From Fungie to Tiger King — a Covid-free review of 2020

Write a review of the year without mentioning a certain virus. That was the challenge for ROBERT O'SHEA, who takes a funny and whimsical sideways look at 2020
From Fungie to Tiger King — a Covid-free review of 2020

ZERO LUCK: You’d have to feel sorry for the graphic designer who really nailed this 2020 Olympic logo, says Robert O’Shea. The event has been postponed until 2021, so it’s back to the drawing board for the logo designer!

THIS time last year, I was roused from my customary ten-year hibernation to pen a definitive review of the decade.

Little did I think I’d be summoned a mere 12 months later to sum up a year in which both more and less happened than in the previous ten.

There was more news, albeit all of it on the same topic. There was less everything else: foreign holidays, weddings, sports, snogging strangers.

I had one condition if I was to type up a comprehensive account of 2020. There would be no mention of the C word. And I wouldn’t be getting around that by using the P word. Or the V word. There might be some mention of an incident when I had to be cut out of some PVC in April, but the boss said we may have to leave that out if it was too kinky for a morning paper.

Working from home is pretty great in that sense because you can wear what you want. If the fancy takes me I can walk around the house completely naked, like a character in a Sally Rooney TV adaptation. Well, I could until the guards came to tell me to go back inside.

So, here’s what happened in no particular order in 2020.

Thirty lead tablets, engraved with curses, that invoke the gods of the underworld to cause harm to others, are discovered at the bottom of a 2,500-year-old well in Athens in February. Surely unearthing them won’t have any unforeseen circumstances for the world...

We had an election. Remember that? It was not back in the mists of time, but earlier this very year. The star-crossed Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil finally decide to get it on and lead the nation in rotation. The Greens agree to tag along.

Green leader Eamon Ryan’s most memorable moment is falling asleep during a Dail session, but who, hand on heart, can say they haven’t at some time this year dozed off, now comfortable furniture has been thrown into the mix for most of us during work hours.

It seems a shame Ryan hasn’t yet got the opportunity to reintroduce wolves to the Irish landscape (a coalition discussion with the then Labour leader on this issue could have been the Howlin wolf talks); if he had, it would be much easier to convince people to stay indoors.

Commemorations for the War of Independence continue throughout the year but Minister Charlie Flanagan’s proposal to include the RIC and other British combatants gets shelved, presumably after somebody remembers the RIC murdered a Lord Mayor of Cork in front of his family.

Ireland has four Ministers for Agriculture the year. Barry Cowen gets the most flak after it is revealed he was caught drink-driving on the way home from the All-Ireland football final in 2016. This delightfully becomes known as Cowengate.

Phil Hogan tours the country in his car, although reports his boot is full of toilet roll and that he’s got the Shelbourne Hotel statues in the back seat are unfounded.

The Government celebrates as it is announced Apple won’t have to pay €13bn in back taxes.

Brexit finally occurs. Sort of. Britannia waives the rules as it backs out of the Withdrawal Agreement. While Europe has 1 GB of free space after the UK leaves the EU at the end of January, negotiations continue on the divorce settlement and deadlines come and go, ebbing and flowing all year as the level-playing field is encroached by choppy waters, full of fish who have no idea they are part of a custody dispute and on which gunboats will soon bob up and down.

Speaking of choppy waters, a ghost ship rocked into Ballycotton at some stage. Has anybody checked if it is still there?

Also emerging from the cascading surf is Richard ‘Putin’ Bruton, who takes a leaf out of the Russian leader’s book by standing there, toned and topless.

Meanwhile, the top shelf becomes more topless-less as the magazine Playboy does what it’s centre pages have been doing for nearly seven decades and folds.

In an unprecedented move, on the second Sunday in March, the Government announces the clocks will go sideways.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is rumoured to have died, or to be severely under the weather, yet no newspaper runs with the headline ‘Kim Jong ill’.

A monolith appears in the Utah desert, followed by others worldwide. RTÉ broadcasters start to appear in sheds. Matt Damon starts appearing all over South Dublin.

