It's been a bad year for the light hearted. What with the Antarctic disappearing, the economy exploding, house prices falling faster than an astronaut's toolbox and the price of oil reaching twenty-trillion dollars a barrel, there's been little to laugh at. Look on the bright side: the world could have been sucked into a black hole in October.
2008 was the year of the potato.
The year started as 2007 had ended, with television phone-in voting scandals grabbing the headlines, and Cookie the cat from Blue Peter was at the centre of the latest one, apparently, she should have been called Socks, on account of most people voted for that. Although the votes went for Socks, the BBC was well within its rights to say it was a stupid name, and choose Cookie. Ofcom saw it differently and fined the BBC £50,000, which was rather stupid on account of the BBC being funded by the very licence payers who complained. In addition, it being a cat, it didn't bother answering to either name anyway. This didn't stop the rigging of the ring-ins, as John Sergeant defied his critics later in the year by staying on Strictly Come Dancing despite being as elegant as a fish slowly dying on the bank of a river. He resigned from the show, and became a household name overnight. Hopefully, in 2009, other celebrities like Danni Minogue and Timmy Mallett will attempt the same trick, and just disappear.
In February Northern Rock became Northern Rocky and allowed the British people to do what they do well, moan and queue. They got to do both at the same time when they queued to get their money out whilst moaning at anybody who would listen. Northern Rock was just the start of the global recession, quickly followed by the phrase "Sub-prime" entering the public consciousness for the first time as America's bad debts spread rapidly around the world, culminating the in the declaration of the whole of Iceland becoming bankrupt. This was the first bankruptcy of a country, overshadowed by rampant inflation in Zimbabwe where it now costs a million Zimbabwe dollars to buy a coffee, though Starbucks claim that they haven't even got a branch in Africa. On a lighter note, Britney Spears shaved off her hair to prove she wasn't a mental case.
March saw Shannon Matthews returned to her mother by the police, then immediately removed by Social Services, whilst the police took the mother away, and the Sun newspaper cancelled their cheque to Karen Matthews for her story. Internationally, another child story emerged as Josef Fritzel was arrested for keeping his daughter in his basement for over twenty years without his wife ever suspecting a thing. Fritzel claims he was protecting her from all the weirdoes in the world. The world's largest iceberg left Antarctica when the Wilkins Ice Shelf dropped off shortly after the most distant star ever seen exploded, apparently there was no connection. Heather Mills finally divorced Paul McCartney, with a huge divorce settlement after rejecting the first one as leaving her without a leg to stand on.
Nothing happened in April, except for Charlton Heston dying. This made for a slow news month in which the BBC had time to computer generate images of flying penguins.
In May rocket man Yves Rossy became the barmiest man in history when he flew across the Channel in a homemade jet pack. He was arrested as an illegal immigrant upon landing in Dover. Manchester United hoisted the Premier League title at the expense of Chelsea. Chelsea's Russian owner, Roman Abromivic denies claims that this led to the hike in gas prices from Russia. Whilst China prepared for the Olympics, there were massive quakes in the Northwest that threatened the several dozen dams China had thought were a good idea building in an earthquake prone zone. Boris Johnson became Mayor of London on the strength of people liking him on "Have I Got News For You". His first question was asking if he needed cat.
In June, Mugabe blamed the West for his countries monetary woes, and held an election in which anybody who voted against him was shot. He won by a landslide - that took out the village where his opponent lived. Europe voted no in the Lisbon Treaty referendum, little knowing it would be less than six months before they'd be asked to do it again... Bill Gates finally stepped down as Microsoft chairman; he would have stepped down in April, but he was waiting for Vista to boot up so he could write his resignation letter. Max Moseley shocked nobody when it was revealed he had sex with prostitutes whilst speaking German. After threatening to withdraw all his money, the F1 committee voted unanimously to keep him on.
The G8 met up in Japan in July. After flying a cumulative thirty thousand miles, the major topic of discussion was how to curb emissions. They planted a tree. To help cut emissions, China switched off everything in Beijing, though this was mainly to allow the athletes in the Olympics to be able to breathe. Obama visited Germany in an effort to find his birth certificate. Fortunately, he didn't fly Qantas, as the Australian company discovered a big hole in one of their planes. The cause was unknown, but guessed at being one of the cabin staff having a crafty smoke next to an oxygen tank.
The Olympics came and went in August in spectacular fashion as Beijing quietly ensured a smooth operation by arresting anybody they didn't like. Usain Bolt shattered the 100 metres record despite sitting down and ordering an espresso a few centimetres from the finish line, whilst the UK shocked the world and the British especially when they came fourth in the medal table, despite there not being any events in which queuing and moaning were required. Instead cycling, swimming and boating brought home the medals. America came top after winning the gold in all the team sports requiring more than twenty people; a targeted method of winning more gold than any other country. Michael Phelps was the exception, winning as many gold medals as the American Baseball team all by himself by swimming faster than a skip jack tuna. Using the Olympics as cover, Russia invaded Georgia, upsetting the Americans. They got their own back by winning more gold medals. In what became known as a 'bad move' Sarah Palin became John McCain's running mate in the US elections.
In August, billions of Stirling were poured into the British economy when a Middle Eastern consortium bought Manchester City, sending them to almost certain relegation. More billions were made available in America to pay for the bankers' mistakes, whilst in Britain, Lloyds TSB took over HBOS, turning them into the longest Acronym in history.
SpaceX Falcon became the first privately owned space ship to reach orbit in September. Virgin Galactic immediately started taking bookings. The World's Rich said: "Have you seen the state of the economy?"
In October the world would have ended, but for a small solder joint in the Hadron Collider. Said joint failed as the warm up tests started. Some physicists are claiming this is evidence that the Universe does not allow time machines. The world breathed a sigh of relief until it was announced that the collider will start up again in 2009, the year that the Mayan calendar comes to an end! Ringo Starr wishes that a black hole had opened up underneath him after he made an arse of himself on his web site. Manchester, England, announces the world's largest congestion zone, and blackmails people with public transport improvements. More blackmail, this time from Somalians who hijacked an oil tanker and held BP and Shell to ransom. The ship was later found burnt out in a field in Salford.
In November, Lewis Hamilton cheated his way to the Formula One title by accruing more points than any other driver. This angered the chiefs of the Formula One, who thought Felipe Massa should have won it by winning more races. John Sergeant would definitely not be winning anything after he voted himself off Strictly Come Dancing, despite being loved by a British public that loves a loser. This was almost immediately denied when loads of people complained about Russell Brand annoying a British Institution (Sachs), proving that it's only one kind of loser they love. Americans love a winner, and voted for Barack Obama, despite not knowing where or when he was born. If indeed he was. Woolworths (in the UK) announced that they would be closing all their stores, they blame thefts from the Pick'n'Mix.
In the final month of the year, Woolworths announced that they are selling everything, including the shelves. This is one place that won't be stocking Google's new mobile phone released this month. It's immediately slated by some, and loved by others. It turns out that it is easier to send an email on it, than make a phone call. The phone wasn't much use when internet connections to the Far East from Europe were disrupted, accidentally stopping the trade in Thai brides. Manchester finally got to vote on the Congestion Charge and voted no with one voice. So ner. The ruins of an ancient Peruvian city were discovered (in Peru, strangely enough), graffiti on one wall was translated as "Can the last one out of Chiququotalonia please turn out the lights."
One thing that can be said about the international year of the potato is that it was 365 days long.