As 2016 limps to an end, still wearing its Grim Reaper outfit, because it just can’t be bothered to get out of it anymore, I was staring out of my window and thinking. This is not unusual, I do that a great deal. Mostly when I should be working. But I was thinking about 2016, specifically, and reflecting on all the souls it’s taken. It’s been relentless in the world.
It’s as if 2016 arrived, looked around, and thought ‘I know! I’m going to dress up as The Grim Reaper today.’ And then it did, and it got all into the role playing and started knocking off people, left, right and centre, starting with David Bowie. 2016 seemed to like the power, so a few days later, it took Alan Rickman. Ferociously talented, brilliantly clever, much-loved people. And then it thought to itself ‘Hell, I think I’ll just stay in this outfit for a bit longer’, and took Prince in April.
In June, it swanned in in its Grim Reaper suit and killed Mohamed Ali, then just a couple of weeks later, as the Brits started getting all excited about summer coming and exposing their English Rose skins to the sun in parks everywhere, 2016 arrived and stomped shared humanity into the pavement, leaving behind it a trail of Brexit despair.
In August, Gene Wilder.
In October, still loving its fancy dress getup, it tripped up Pete Burns and stopped him spinning around, once and for all. And then November came, and I hoped that 2016 would drop its Grim Reaper outfit and put on a Star Spangled Banner pant suit.
Nope. It sharpened its scythe and killed common sense and inclusiveness. And as if Trump winning wasn’t enough, it took poet extraordinaire, genius lyricist and musician Leonard Cohen, leaving me sobbing. And then it took Fidel Castro, AA Gill and everybody’s favourite TV dad, Alan Thicke. And that was just (some of) the celebrities. Celebrities that lived well, who had it easy, comparatively.
I write about them because I can’t bring myself to write about all the human tragedies and atrocities that 2016 has thrown out or the one that is, by far, the most horrific of them all. The one that is happening as I sit here, while the world watches and does nothing. Aleppo. The attacks on the innocent, unnamed and ferociously neglected souls that 2016 is claiming, now, in that shelled city of hell. I don’t know enough about it to make any comment on the politics, but I know enough from a human point-of-view to know that what’s happening is tragic in the biggest sense of the word, and equally horrific.
Good grief, 2016, it’s time for you to bugger off and take your Grim Reaper outfit with you. Please. And everybody else? The only thing to do is love. We’re going to have to love each other out of this. And if, like me, you’re feeling helpless about Aleppo, where ‘loving each other out of this’ is not nearly enough, Gift of the Givers are doing incredible work in Syria and need donations.
Do it with love.