The Year That Could Be

Flipping through this publication in that slightly amused manner peculiar to reading in-flight magazines, you may be further surprised to find a new name attached to this column. You may tell yourself, who the hell is this guy – I liked the other one, and I’d agree. Being a second-choice humour columnist is ideal for neither of us. And even though I need not justify my rude entry into your aeronautical reveries, I feel like I should preface this column with an acknowledgement of what a precarious position I’ve been put in: who is forced to start a humour column in March? Why not the beginning of the year? Who would design the world in such a way? So, in a show of solidarity (to myself, mostly), I will write this column as if it were the beginning of a new year. 

Now that the introductions have been made – shoddily but fairly, I’d argue – let’s get down to business: the year. The year that was, the year ahead, and the abstract abacus of years that somehow defines ‘age.’ I’m heading towards that period of the late twenties that can seamlessly translate into my early forties if I’m not careful. It is a daily struggle to stave off the voice of the dull accountant in my head, the one who promises that all my problems – financial, romantic, spiritual, etc. – will dissipate if I just take the time to plan my life like it is a business. Looking back at the past year with that typically austere eye, seeing where costs and inefficiencies can be cut and identifying opportunities for growth for the following year. But I’m naturally sceptical of these all-in-one solutions, no less for the accountant than for the witch doctor, who promises the same thing. 

So, how should we damn the accountants and witch doctors, look back at the past year and towards the new year, and finally stop counting our age? In a shameless act of self-marketing, I believe it should be done with humour. This column may contribute to that, or it may not. Indeed, other areas of life may be equally entertaining. Consider the following totally hypothetical situations of the year that could be:

– A global pandemic breaks out under dubious circumstances that could involve a flying mammal and its consumption, or alternatively biological warfare (your pick). Whilst working from home in your boxers and business shirt and potentially experiencing the end of the world is initially thrilling, you soon realise that the humdrum of daily life continues unabated, only this time through a screen. You can’t travel without being equated to the virus itself, and you soon realise that you have to upgrade your Wi-Fi because it isn’t fast enough. 

– A war in a distant land occurs between a nuclear superpower and its neighbour. Somewhat confused by the sheer stupidity of this venture, you quickly remember that other nuclear superpowers have been equally stupid in the past. It begins to dawn on you that stupidity is the most universal of human traits. The only real change to your life is the high price of fuel, following some abstract logic of supply and demand, and perhaps a re-evaluation of your neighbours: how stupid could they be?

– An unlikeable, eccentric billionaire buys a large social media company. Promising the implementation of ‘free speech’ under dubious cost-cutting exercises, such as firing most of his workforce, a beautiful thing happens: thousands of ‘verified’ fake accounts start to emerge, impersonating the said unlikeable, eccentric billionaire. It soon becomes genuinely difficult to differentiate between the fake and the real, because, well, the billionaire sounded like an adolescent troll in the first place. 

Of course, all the above seems highly unlikely; however, as always, the humourist must remain vigilant, never forgetting the full bouquet of human suffering, and stupidity, that could occur at any point. If you’d like to add more to the list, please feel free to graffiti in the margins: cross out the hypothetical situations you find most unlikely, desecrate my name, even call out to the hostess and ask, once again, who the hell is this guy? 

About Author /

Sebastian can usually be found eating strawberries and cream at your nearest tennis club.

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