DO you remember when decades could be easily classified and pigeon-holed? Like the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and ‘Swinging Sixties’?
Just saying the words ‘Fifties’ or ‘Eighties’ conjures up images in our minds of where we were as individuals, or collectively as a nation, for that ten-year period.
Sure, very few people really did roar and do the jitterbug in the poverty-stricken 1920s, and the only people swinging in the 1960s were those lucky enough to be aged between 16 and say 25 at that time.
But the labels for the decades stuck.
Then the millennium came in and we hadn’t a clue what to call that first decade: ‘The Noughties’ seems to have won out over ‘The Zeroes’ but it has a very shaky grip on the years from 2000 to 2009.
As for the decade that is about to end, what will posterity name that? After all, the years from 1910 to 1919 were never given a label, although that may be because large swathes of humanity spent them dying on some foreign field.
For the purposes of this column, I am going with ‘The Teenies’, simply because it chimes nicely after ‘The Noughties’, and ‘The Teens’ could easily be mixed up with those grumpy types who spend all day in their bedrooms listening to depressing music and grunting to family members instead of, you know, talking..
I’ve had a look back at the decade just gone and come up with some of my highs and lows, some personal, others collective as a nation.
A happy new year to you and yours — and let’s hope ‘The Twenties’ is a roaring decade for us all!
Every time I think of President George W. Bush being lip-read drawling the words “That was some weird sh*t” while sat behind President Donald Trump as he concluded his inauguration speech in 2017, it makes me giggle.
The fact Bush is supposed to be on the same side as Republican Trump, and also that Bush is often portrayed as hardly being Einstein himself, somehow makes the whole scene more deliciously farcical.
The world takes Trump far too seriously. Let’s enjoy him while we can!
Without a doubt, this has to be Brexit.
I went to bed on June 23, 2016, trusting the exit polls which had suggested Britain had voted ‘Remain’. For some reason I awoke around 5am, checked my phone, and blurted an expletive in shock.
What else could this be for a proud daddy, than to be at the birth of his first daughter?
After three sons in the previous decade, Laura came into my life in 2015 — and the fact she was a home birth made it even more special.
Her brothers had gone to bed the previous night unaware their mother was in labour, and came downstairs the next morning to see the new arrival all wrapped up on the living room sofa. Magical.
“Aguerooo...! I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again. So watch it, drink it in... two goals in added time from Manchester City to snatch the title away from Manchester United.”
Sorry, United fans, but if I live for another 80 years (highly unlikely, says you and my GP), this would be my sporting moment of the century as well.
The fact that famous TV commentary in 2012 was drowned out by the wild celebrations at my family home near Manchester — and that my frail and sick father was there to see it with us — have given it an unforgettable hue. Dad died less then seven months later.
An honourable mention here for the Irish rugby team, who gave us so many incredible highs throughout the decade.
Can you believe Cork failed to win an All-Ireland, in either code, in the Teenies?
But, even to an occasional TV fan like me, the hurling championship of 2013 was a joy to behold.
The Rebels breezed past Clare (of whom more later) in the Munster semi, but were then flattened by Limerick in the final.
They picked themselves up to despatch of old foes Kilkenny then Dublin, and the Bannermen lay in wait in the final.
Cork should have won it, but were denied by an injury time equaliser in the first match. The replay was a classic, as the Rebels clawed back an eight-point deficit, only to run out of steam. Gah!
On a more emotional level, the Roy Keane-arranged testimonial match at the Páirc for Liam Miller in 2018 was an amazing occasion. How on earth did you miss that penalty though, Keano? You were only 12 yards out, like?
Film of the Decade
I used to love going to the cinema, but I can’t remember when I last went to watch a film that I had chosen. That’s one of the drawbacks of being a dad.
But I do love taking the kids along and the past decade has seen some brilliant films for the smallies..
With a nod to Mexican animation Coco, the pick of them all has to be Toy Story 4 released this year.
The finest franchise in cinema history? I think so. And that’s a sign not just of how good the Pixar films are, but how poor the Star Wars have been (and don’t get me started on bloody superhero flicks ... Marvel? It would be a marvel if they could make something original instead of derivative for once)
TV Series of the Decade
I’m usually late to the party on these, so much of what I watched in this decade was made in the previous one. I also never saw Game Of Thrones or Line Of Duty.
Three contenders here I was engrossed in initially — Sherlock, Broadchurch and The Walking Dead — I felt ran out of steam a bit. In a different genre, The Apprentice and Gogglebox are consistently superb.
But I’m going to plump for Breaking Bad, which ended in 2013. Just abut perfect from beginning to end.
TV Programme of the Decade
On the history front, it’s been a decade of centenary commemorations, first remembering World War I and latterly the Irish fight for independence.
There have been some excellent books about the Great War in particular, but the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, made by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was thought-provoking, eye-opening and incredibly emotional.
Those men who we usually see in jerky, stop-and-start grainy black and white sprang remarkably to life and looked and acted just like you and I.
Song of the Decade
Oh my. I would have 100 contenders for song of the ’80s, and 1,000 for song of the ’90s. A song of The Teenies list would be very short!
It’s been a decade where, the omnipresent Ed Sheeran aside, women have largely dominated so I’m going to put forward Someone Like You by Adele for this honour.
It was only released days into the decade, but her mind-boggling vocal skills were never better displayed.
Gig of the Year
Watching Bruce Springsteen must have been class at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in 2013, but I never made it.
However, Elton John live at the Marquee that same year was a joy to behold. Hit after hit after hit, delivered with raucous panache... then again, he was only a wee lad of 66 at the time...