Does any more need to be said about what an awful year 2016 has been? In brief – Syria, Bowie, Brexit, Trump, attacks on Nice, Orlando, Brussels… For Syria, Brexit and Trump, there are lists of hideous events and poisonous rhetoric that have helped to make 2016 notorious even before it’s ended. Finding the good in such a year is not only challenging, but necessary. The alternative would be to shut down and sulk, permitting the bad things to fester and grow worse in the mind’s eye.
As for the positive side, for a start there was the election of Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor; women in Saudi Arabia finally got the right to vote; and a solar-powered plane circumnavigated the world. Other good things to happen in 2016 have come from the world of sport. Leicester City football club won the Premier League, having started the season with odds of 5000-1. There was Team GB’s fabulous performance in the Summer Olympics. And on the other side of the Atlantic, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series – a feat they hadn’t done since 1908.
Other good things have emerged out of the many horrible and sad events to happen in 2016. The attack on Nice, my second home, has brought about feelings of solidarity with my neighbours and acquaintances. The shock and sadness of David Bowie’s death similarly connected me with other fans and people whose younger selves had also been transformed and liberated by his creativity. Following the Brexit vote, I have joined several organisations to stay informed and to protest against the economically stupid and xenophobic trail left behind – I have never signed so many petitions and written to so many political representatives as I have in the past six months. Again, there is the sense of unity which is comforting, but to this I must add the satisfaction of doing something political and participating in the bigger debate.
While the political is personal, there is the smaller concentric circle of my personal life. In 2016, David and I went to America to visit friends and I was reunited with a friend I hadn’t seen in 34 years. I also visited my father’s grave for the first time – a sad, but fulfilling experience. Back in England and France, we have enjoyed good health and the company of friends and family, interspersed with reading, writing, playing golf and going to cinemas, concerts, galleries etc. Life has been full and satisfying, even under the cloud of this annus horribilis.
Let’s hope for a better 2017.