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2012 is nearly over. The great year of British sport, the great year of miserable weather, the great year of royal milestones. All are nearly over. In fact, even the world is nearly over. Ah well, never liked it anyway.

The point is that the end of a year provides me with the opportunity to join in with every other lazy hack the world over and make a list of pointless and totally nonsensical awards for the past 12 months. These were originally going to be called “The TP’s” or something equally catchy and naff. However I succeeded in making them so opinionated and contentious that none of the rest of the editorial team wanted anything to do with them. So battle on alone I shall, the road less travelled by is mine. Without further waffle, here are the unofficial 2012 Trivial Pursuits awards of the year…

  • Sports Personality of the year

There is so much contention over the official SPOTY award, that I wouldn’t like to kick the hornet’s nest and state that Wiggo deserves praise over Andy Murray, or that one gold in seven disciplines is worth less than two golds in a pair of very similar ones. No, instead of plumping for one of the favourites for the actual BBC award, I have decided to go for the underdogs who have impressed me this year.

Firstly, I think it would be impossible to go any further without praising the efforts of Lionel Messi. Sure the Argentine superstar plays for a team where even Michael Ricketts could probably make double figures every season, but (at time of writing) 86 goals… Eighty. Six. Goals… In a year. The feat was absolutely astonishing and it broke Gerd Mueller’s record which had stood for 40 years. Plus he didn’t even do a Gangnam celebration for any of them.

An additional overseen hero of the year was the talisman of Europe’s outrageous Ryder Cup victory, Ian Poulter. Europe were staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat in Medinah until Poults hit five consecutive birdies to claim a crucial point and keep the deficit to a just-in-touch 6-10. Had that match been lost, there would have been no hope and none of the outrageous drama of the following day. Poulter won 4 points out of 4 over the weekend and his overall Ryder Cup record stands at played 15, won 12. If Europe was a country, then the man from Milton Keynes would be a knight of the realm.

The hugely contentious winner though, is both a joint award and awarded to two beasts rather than men. 2012 saw the retirement of arguably two of the finest racehorses that we will ever see in Frankel and Kauto Star. The former was a merciless winning machine, unbeatable over an astonishing three year career. The latter a people’s champion and writer of fairytales, who just refused to bow to the passing of time and the challenge of young upstarts. While Frankel undoubtedly achieved more over the year, indeed Kauto’s 2012 consisted of a valedictory lap at Cheltenham, they will both live long in the memory. So thank you Frankel, merci Kauto, enjoy your retirement, gents.

Frankel and Kauto Star, two wondrous beasts

Frankel and Kauto Star, two wonderous beasts

  • Non-Sports Personality

Maybe it’s just me, in fact definitely it’s just me, but I’m struggling to think of non-sportsmen who really did well over the last year. Labour on I must though… Her Majesty the Queen added another milestone to her wonderful tenure by passing 60 years at the head of this fair isle. She is now only four years off Vicky’s World Record and after the bloody-minded resilience of her mother, who’d bet against her smashing it?

Keeping it in the family, Prince Harry added a bit of light entertainment to silly season by getting his todger out in Las Vegas, while a mere month later we were treated to the sight of the Duchess of Cambridge’s norks. At the time, one suspected that the royals were doing a WI-style nude calendar, although a tasteful picture of Prince Charles sitting in the buff behind a strategically-placed item of fruit failed to materialise, which put paid to that theory.

Elsewhere a special mention is deserved by EL James for exposing the myth that girls have some sort of moral highground when it comes to smut. The 50 Shades trilogy was read by just about every girl in the country, taking over from Harry Potter and proving that dildos really are the new magic wands.

