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Only one thing is written in the stars... que sera.

Byline: Dan O'Neill

WELL folks, here we go again, the start of a bright (?) new year and predictably (it's catching) you can't open a newspaper or magazine without being told what 2012 will bring.

During this first week of January the nation's seers and soothsayers earn their corn, or maybe Capricorn, by telling us what's happening before it happens but never telling us afterwards why it didn't happen.

As I've sometimes reflected, these oracles operate because 13' billion years ago last Friday week there was one helluva bang, the celebrated Big Bang no less, sprinkling stars like confetti across space before surrounding them with planets, on one of which a couple of million years ago, our ancestors began their march to the moon.

In passing, you can't say that if you're a Republican contender in the race to take on Obama later this year. Nope, those hopefuls assembled in Iowa this week have to bleat that Gawd clocked on to open the show in October, 4004BC, otherwise they lose the crucial vote of the Christian right - meaning the 50% of Americans who believe that evolution is fiction, Genesis fact. And that Noah bunged a brace of baby dinosaurs aboard his ark.

Anyway, according to stargazers like Russell Grant, this week propelled by his Strictly antics into a profitable (prophet-able?) job with a tabloid - that Big Bang decided our fate down here on earth, our futures decreed by the movements of eight chunks of rock circling a second-rate star on the fringe of a quite commonplace spiral galaxy.

It used to be nine chunks of rock until August 2006 when Pluto was dispatched to the doghouse, planet status withdrawn because of small size. So didn't that make all previous prophecies based on Pluto's perambulations null and void? Don't be daft! Russell and the rest simply handed Pluto a minor role and carried on as normal.

Now let me make a prediction of my own. Not one of our assembled astrologers will foretell anything of importance that happens this year. They will write airy-fairy stuff about the lurv coming into your life and the amazing job offers awaiting, but don't expect them to predict something like the eurozone crisis or the August riots or the Arab Spring - because they sure didn't last year.

Ever seen a front page picture of Prince William's little sister? No? Odd, because one of our more prominent newspaper prophets told us in 1992 that Diana would be adding a baby girl to the family that year.

At the same time we learned that Frankie Howerd was heading for a sensational showbiz triumph with a huge hit record as a bonus.

Instead, it was RIP Frankie. Meanwhile, if they can draw aside the veil shading the future, why hasn't Russell or one of his mates ever come up with a Eurolottery jackpot? The only prophet I've come across who got it right was the delicious Doris Day who trilled Que Sera, Sera, the future's not ours to see. Too right Doris. Who really wants to know what 2012 will bring? NOW HAVE YOUR SAY Do you agree with Dan? email LET'S LOOK FORWARD TO A YEAR OF BREAD AND CIRCUSES I KNOW of at least one thing the new year will bring. This year we will see sycophancy and sugary sentiment rise to new heights - or, if you prefer, drop to new lows - when the nation forgets its woes and celebrates Mrs Windsor's Diamond Jubilee.

She will receive the same sort of ridiculous reverence shown to the recently departed Kim Jong-il. The country's monarchists won't go quite as far as describing her birth as miraculous, no dancing stars over her Mayfair mansion birthplace as seen over the Korean log cabin where Kim made his debut.

Given the state of the country, the homelessness, the unemployment, the cuts, the rising prices (rocketing rail fares) and the rest I can only wonder at how prescient the playwright John Osborne was when he declared years ago that "The monarchy is the gold filling in a mouthful of decay." Has there ever been a better summing-up? Another quote from an even earlier writer can be used about the Olympics and the frenzy surrounding them: Juvenal wrote that "Romans long only for two things, bread and the games of the circus." Yep, bread and circuses, the Roman emperors' answer to the plight of the plebs. And it will work, ever so briefly 2,000 years on.

Then the bills for Olympics and Jubilee will come in and it'll be back to reality. Happy New Year.


* Unpredictable... but shouldn't the soothsayers have been able to foretell the Tottenham riots which sparked a summer of unrest last year?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 4, 2012
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