Towards the end of a year I find that I am increasingly irritated by the incessant ‘round up’ television and radio programs offered for our delectation. Even more so this year, at the end of a decade. The variety included: most annoying person, best film of the decade, ‘hit’ that defined the decade (as if one song would magically define ten years). Perhaps the most bizarre was for the best advert of the decade – that’s right -roughly two hours of watching clips of adverts you’re sick of.
While getting a picnic ready for New Year’s Eve on the heath, I had ‘The Most Annoying Person of 2009’ on in the background, and was increasingly perplexed both by the subjects and the insipid ‘experts’ employed to talk about them. It seemed to me that their “annoying” crimes involved transgressing the values of our society, values which we ignore for the rest of the year by encouraging such attention-seeking behaviour. A certain woman was deemed annoying because she was “too old to be wearing that”; a PM because (I am hesitant to quote) “a pensioner is getting more action that me, that makes me angry”. Is this a bit puerile of us? Maybe I should lighten up, as my sibling implored.
This mulled in the back of my mind, but perhaps such programs are needed in the human mind, as markers which help us ‘put to bed’ the past year. In 1919, at the request of David Lloyd George, the Cenotaph was built. Initially, it was a wood and plaster construction created in less than two weeks but within the hour of its unveiling, wreaths and flowers were piled high. In a similar way, funerals are held for anonymous soldiers to mark the end of a life. We are encouraged to pay tribute to the man that could be our brother, father or husband.
Reluctantly, I think markers like ‘The Most Annoying Person’ help us to settle events in our minds, negotiating a pathway of memory towards remembrance. Along with its annoying people 2009 was a good year for me, and despite all the promise of 2010, I was sorry to see it go.