However the “personality” of the year had to go to one man, and a man who could conceivably win this award every year forever. Boris Johnson’s popularity, in his own words, went “zoink” over the summer as he managed to whip the general public into a state of hysteria and “Olympomania”. His speech on the eve of the London games swung rabidly between stand-up comedy and the Nurenberg rally as he piled into the likes of Mitt Romney (more on him later…), the French, the Spanish, the Greeks, the Germans and just about anyone who his insane mind settled on. Wherever he went, he received standing ovations. He even managed to make buffoonishly hanging from a zipline look good. The mayor’s job is his for as long as he wants it. Boris, we salute you.


  • Album of year

I think it’s fair to say that this year hasn’t been a vintage year for music. There has been the odd release that has raised interest, but this is definitely one category where the field has been stronger in the past. Alt-J’s Mercury-winning debut An Awesome Wave deserves special mention, as indeed do other strong first releases from Alabama Shakes and Milagres. Frank Ocean and Swans garnered huge critical acclaim, while Jack White finally went solo and released a solid collection of stompy, bluesy rock.

The outstanding album of the year though was, from where I’m sitting, Ill Manors by Plan B. A phenomenal release of gritty, scene-setting music, the album was essentially the soundtrack to the film of the same name. Regardless of the often harrowing realism of the stories told, Ben Drew’s combination of rap, soul and slick production made it this year’s essential release and confirmed his exceptional natural talent. Full review here.


  • Single of year

Much harder to judge, as it is tricky to define. Do you go for the songs that have been popular, the songs that are critically acclaimed, or just those that you personally enjoyed? On the whole the former can be discounted. Indeed the 2nd best selling song of the year is Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, a song so bad that even the sight of scantily clad cheerleaders singing it can’t shake the fact that it makes me want to slice my ears off and set fire to myself. So I’ll attempt to strike a balance between quality and popularity…

In third place for this award is the all-conquering Gangnam Style by Korean rapper PSY, as beneath the absurd dance and hilarious video lay a genuinely catchy pop song. Runner up was Santigold’s Disparate Youth, a beautifully layered piece of reggae-infused pop that resembled a classier version of Rihanna.

The winner though (and given its position as top-selling single, undisputed song of the year) was Somebody I Used To Know by Gotye. You will probably never hear of Australian/Belgian Gotye again, so we must let him bask in his moment before he goes and joins Chumbawumba, Vanilla Ice and Europe in the great one-hit-wonder graveyard. Gotye, we salute you… And also those who performed this ludicrous cover version.


  • Movie of year

At odds with the predictions I made at the start of the year, many of the bigger releases turned out to be disappointing. Both Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises were disappointing in their own ways, perhaps a result of artificially high hopes based on their predecessors. So what impressed me?

The latest instalment in the Bond franchise, Skyfall, was a hugely entertaining film and deserves mention. Bardem’s villain was both sinister and entertainingly camp in the grand traditions of bond baddies. The film also struck a balance between being modern but also true to Bond’s roots. Yes it was all spangly and internet generationy, but it also had corny one-liners and henchmen being eaten by exotic animals. A feather in the cap of Sam Mendes.

Another film that I enjoyed watching was the prohibition-era drama, Lawless. While I must confess that Tom Hardy is fast approaching the “I’ll watch him in anything” status enjoyed by Messrs Day-Lewis and Di Caprio, the big surprise of the film was in an uncharacteristically mature and un-annoying performance from Shia LeBoef. Hammer’s version of The Woman in Black was also very watchable in a “ghost ride at the fair” sort of way, while Ted offered immature laughs a-plenty especially for fans of Family Guy.

The best film of 2012 though was an idea that sounded absolute profiteering horse-shit on paper. It reeked of executive meeting in which some Hollywood bigwig pondered “here are a handful of franchises that have achieved commercial success in spite of mixed (bad) reviews, why not throw them all together for a quick buck?”… So they did. Only somehow it was absolute genius. Avengers Assemble was that film, flying in the face of half-baked load of rubbish it should have been. It was funny and gripping, it was cool and action-packed. Most of all it was immensely entertaining. This year’s Transformers. Full review here.


