Robert Hampton

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4th January 2013

Ring In the New Year, Wring Out the Old

Hampo in front of the Berlin WallA little later than planned, here is a look back at the preceding 12 months, as seen through my jaded eyes. As January began, I wrote a blog post looking forward to the treats that 2012 held in store. How did the year pan out? Let’s have a look…

The year started on a downbeat note for my family as we mourned my dad’s sister Betty, who had been a part of all our lives for as long as I could remember.

The government announced that High Speed Two, a new TGV-style railway line, would be built to link London with the Midlands. Middle England quickly took up against the plan, as Tory MPs lined up to denounce the line that was due to slice through their constituencies. David Cameron had succeeded in alienating his Conservative base, and it would not be only time that happened this year.

Web sites participated (or didn’t) in a protest against SOPA, a draconian anti-copyright law in the US. Elsewhere on the Internet, Twitter caused a minor kerfuffle by announcing that it would censor Tweets on a country-by-country basis.

Photo of "closed"Liverpool looked set to get an elected Mayor, although some of the candidates were of less than stellar quality. Nationally, the British Government continued its pattern to attack the poor and downtrodden.

The Church launched the first of many attacks on gay marriage, a pattern which would continue (using the same tired, discredited arguments and tactics) throughout 2012.

February brought exciting news, as Star Trek: The Next Generation reached Blu-ray. The remastered HD episodes looked wonderful, although no amount of remastering could quite fix the dodgy season 1 scripts.

The Daily Mail frothed at the mouth over perceived slights to Christianity, while I got upset about Christianity’s slights to gay people.

Photo of First Great Western Night Riviera Sleeper coachThe Raspberry Pi gave me an excuse to wax lyrical about 80s computers.

March saw the Daily Mail simultaneously celebrate marriage, while the campaign against extending marriage to same-sex couples was taken up to a new level. I had the odd experience of seeing a Tweet of mine get retweeted all over the place.

At the end of the month, I visited Cornwall, where I travelled on some of the county’s lovely branch lines, visited Land’s End and, best of all, got a ride on the Penzance to London sleeper train.

April saw people get into trouble for speaking unwisely. Ben Bradshaw MP criticised plans for same-sex marriage, wrongly claiming to speak for the whole gay community. Alan Davies made some ill-judged comments about the Hillsborough tragedy – perhaps his “idiot” persona on QI isn’t an act after all.

The gay marriage debate shifted to an unlikely location – the sides of London buses – as TfL prevented an anti-gay ad campaign from appearing on its vehicles.

Little Girl Giant in Paradise StreetLiverpool staged a spectacular setpiece event – the Sea Odyssey Giant Spectacular – which saw massive crowds in the city centre and suburbs to watch an amazing three-day performance. It cost a couple of million quid to stage, but it was worth every penny.

The event coincided with the last weekend of operation of Liverpool Central station, which closed for a six month facelift. We were promised more space and a better environment. Did the project deliver on that? Hmmm….

The Liverpool Mayoral Election was in my sights again, as I reviewed the runners and riders.

Obama on a UnicornMay saw the aforementioned election actually happen, and while I lamented the sometimes turbulent Liverpool political scene, I could take some comfort from the fact that we would almost certainly get someone better than Boris. In case you missed it, Labour won.

A sad viral video did the rounds on the internet, about Shane Bitney, whose life was destroyed by the death of his partner and the subsequent problems he had because their relationship wasn’t recognised by the US legal system.

In the wake of that video, it was welcome news to see President Obama make history by endorsing marriage equality – a move which many political commentators thought was a big political gamble.

The Daily Mail (yes, them again) wanted to censor everyone’s internet by campaigning for a pornography filter. Not a voluntary system, mind, but a full-blown block on any site with the slightest hint of boobies or willies. They refused to back down even after countless experts agreed that such a ban was unworkable. No word on what would happen to MailOnline’s Sidebar of Shame under this system.

Berlin ReichstagThe Glasgow Subway, meanwhile, was blocking pictures of a different kind as transport bosses considered banning photography entirely, a ban which was thankfully reversed after a campaign.

June was the month of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but I decided to celebrate by visiting her home country of Germany, where I spent the weekend in Berlin. For three days I immersed myself in history (the Nazis, the Wall and East Germany), tourist traps, abandoned airports, trainspotting and a whole lot more besides. There was also, of course, a lot of hanging around in gay bars. It was an amazing trip.

That was the first half of my 2012. Part two will follow shortly.

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One Response
  1. Pingback by Plenty-Twelve « Robert Hampton
    5th January 2013 at 7:48 pm

    […] Continuing on from yesterday’s review of the year-type thing. […]