Keith Newbery: So we managed to survive Armageddon

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IF YOU are reading this column, you will have reached three inescapable conclusions.

The world is not a smoking ruin, humankind is still around to do its worst – and the Mayan reputation for soothsaying now lies in tatters.

Well, two out of three’s not bad.

Far be it from me to sound like a Mayan apologist (they could be cruel devils, after all) but, contrary to popular belief, they didn’t actually predict the destruction of this planet and everything on it four days before Christmas.

A particular phase in their ancient calendar simply came to an end, and a new one was supposed to start.

But this was the perfect excuse for dingbats to use the internet to inflict their fevered ramblings on the gullible and weak-minded.

However, if, as was once suggested, Vera Lynn’s agent actually started World War II, it’s entirely possible the owners of canning factories were the first to propagate the Mayan disaster myth.

After all, there are idiots all over the world stocking up their cellars and hidey-holes with enough tinned food to last them for years, in the belief that a future filled with a diet of processed peas and mandarin segments is preferable to instant annihilation.

Others actually placed bets on life as we know it coming to an end on the 21st, without being specific about how they intended to claim their winnings or where they contemplated spending them.

It all reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a colleague who happened to be a caricature of an archetypal Yorkshiremen.

His opinions on all things were so uncompromisingly intransigent, that he made Geoff Boycott sound like a conciliatory wimp at a family mediation centre.

The subject under discussion was the possibility of Armageddon, and he brought the conversation to a standstill by declaring: “I have no intention of surviving a nuclear 
war.”

He genuinely believed he had a choice in the matter.

It was as though he had a hotline to the Kremlin, on which he could issue the instruction: “When the time comes, make sure you drop one on Barnsley.”

But we all knew what he meant.

Being instantly atomised still remains a more attractive option than a life spent scratching around in irradiated ruins.

Is topping the charts really an honour?

OKAY pop-pickers, here’s a little quiz which involves a trip down Memory Lane. All you have to do is tell me what the following records have in common:

Long Haired Lover from Liverpool (Little Jimmy Osmond), Two Little Boys (Rolf Harris), Save Your Love (Renee and Renato), Can We Fix It? (Bob the Builder), Mr Blobby (Mr Blobby), There’s No One Quite Like Grandma (St Winifred’s School Choir) and That’s My Goal (Shayne Ward). That’s right, these magnificent anthems all held the number one chart spot over Christmas.

Given the company they are going to keep, I remain puzzled why so many artists continue to regard this position of festive pre-eminence as such a special honour.