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A grim year rescued by Paddington Bear

It is customary at this time of the year to take a not-too-serious look back at the events of the past 12 months. It is not that easy because it's been a pretty miserable year highlighted by the madness of the war in Ukraine.

Frankly we are at the end of another annus horribilis as the late Queen Elizabeth would have put it.

Indeed, it was a year dominated by the death of the Grand Old Lady in September. She had been such a fixture in British lives for so long it had felt like she would go on forever.

Only three months earlier we had been celebrating her Platinum Jubilee. In retrospect the delightful “tea at the palace” sketch where she had tea and marmalade sandwiches with Paddington Bear was the most uplifting moment of the year. What a great sport she was, taking part at the age of 96.

There is a lovely moment at the end when Paddington says, “Happy Jubilee ma’am. Thank you… for everything.” To which the beaming Queen replies: “That’s very kind.”

Not surprisingly the bear became a symbol of tributes to the Queen and 1,000 Paddington soft toys left by mourners were later sent to needy kids.

Here are some of the more obscure events that might have escaped your eye in 2022:

The Ghost Ship: The year began promisingly with a mystery “ghost ship” drifting creepily in the Gulf of Thailand with no crew, cargo or documents. It then proceeded to sink off Nakhon Sri Thammarat. Alas this was no Mary Celeste but a rust-bucket freighter of Chinese origin apparently deliberately scuttled. Superstitious Thai fish gave the ghostly wreck a wide berth.

Thailand’s Flying Comma: Britain’s Apostrophe Protection Society disbands, blaming “the ignorance and laziness in modern times”. However, there is a ray of hope for the “flying comma” in Thailand of all places with the Lotus supermarket chain renaming itself “Lotus’s”. Of course, everyone still calls it Lotus.

High Society: Smoking marijuana, or ganja as it is known in Thailand, suddenly becomes okay. It was quite a U-turn for the authorities. Not long ago the merest whiff of weed would result in people being hauled off to the slammer.

Milli’s mangoes: Thai rapper Milli prompting a significant increase in the sales of mangoes and sticky rice after featuring the dish in her performance at Coachella music festival.

The US Embassy was so impressed they posted on Facebook a photo of the Mount Rushmore presidents drooling over plates of khao nieo mamuang. Milli was named as one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the Year.

Most Overused Expression: “It is what it is.” A fancy new way of saying that a situation cannot be changed. Politicians love it as it sounds less evasive than the traditional “no comment”.

Against all odds: A senior Thai policeman reassures citizens there are no gambling dens operating in Bangkok. Well, that’s okay then.

Cover up: Despite an announcement in May that wearing face masks was no longer obligatory in Thailand six months later just about everyone is still wearing them. Well, not quite everyone. Tourists appear to be happily mask-free.

Man of the Year: A security guard at Villa Supermarket (Paradise Park) handing me a 1,000 baht note which I was totally unaware I had dropped on the floor at checkout. He wouldn’t accept any monetary gift of thanks. It is little things like that which give you hope.

Hot and bothered: For the first time ever in Britain temperatures exceeded 40C. Normally the Brits celebrate anything over 25C, but this wiped everyone out, prompting the Daily Mail headline “The Great British Meltdown”.

Mobile Mushrooms: Mushrooms were discovered growing on a seat of an active Bangkok bus. They were removed following complaints by passengers unimpressed at sharing a seat with rapidly growing fungi. Officials denied reports the mushrooms ended up in the conductor’s cooking pot.

Moggy of the Year: Larry the Cat, chief mouser of 10 Downing St, acting above and beyond the call of duty as he experienced three different bosses in as many months. When newly appointed PM Liz Truss attempted to stroke Larry the cat, he displayed considerable displeasure and from that time on the writing was on the wall for Ms Truss.

Triumphant vegetable: The Daily Star holding a competition to see if an iceberg lettuce would have a longer shelf life than then-prime minister Truss. The lettuce won.

Sign of the Year: The Sukhumvit shop sign illustrated with enticing buns, donuts and pastries that advertised itself splendidly as “My Barkery”. For the curious they didn’t have a sideline in dog biscuits.

Runner-up Sign: In a wooded Chiang Mai park: “Warning: Limbs May Fall.”

Crime of the Century: Crutch foolishly suggesting in PostScript that the Great British Chip was somehow related to “French fries”. This prompted a barrage of criticism with one irate British reader calling it “shockingly unpatriotic.” Or maybe he just had a chip on his shoulder.

Words of the Year: Dictionaries have named several “words of the year” and they’ve all been equally depressing. Take your pick from “permacrisis” , “gaslighting”, “goblin-mode” and “sportswashing”.

An uncomfortable reflection of our times.

So what is there left to say? A Happy Christmas to all readers and an even happier New Year.

Let’s hope the new one is better than the old one.


Contact PostScript via email at oldcrutch@hotmail.com

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