TTYF! SICK(ISH) REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1998
Written mostly by Kevin Warne (KNW) with some less funny bits from John Harrington (JH)
The main lesson from history, someone once said, is those who win get to write it. Maybe, but when it gets written seems pretty important too.
I started this review in early December as part of the annual attempt to finish the usual festive pre-activities early. At that time, like the other reviews compiled then, 1998 was to be the nearly year. We nearly had a Gulf conflict in November, we nearly saw Clinton impeached in the summer, England nearly won a test match of importance and we nearly had resignations from the Cabinet.
Three weeks later, between Christmas and New Year, I tried again. By then the skies of Baghdad had been lit up like the 4th of July, Clinton was heading towards impeachment ("head" being the operative word), England had won a Test Match and Cabinet Ministers were dropping like flies (unlike in America, where they were dropping their flies).
My final draft, due to technical difficulties has been delayed until mid-January 1999 by which time who cares what happened last year? The impeachment of Clinton drags on, the Cabinet resignations of Davies, Mandelson and Robinson have been eclipsed by the far more pressing political problem of getting help to the 966 people who said in a Sun poll they would sleep with Robin Cook, and England, having lost the Ashes, are playing out the tour in the pyjama games.
Not a classic year
1998 was not one of the classic years but as I shall suggest later followed the pattern of setting the tone for the following year. We prepared for the Euro and the Millennium Dome stayed on course as the biggest celebration turkey of the century. The Egyptians built the pyramids to last thousands of years, the Druids built Stonehenge to survive as long, the Brits, who less than a hundred years ago controlled the greatest ever empire, opt for an oversized tent with a life expectancy of less than twenty five years sited in the only part of London still devoid of reasonable transport links. Still Wembley Stadium was meant to be a temporary structure and they are only just getting round to demolishing it 75 years later. Someone suggested that the destruction of the twin towers could be achieved more cheaply by the simple expedient of reviving the annual England versus Scotland match, but surely even Englands maniac supporters wouldnt trash their own home?
The main theme of the year appeared to be of chickens coming home to roost for past misdemeanours. In the States Republican politicians attempted to nail Bill Clinton on the two most serious charges they could imagine: preventing a Republican from being in the White House and, even worse, being a pretty good Democrat president.
Bill, Monica and George Michael redefined sex. George Michael was apparently having sex with himself in a public place but Bill wasnt having sexual relations with Monica. Im pretty pissed off with Bill on this count, Id always thought my track record on sex in the front of the car had been pretty respectable until he suggested otherwise, the bastard. Will Gillian Taylforth appeal?
George Michael, meanwhile, taught the spin doctors a thing or two by appearing on Parkinson after the infamous toilet incident and emerging from the interview as some kind of national hero. Little wonder that having shown such composure he has sacked his agent and pronounced that in future he will be handling himself .
Over here icons fell like spring rain. Geoffrey Boycott found hitting the mistress for six didnt go down quite as well as some of his other great knocks. Will Carling raised bad timing to a new level by walking out on the mother of his child just before his final payday tour. Gary Glitter introduced the potential of the Internet to the older generation of child perverts.
There were some events of note, the Embassy bombings in Nairobi produced some of the most gruesome scenes of carnage seen in a long time matched in awfulness only by Englands performance in the World Cup. Glenn Hoddles attitude and performance made some ask if he and Graham Taylor had ever been seen together in the same place. Fortunately his involvement in the fiasco which saw us fall at the same hurdle as Nigeria and Paraguay was eclipsed by Mr. Smug, David Beckham. Never mind he kept us in jokes for weeks.
Smugham featured in one of the more interesting adverts of the year a poster from Adidas on the day of the England v Argentina match. "The outcome of tonights match could be decided by just one kick". How prescient of them.
The best advert though was surely the Sweeney spoof.
"Stop shouting guv,"
"You left the door open guv."
OK, now own up, who cant remember what product the ad was promoting?
It wasnt all doom and gloom, after enduring both for nearly half a century we definitely wont suffer another Frank Sinatra farewell tour and, with any luck, Julie Andrews wont sing again either. Titanic against all expectations went down a storm.
It was a goodish year for stiffs. After Di the previous year a goodly number of middle ranking notables faded from the scene in this one.
Apart from Frank Sinatra, Tammy Wynette got to stand by the man, Linda McCartney got her wings, Carl Wilson (Beach Boys) traded in the lurid shirt (leaving drug crazed loonie Brian Wilson as the unlikely winner of the Wilson family Death Sweepstake Dennis Wilson having drowned years ago), Cozy Powell became another victim of a hard rock and roll lifestyle (dying in the same year as his dad, Enoch) and Judge Dread penned his last smutty song (probably years ago).