On April 2, Ireland’s favourite artist Don Conroy reveals to the world he appeared in the epic war movie The Big Red One alongside Mark Hamill and that he was knifed to death in it by Lee Marvin. It turns out not to be a late April Fool’s joke too. And there we were thinking he was just bloody brilliant at drawing owls.

A rat in Tanzania achieves global fame and is awarded a tiny gold medal after discovering 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions during his career sniffing out explosives. Get to work pangolin PR people.

Meanwhile, giant whales are the stars of a spectacular smartphone video recorded off the coast of West Cork, and a 393-year old shark is discovered swimming off Greenland... and another marine creature disappears into the deep. Fungie is presumed dead when he vanishes from Dingle Bay after making it his home for nearly for 37 years. Locals suggest he was never the same after the Dubs did five in a row.

Fungie the Dingle dolphin. Picture: Graham Murphy
Fungie the Dingle dolphin. Picture: Graham Murphy

A woman and girl survive a night in the Atlantic after drifting off on paddlebaords. A nation in distress is buoyed by their epic rescue.

Wild Mountain Thyme, a film that features a few dodgy accents, including one by someone who is already Irish, gets quite a bit of stick (or schtick) from some quarters before it is even released, although people should probably wait until they’ve seen it to be sure to be sure.

The sod is put back in place on the site of the Cork Events Centre.

In a year when cancel culture takes a few leaps forward, the Leaving Cert gets the heave-ho, 22 years too late for some of us. Richard Boyd Barrett says there are serious questions to ask about whether the Education minister Norma Foley is capable of doing her job after some ‘results’ are cocked up. But in fairness, the questions might not suit her on the day.

We say goodbye to Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Diego Maradona and Jack Charlton. And RTÉ greats Marian Finucane and Larry Gogan.

The latter’s ‘Just a Minute Quiz’ threw up some outstanding answers down the years, a favourite must be to ‘Something a blind man might use?’ ‘A sword’.

Stephen Kenny’s use of a Rebel-themed motivational video for a clash of Ireland and England is investigated by the FAI, who were less interested in a former CEO who liked to croon patriotic numbers in pubs.

Hand-washing becomes to 2020 what ‘the floss’ was to 2017. Everyone is doing it, even if most of us can’t do it properly. From the humble palm to the enormously useful fingers, suds make a huge comeback.

Masks are the must-have fashion item of the year. Worn from the ear, they are the sexy accessory everyone is wearing and things can get very steamy if you match them with glasses. But if you injure yourself by walking into something after your spectacles fog up, you probably won’t be due compensation for dew/condensation.

It is revealed in a film released in July that world-renowned mime artist Marcel Marceau saved Jewish children during the Holocaust. He never said anything about it to anyone when he was alive.

A new Batman film (and mercifully not another Spiderman film) starring Robert Pattinson as the caped crusader will be ‘raw’ and ‘not sanitised,’ according to fellow cast member Peter Sarsgaard, in an unwise choice of words about a bat this year.

Jon Bon Jovi tells an interviewer he “never had Orangemen walking through my neighbourhood saying, you know, get the Catholic kid and beat him up” like Bono did when growing up in Dublin as a Church of Ireland member.

The computer scientist responsible for the computer functions cut, copy, and paste, Larry Tessler. passes away. RIP Ctrl + X.

Tiger King was a roaring success on Netflix
Tiger King was a roaring success on Netflix

Americans are shocked and enthralled by Netflix smash Tiger King, giving them some idea how the rest of the world feel while watching America.

People who never got to grips with Zeno’s paradox begin to understand it a little better as the US election drags on interminably. Ballina’s Joe Biden is eventually declared the winner, but the sitting president disagrees with all the votes that didn’t go his way. It remains to be seen if Donald Trump’s presidential library will use the Dewey Decimal System or even shelve books alphabetically.

Scientists notice a supermassive black hole a mere 100 million light-years away inexplicably turned itself off and on again. So if there is a supreme being in the universe he might have a background in IT.

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