2022 was a trying year for many, so as we look forward to the promise of 2023, I would like to point out some of the many positives that might only be apparent to the naked mind of a genuine Diva.
For example, it was a fantastic year for removal firms. In particular the ones that handle Number 10. It didn’t quite make up for the £33bn lost as a result of not being in the single market – or the £30bn vaporised by one of last year’s Prime-Minister-cohort – but it’s not to be sniffed at.
And talking of PMs – they do not last like they used to. Bird flu? Brexine-spongiform-enstupiditis? Cheap imports that go phut the minute you turn them on? We need to get to the bottom of it.
It was a complete surprise that Boris turned out to be a bounder – and we were very glad to be rid of him. Until the Tory party elected a fully-functioning lunatic. She didn’t last long, but she didn’t need to. She promised to hit the ground on day one – and she gave it such a wallop that the economy packed its bags and headed for the Cayman Islands.
I would like to think that she is hiding under a slimy stone wondering how she can ever make it up to the British people, but I gather she is on a world tour to tell absolutely everyone why she was right all along.
You may wish to pause a moment to wail – and perhaps give your teeth a little gnash.
But we mustn’t dwell on the negative when there is so much positive to report.
For example, the Tories have become so much more inclusive: they used to be the party that rode roughshod over the poor in order to protect the interests of business, the economy, and the very rich. They still ride roughshod over the poor,but now they do the sameto business and the economy, and stick to protecting the simple interests of a handful of the super-rich and a few hard-of-thinking patriots.
It is an unusual approach – and not fully tested – but they are paying for it all with cuts to absolutely everything, which is going pretty well, I think. Apart from all the on-strike-on-strike-on-strike-on-strike.
But I am sure all will be well, just as soon as people settle down and realise that professionals using food banks and burning their books to keep warm is perfectly normal in a nation that decides to have a trade war with itself. Although, as insurance, I do urge you all to become super-rich as soon as you have a moment.
They have also brought in far more choice about healthcare: you now get to choose whether you have a telephone conversation with your GP or do a bit of googling. And when you get to hospital you can choose whether you stay in the ambulance for a few hours or get taken home again. And they have now extended this choice to illness itself: if you are thinking of having a heart attack, you can choose the day you have it. Although you are warmly invited to not have it on a Wednesday*.
* Other days to not have a heart attack will be available shortly.
And on the subject of health, I am pleased to see that the government is finally tackling the nation’s obesity. Using the benefits system to encourage people to give up eating and shiver themselves thin is a stroke of genius – costs practically nothing, encourages them to stop being poor, and gives a real boost to the fight against climate change. Although, take a moment to send thoughts and prayers to the CEOs of all the food conglomerates: they rely on poor people eating themselves fat for their Christmas bonuses.
Which just goes to show that nobody is immune from the cost of living crisis.
And the benefits are not only obvious in healthcare: they have done much to improve the lives of people in the arts. Hundreds of people who work for ENO are delighted that after a lifetime of hard grind – some of them have been slogging away since they were small children – they are not only going to have a well-earned rest, but many of them will get to try out the government’s anti-obesity strategy. And we all know how pudgy some of us singers are.
What’s more, the government will save £12million, which will make all the difference to the £63bn loss to the exchequer, and more than make up for the £29bn it spent on track and trace that neither tracked nor traced.
But on that point, I don’t think it’s fair to cast blame – they had to deal with everything the pandemic threw at them while suffering from world-beating hangovers. And having the very essence of their work-meeting definition torn apart by a meddling civil servant who clearly had no idea that canapés and prossecco are as integral to successful meetings as a stapler, well-sharpened pencils, and a comfortable place to vomit.
As to what I have been up to last year: my big news is that I have been improving my counting – to be precise, counting backwards – and it gives me hours of fun. It’s all to do with taking back control. I used to travel to Europe in a most undisciplined way – I’d go whenever I felt like and stay as long as I liked: I was completely out of control. And I was not alone – all over the country there were millions of people doing the same thing.
But then a handful of people stepped in to rescue us. It hasn’t been popular but it has achieved total success: I – and all those like me – am completely cured: I can spend 90 days out of 180 in Europe, and that’s it.
And who could want more – apart from students, and digital nomads, and writers, and the retired, and singers rehearsing a show, and people with houses there, and people with cross-channel love-interests; I may have missed a few, but basically hardly anyone – so no call for complaining.
To spice things up a little and keep me on my toes, the 180-day period keeps moving. So each time I enter Europe, from the day I arrive I must count back 180 days and see how many days I have already spent, and therefore how many I have left; as the days advance, previous days expire and can be replaced by more days.
So long as there’s a big enough gap.
Which I think is 90 days, but it might be 180.
Nobody is quite sure.
Yes, there are apps to help, but their job is to add variety not certainty. I have three: two of them said that on 27th December I would have 65 days to use if I wanted; the third said I could have 4.
So I get all the fun of guessing which one is right.
Yes, there are penalties if I don’t – unspecified fines, deportations, 3–year bans – but I shall not dwell on the negatives: ending Freedom of Movement is one of the main benefits of Brexit, so I am determined to make the most of it.
And on the subject of Brexit benefits, I am incredibly excited that I will soon be able to purchase a really powerful vacuum cleaner – yes, heard it from the arch-vacuumer, Jacob Rees-Mogg himself. What that man doesn’t know about the miseries of inadequate suction wouldn’t fit on the back of a fag-packet.
My current vacuum cleaner has just said it doesn’t know why I’m bothered, and did I know that it worked better if I actually turned it on… and took it out of the original packaging.
So rude. And what kind of domestic appliance chooses to criticise an artistic attitude to housework just to ruin my quiet enjoyment of one of the very reasons some people voted to leave the EU.
I do have one great sadness to report: I know that the cost of living crisis is hitting everyone, but the doubling of electricity prices means I literally no longer save the price of a bottle of Puligny Montrachet every time I charge my EV.
I am in complete despair. I didn’t actually buy any, but how will I ever feel smug again?
And finally, a word about the American ice-storm that ended the year: you are probably thinking it’s another devastating consequence of climate-change. But it’s just the sound of Trump losing his temper over threats to prosecute him.
Happy New Year.