Grade B musos to go the remainders bin included Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics), who committed suicide; Robert Pilatus of Milli Vanilli (not sure what hes doing here under muso); Rozz Williams of Christian Death (committed suicide who says Americans dont understand irony?); Falco (Rock Me Amadeus fame car crash); Carl Perkins, wrote and recorded "Blue Suede Shoes", died of a stroke;
Films and TV saw the apes lose Maureen
OSullivan (Tarzan) and Roddy Macdowall (Planet of
the Apes) and the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene
Autry (who composed "Rudolf the Red Nosed
Reindeer" not a lot of people know that).
Real trivia nerds might like to note that Robert
"Tex" Allen also died in 1998. He used to be
Columbias top cowboy star but when Gene Autry, the
singing cowboy, became popular old Tex was dumped because
he could not sing or play guitar; he was replaced by Roy
Eva Bartok (The Crimson Pirate, Operation Amsterdam and general all-round crackpot) gave the obit columns a chance to dredge out some old glamour photos, as did the death of John Derek (husband of Bo), Lloyd Bridges, star of countless films noir not forgetting the Airplane movies picked the wrong year to give up living. He was blacklisted from Hollywood in the forties for being more left wing than Attila the Hun but resurrected his career to the extent that he almost appeared in more films than his two sons, Jeff and Beau, put together.
The sleuths lost Jack Lord, Steve Garrett in Hawaii-Five-O, dying at 77 making him mid to late forties when he did his series and Joan Hickson, Miss Marple, at 92 making her late eighties when she did hers. Johnny Speight left us Alf, Dermott Morgan left us Father Ted, John Wells left us Denis Thatcher, Frank Muir left us without a bow tie representative, Shari Lewis left us Lamb Chop and a polystyrene wig, Robert Young (Marcus Welby) left us sorry for TV re-runs and Sonny Bono left us Cher, the bastard.
Anyone remember Rowan & Martins Laugh-In? Flip Wilson, who occasionally appeared on it, snuffed it and so, curiously, did fellow American comedian, Henny Youngman, who not only appeared on the show but who featured as a catch-phrase which mainly consisted of quizzical guests saying straight to camera: "Oh, that Henny Youngman?" London born Henny it was who first said, "take my wife please!" He also said that in his will hed be leaving his body to Julia Roberts but if she couldnt wait, she could have it now.
Sir Lew Grade, reigning charleston world champion, showed poor timing, dying at Christmas when he should have died on the eve of the release of Titanic. After all, this was the man whose film empire was sunk by the abysmal Raise The Titanic a film which prompted the comment that it would have been cheaper to have lowered the Atlantic.
Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa died of a stroke. Truly a colossus of the film industry. He received a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1990 so he did well to survive a good 7 years beyond the date Hollywood had anticipated he would die.
Simpsons fans were upset to hear of the death of Phil Hartman, the voice of Troy McClure and many other bit-part characters. He was shot by his wife, who later killed their children before committing suicide. Whats that all about? Why kill the children? Could drugs have been involved or just good old fashioned insanity?
Mae Questel, the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, squealed her last.
Moving from cartoons to comics, Bob Kane, creator of the Batman, went to that great bat-signal in the sky.
In business and politics the mavericks Enoch Powell, Nicholas Budgen, Pol Pot, Tiny Rowland and Sir Ian McGregor (former coal chief) departed along with the mainstream members like Lord Sainsbury, Lord Rothermere (Daily Mail), Dick McDonald (crimes against clowns and beef) and Ferdinand Porsche the world famous tank designer. The European newspaper did not last long enough to see the introduction of the euro
So, there we have it 1998, not one of the great years of the century but I have a theory that the "eight" years are the scene setters for the more memorable nines. With some duff doubles like 1908/09 apart and 1918/19 being the exception when Germany ended its first attempt at world domination the eights have laid the groundwork for the nines.
In 1928 we had the economic decline which lead to the crash of 29, in 38 Chamberlain went to Munich for Hitler to start the second German attempt a year later. 68 saw the Apollo missions which put man on the moon in 69, 78 saw the winter of discontent allowing Mrs. Thatcher to win in 79, 88 saw the collapse of eastern Europe which allowed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 89. 98 saw the preparation for the introduction of the Euro at the beginning of 99 allowing the Germans to get a third crack at world domination in under the wire before the end of the century. Will the Russians halt them outside Moscow again or simply complete the ring road linking with the autobahn to Berlin. I wonder?
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