  • Joke of the year

The official joke of the Edinburgh festival this year was this by Canadian comedian Stewart Francis: “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”

I’m not really sure who awards these things, but having looked at the top ten for the award, there must be some sort of watershed agreement. Most jokes you’ll hear down your local Comedy Store are funnier than this, the only trouble is that you wouldn’t necessarily tell them around children. Fortunately as Justice Leveson ruled, the internet is an “ethical vacuum”, and unless he means that I’m posting this on a fair-trade Dyson (I-thankyou), then I’ll post as-rude-a-joke as I fucking like. The winner of the Trivial Pursuits joke of the year therefore is:

When will these Jimmy Saville sex allegations end? Police are now saying Jeremy Beadle may have had a small hand in it.

If you know any better ones, please pop them in the comments below…

Ah, Beadle jokes. Will they ever cease to amuse?

Ah, Beadle jokes. Will they ever cease to amuse?

  • Dickhead of the year

The main event. The award that many, myself included, have been looking forward to. And I think we can start by saying that once again it has been a wonderful year for absolute dickheads.

Just 13 days had passed when the year got off to an absolute flyer in this category when Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia, decided to take a 300m long ship carrying 4,000 people off course and closer to the shore so that he could wave to some friends. After the vessel had sunk with the loss of 32 lives, it transpired that immediately upon impact he had tried to abandon ship, thereby adding cowardice to his official charges of “imprudence, negligence and incompetence”. A world-class berk, but not the winner.

Jimmy Saville’s exploits have been well documented after it transpired that he’d touched more minors than a Chilean rescue team, but posthumous awards have never been my thing. Then plenty of people covered themselves in glory as racism in football became front page news. John Terry would normally have done enough to secure his annual nomination, except that this year he brought a few friends along and it is hard not to see Chelsea FC as one collective candidate. Whether it was making racist remarks, a slanderous attempt to ruin a referee’s career or sacking their only relatively likeable staff member since Peter Osgood, you wondered if the FC really stood for “football club” rather than something more profane and appropriate. Also, their actions gave rise to another world-class tit in the form of Peter Herbert of the Society of Black Lawyers. Herbert seized his moment, basked in his fifteen minutes of fame, and seemed determined that some bizarre form of “positive segregation” was the path to racial harmony until Clarke Carlisle, the black head of the PFA (note “black head of the PFA” is not a position in itself, as much as I’m sure Mr Herbert would like it to be), essentially told him to get back in his box. But none of these candidates deserved to oust the winner from his title…

Mitt Romney came worryingly close to winning the US election, which was disturbing given that he’d spent the previous 6 months being a total arsehole to pretty much anyone he came into contact with. Romney’s PR masterclass began in July when he slated London’s preparations for the 2012 Olympics, he then pissed off Palestine (and as such, the arab world) by suggesting that Israelis were culturally superior to them. Back home it didn’t get much better, as he said he liked firing people, told a bunch of struggling out-of-work Floridans that he was unemployed too in a pathetic show of mock-empathy, and in a final act of Marie Antoinettian stupidity called 47% of his own electorate benefits scroungers. It is immensely fortunate that this prat didn’t win the election, the fact that he got so close reflects badly on the US population. But, in the grand traditions of so many game shows, he doesn’t go home empty handed, and Willard Mitt Romney, you are the official Trivial Pursuits Dickhead of the Year.

It's probably for the best if you never, ever open that thing again. Ever.

It’s probably for the best if you never, ever open that thing again. Ever.

So there is the year that was. The papers have been full of Leveson this and Hillsborough that, but enough has happened in this valedictory year for the planet for a good knees up. I’m off to do something enormously reckless and regrettable, so that the end of the world this weekend will come as somewhat of a relief. On the off-chance that a bunch of loincloth-toting Aztecs who worshipped a cross-eyed sun god are wrong though, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I’ll be back here to drag you kicking and screaming into the post-apocalyptic world of 2013.

by Harry Harland