Happy New Year and all that gubbins. I set out with the intention of writing a flippant and silly set of "predictions" for 2020 but then I realised I wasn't very funny. Instead, here are some musings about the year ahead in politics, science, and entertainment.
Cult of Personality.
I think I just saw you shudder and involuntarily gag as you read "politics". It’s ok. You can skip ahead if you like. I don’t mind. Yesterday I was (sort of) joking about diving into the click bait cesspool and using headlines like “Greta Thunberg to enter Labour leadership race?”
Obviously I’m not going to. Right? But someone will. Many people will. And once in a while there’s going to be a seemingly ridiculous headline attached to a seemingly ridiculous article that is actually true. With this in mind, I’m plumping for a non-politician to make a move into politics. It might be an actor – probably not Hugh Grant, but similar – or maybe someone from the sports world. The possibility for oh so witty headlines would be endless, plus, a celebrity turning to politics isn’t that unlikely is it? 2020 could be the year it happens in Britain. My money is on a YouTuber going for politics instead of boxing. Not much difference, some might say.
Doctor’s appointment? It costs an arm and a leg.
The NHS is NOT being sold off. Jeez, we’ve been told that. It’s been pinky promised so, will YOU PLEASE STOP GOING ON ABOUT IT?
But…well, there’s more than one way to fleece someone in need of medical treatment isn’t there? I’d offer poor odds that an announcement – made very quietly, probably hidden behind a pay wall – will reveal some kind of paid service has slipped in a bit like those online shopping sites that spring some obscene postage and packaging charges right at the last minute. This could come in the form of paying for a type of “express” service when trying to make an appointment with your GP or maybe fines for missed or cancelled appointments. How about a premium rate phone service? Your local surgery might go through a rebranding before you find out it’s been bought by someone from oversees who couldn’t get the football club they wanted due to failing the fit and proper persons check.
Anyway, as much as I clearly trust all of the honest as the day is long politicians I shall be picking up every penny I see and putting it in my “I’m-getting-old-and-will-probably-need-some-medical-help” fund.
New Kids on the P-Block.
Just because something was a failure, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea. So, just as my house hasn’t seen the last of my appalling DIY, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of new political parties in Britain. For sure, we can acknowledge that everything about the formation, organisation; hell, even the naming of the Change UK Party was an abysmal failure. Why would anyone think another new political party could work? I mean, aside from maybe making a quid or two.
My simple thinking is that according to the never ending vox pops of the last couple of months there were a significant number of people voting for parties not because they liked them, but because they disliked the other sides more. With this year uniquely offering a new party the chance to blag a “2020 Vision” slogan I reckon a plucky band of rebels can emerge without the stain of any previous party allegiance. All they need is a decent logo, a non-laughable name, tens of millions in funding, and the support of some major media moguls. Should be straightforward for a GoFundMe campaign I reckon.
I want odds please for James Corden to do Carpool Karaoke singing Fairytale of New York with changed lyrics. The only thing I'm not sure about is who he'll rope in to duet with him.
After No Time for Dying (which sounds like an Iron Maiden album) we’re going to get a new James Bond. There is a smorgasbord of enticing choices so let’s get prepared for a fresh batch of enlightening social media declarations that “Bond is a white man, the books say so” closely followed by a vaguely interesting but ultimately safe choice to be the licensed to kill spy. As an act of appeasement, producers will then announce a spin off film/TV series with a non-white/male lead. Maybe it will be called Bondage.
Nostalgia is going to kick into overdrive this year with the return of Bad Boys, Top Gun, Ghosbusters (again), Bill and Ted, and Coming to America. So which stars of yesteryear might be primed for a comeback in 2020? Is this the year the money proves too much to prevent the Gallagher brothers inflicting an Oasis reunion on the world? How about the return of Scott and Charlene to Neighbours? The Americans have brought back Magnum PI and Hawaii FIVE-O for the telly in the last couple of years so maybe we'll get a re-booted Lovejoy. Or Worzel Gummidge. What? Oh.
A few years ago (could be 10, could be 5, might be 3, who knows; time lost meaning around 2016 didn’t it?) I remember someone excitedly telling me about graphene – stronger than steel, thinner than paper - and in particular how graphene paper could transform EVERYTHING. Especially exciting was its potential use for super thin and foldable electronics. Since then I’ve not heard much but a brief bit of skim researching suggests we could see graphene used for a multitude of life changing purposes including filtering sea water and even detecting cancerous cells. Look, I’m not a naturally optimistic person so maybe I’m hoping beyond hope for a breakthrough with graphene this year but I want my sci-fi future dammit.
Despite sounding like it could be: a) a new social network; b) a Chocolate bar; c) the acronym for a criminal organisation; CRISPR is still the most far fetched real science I’ve heard about since UnLimited Theatre did a show about teleportation.
CRISPR is not only very real, it is also as terrifying as it is potentially brilliant. In its simplest form it is a gene editing tool, turning genes on or off and altering parts of DNA. What could it do? Wipe out malaria spreading mosquitoes, reverse deafness, treat blindness, alter human embryos…
Sounds like something we need to be careful about aand not start experimenting on humans with just yet and maybe – what? Oh. Yeah. Except it might be a late as a scientist altered the DNA of twin girls to make them immune to HIV. The scientist involved got slapped with a big fine and was jailed by the Chinese government right at the end of 2019.
Incidentally, one of my favourite podcast episodes was about CRISPR and you can follow this link to listen.
Whenever I'm in schools, I love talking to classes about space (sure, the class are supposed to be looking at subordinating connections but who doesn't want to hear about Michael Collins hurtling around the moon all by himself?) and one of the things we talk about is human beings going to Mars. This gets us talking about how long a return trip to Mars would be and how it would take less time if we left when Mars and Earth orbits come closer than usual. Guess what? 2020 is one of those times. This means they are up to four different missions to Mars launching this year.
With it being an election year in America what odds we hear announcement about NASA’s long mooted Mars trip? I've taken a careful look at all of this and narrowly concluded that the chances of me making it as an astronaut are getting slimmer, which is ironic really as...yeah. Never fear! The "affordable" space travel is coming this year to us via some obnoxious billionaires. Woo! After all, Virgin trains ave been such a resounding success that there's no way anything could go wrong with them firing you into orbit.
Which maybe sums up my own expectations for 2020: Shoot for the stars, but maybe settle for a seat on the floor with the faint whiff of piss for company.