As is fitting for a year in which fun and indeed most famous people born before the turn of the millennium were cancelled, the Welsh government has decided to round off 2021 by banning references to “Brexit” and the “able-bodied” in its style guide for civil servants. “Wasting energy on problems that don’t even exist” was the verdict of the Welsh opposition leader – one which could also be extended to England’s civil service, whose style guide recently underwent an identical update (albeit more quietly).
The upshot is, wherever you find yourself in the UK, failing to know the lingo could see your social cachet fall further than Pizza Express Woking. And there’s sure to be more terms shunted from the lexicon come 2022, such as:
When is a restriction not a restriction? When it’s a “protection”, according to Dr Zubaida Haque of Independent Sage, who this week explained that nearly two years of curtailments are far less depressing than we realise. Framed differently, this logic goes, we should see them as public health measures and not joy killers (paraphrasing there), and that will make binning all social activity from now until 2028 more palatable. It’s a rebrand on the optimistic side, I’d say. But time will tell.
Where vaccinations are concerned, we have done rather well – successfully managing not to be worse than the rest of the world, which remains the truest political metric of all. On other fronts you might recall we have been far less impressive, like with our “world-beating” Test and Trace system which – in what sadly turned out not to be a case of nominative determinism – has been, oh, shambolic. An October report found that the £37 billion project had managed, at its best, to have 49 per cent of its workforce actually working; failing both to prevent transmission and lockdowns, and blowing through obscene amounts of cash. “Say no more about it” is the most generous descriptor it deserves.
‘Because of Covid’
It’s the adage of the age – the get-out clause for every company you’ve interacted with since March 23 2020 which, for reasons unrelated to Covid, can definitely not perform the task you paid them for “because of Covid”. What effect has the virus had on this particular service, you ask? No matter the query: “because of Covid” will be the response. It’s a defence of similar intellectual complexity to “dog ate my homework”, yet here we are.
Once a beacon of British literature who made some of the industry’s greatest acting stars; now successfully usurping Voldemort for Hogwarts-adjacent pariah status. She Who Must Not Be Named has been cancelled by most people under 33 for expressing views on transgender issues out of step with the current vogue. As such, the films’ stars – who apparently refute the concept of engaging with anyone whose politics don’t suit – have taken turns to denounce the author, who has been absent from all reunions and 20-year anniversary celebrations since the first film’s release. Very 2021.
Life is hard for the bricks-and-mortar shopper these days, given that most stores have either shut or become inexplicably terrible. Which makes Accenture’s report on websites’ free delivery offerings – provided by only 13 per cent of retailers in the run-up to Christmas – all the more irritating. It wouldn’t be so bad, if the items ordered turned up – but of course they won’t, instead kicking off the doom loop of calling whichever service is responsible for delivery to be told that it can no longer take place “because of Covid”, and then trying to get a refund from the retailer, which also can’t happen “because of Covid”. Don’t bother weeping down/smashing the receiver in frustration either – you know you’re not going to be able to get a replacement this century.
What is it, I hear you ask of this announcement out of Silicon Valley? It’s just Facebook – or their latest, largest step towards world domination, depending on your view. Two months ago, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was now “Meta”; a more natural way to immediately call to mind the 3D world they are building (that’s the Metaverse), which will apparently remove the need for humans to interact directly ever again. Ominous stuff – though if virtual supply chains are spared the “because of Covid” curse, perhaps it may not be so bad after all?
Another modern mystery not hugely worth solving: Non-Fungible Tokens have become the latest icon of the art world, even though they both do not properly exist, and buying them doesn’t actually equate to ownership. Described as a “unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger” (lost us several words ago), many art fans have decried the enormous sums gathered for the purchase of such works, which can only be displayed at the buyer’s home, on a personal screen (and not their website, for instance). Conceptual abyss, or contemporary art? Is that very question art itself? As yet unclear. Simpler to cancel them now – a move which will probably up their market value anyhow.