging from 40in to a gargantuan 56in.
It comes after Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley claimed a “big proportion” of police were not “proportionately deployable” due to health and performance issues.
Jokes aside about the thin blue line and TV’s Fat Sweaty Coppers sketches, XXL plods really do sum up the state of British policing today.
WELL, my year got off to a flier.
A smug dog walk on New Year’s Day with Dora the miniature dachshund (and her pals) quickly took a turn for the worse . . . culminating in me accidentally picking up another dog’s poo.
And, judging by the size of it, one expelled by some sort of Great Dane; there was absolutely nothing miniature about this repugnant specimen.
Realising the monumental error mid-scoop, my retch could probably have been heard in Greater Manchester.
A sip-up already
SUCCESS, mused Winston Churchill, is the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
On this basis, I’ve utterly nailed Dry January.
Read More on The Sun
Yup, at exactly 6pm on Sunday, Jan 1 – 18 whole hours into sobriety – I cracked, and polished off half a bottle of Rioja. And a Patron XO Cafe tequila shot.
Still, my enthusiasm knows no bounds.