Trumpeting the good people of 2016

Good people still managed to make their magnificent marks in the shitstorm that has been 2016. Margaret Cabourn-Smith gives them a roll call.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

So, 2016 – more a nightmare than a year. I was literally crying about Victoria Wood’s death when I found out about Prince; and it’s all been downhill since then.

It seemed, for large swathes of time, that the baddies had won: the mean-spirited; the intolerant; the bigots. Even before Brexit and Trumpaggedon, it felt like the world was turning on itself and being torn apart; a world where division is encouraged and compassion and kindness are seen as weaknesses to be mocked.

I want to be optimistic; I want to feel hope about the future. So while the list of villains has been all too visible in this, The Year of the Dangerous Buffoon, I thought I’d ignore them and redress the balance by remembering the good stuff.

Jo Cox. Honourable mention in a year which gave us the In Memoriam Roster of Doom, for being the one who sadly came to fame because of her death. The more obituaries we read, the more we saw of Cox’s strength and warmth. The final kick in the guts being the reports of her shouting to her staff as she was stabbed, “Get away, let him hurt me”: courageous and self-sacrificing to the last. What a woman.

Lily Allen, who was unashamedly moved by the plight of the refugees in the Calais Jungle, and then hounded by the press for it. Lily, you spoke for lots of us – I’m embarrassed it wasn’t all.

Gary Lineker, for sticking his brilliant head above the festering parapet and having the temerity to remind us all that compassion isn’t a weakness. Extraordinary that the media might suggest that was a shocking or insulting viewpoint.

Courageous, tenacious Gina Miller. While so many official Remainers were shocked and in denial, she was doing what nobody else had the guts and knowledge to do.

Austria – and its President Elect, Alexander Van der Bellen – for showing us that not all of the world is caving to openly fascist rhetoric.

Sadiq KhanEveryone’s favourite son-of-a-bus-driver, Sadiq Khan, for rising above the dog-whistle in the London Mayoral campaign, never responding to the race bait of his opponent, and being charming while (and here’s the bit that Labour’s been failing at) GETTING STUFF DONE.

New Richmond Park Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney, for giving the optimists and the pragmatists a tiny seed of hope, and letting us see Zac Goldsmith’s lose-face for the second time this year.

Andy Murray, for quietly getting on with being brilliantly world-class at his job without any narcissistic blustery fanfare.

Mel and Sue (what do you mean, they’re two separate people?), for leaving Bake Off and openly making a career decision based on principle and loyalty rather than financial gain.

And finally: Ed Balls, for just giving us a bit of a break from horror by learning to dance with minimal talent and maximum abandon. If you’re in need of some much needed light relief, check out his Gangnam Style.

I’m trying not to feel too doom-laden about what the next year holds. This list has at least reminded me that there are plenty of good people around. Do tweet me if I’ve missed any. And happy new year!


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Written by Margaret Cabourn-Smith

Margaret is a comedy writer performer popping up on your TV and radio who over thinks and over talks.