Apart from the horrid stories about night clubs attacked by gunmen and young girls being knocked down and killed by hit and run drivers - both of these reported over the last few days - now is is a time of non-news stories. There have been reviews of the best books, films, music of the last year and suggestions for stuff we should not miss in the year just begun.
Today's Guardian has an article looking back at what Obama has and has not achieved in his eight years in office. Just looking at the photos is enough to cheer you up. The man has style. And then you remember that for the next four years we'll have to see pictures of a man with weird hair and oddly small, flappy hands. A man, what is more, capable of putting out this strangely contradictory tweet:
"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes". It's rather like a parent who says to a child, "I'm going to keep smacking you until you learn that smacking people is wrong."
That reminds me of a story my mother used to tell of an incident in the nursery school my older sister went to. (Unusually for that time, she was given a nursery place before age 3 because we were living with my grandparents. My grandfather was an invalid and found the noise of a toddler and a newish baby - me - too much of a strain.) One day one of the other children bit my sister, as some children do. The story was that the other child bit my sister's bottom. How true that is we do not know. The offending child was taken to see the headteacher. That good lady proceeded to bite the child, presumably also on his bottom, to show him what it felt like!
Those were the days! All the nostalgia-fest people will be saying that they knew how to deal with little bullies-in-the-making way back then. Just imagine the reaction today: social media #extreme punishment, tabloid headlines, "Headteacher's bite definitely worse than her bark" and Donald J. Trump tweeting "Lock her up!"
I think my favourite review/look forward is this one about gadgets that we should have in 2017. I could live without self-walking shoes. Fitness wrist bands that don't just measure how many steps you have taken but actually make you fit just by wearing them take me back to a gadget they had at a gym I went to in the late 1970s. You stood on a sort of mini-platform and put a vibrating band around the bit of you that needed "toning" - hips, thighs, etc. Without your having to exert yourself, the vibration was supposed to get rid of that horrid cellulite! Exercise without exercise! I also had a yoga teacher who told us that by clenching our fists, thus flexing our arm muscles, we had no need to lift weights. Which may have more truth than the vibrating belt to combat cellulite.
The idea of an instant-hangover-cure pill might solve some of the world's problems. I am pretty sure there is something like this already in existence, just not on the market. Some years ago a friend of mine accompanied students on an exchange holiday somewhere in the south of Spain. Two of the girls overindulged at a local fiesta and ended up being taken to the local hospital, somewhat the worse for wine and sangría.. By the time my friend went along to collect them, they had been given some kind of antidote to alcoholic poisoning and thus avoided a hangover. My friend was furious! She felt that they should have to suffer for their sins!
Of all the suggestions for gadgets we really, truly need, the one I personally would appreciate is the full-body Dyson airblade. The airblade hand-driers are the only hand-driers that really work, in my humble opinion. Your hands actually come out dry!
Imagine stepping out of your shower into a cabinet that blows warm air all over you. Even better than a warm towel off the heated towel-rail - my current showering luxury!