Belfast Telegraph

The lessons that I'll be taking into the new decade

By Jane Graham

As we stand shakily on the precipice of 2010, preparing to greet the new decade with trepidation and hope and, for some of us, an unusually bad smell, bearing in mind we haven't blinking washed for a week, it's our last chance to take stock of what the last 12 months have taught us.

This year has seen the goal posts shift in so many fields - politics, finance, sport, Cowell-world (the theme park is surely only a dream away) - that only a deaf, dumb and blind man could leave it without having learned a few new things. Here are five crucial things 2010 has taught me:

Good news still sells

Despite a news agenda which is increasingly obsessed with the nastiest details of the most gruesome crimes, which continues to mythologise mentally ill killers and torturers (just because he calls himself the Crossbow Cannibal, you don't have to fall into line guys) and gets turned on by gangsters, wannabe terrorists, paedophiles and terminal illness, the most feverishly followed international story of the last year was the unbelievably romantic and hopeful tale of the rescued Chilean miners. It showed that the people love a happy ending more than anything, even if the hacks who serve them don't quite get it.

No matter how outrageous drama gets, nothing trumps real life

Cinema gave us blue aliens, double-jointed mad hatters and dream invaders. TV gave us undead crime-fighters and angsty vampires and flying sharks. But nothing the scriptwriters came up with was half as system-shocking as a Liberal Democrat becoming deputy Prime Minster, cuddly Mark Owen being exposed as an affairs-addicted cheat, or Iris Robinson's Bermuda love triangle.

Footballer has now replaced gangster, benefits cheat and priest as the least popular occupation for sons-in-law

It's not just that so many of them are stupid, ego-choked adulterers, it's the culture of greed and selfishness they swim in that really puts us off Premiership footballers. Man City striker Carlos Tevez has a clause in his contract which states that no one in the team can ever earn more than him, regardless of status or quality. What better summation of 21st century arrogance and avarice?

Regardless of law or pay, women remain second class citizens in the eyes of the media

Whether it's TV's fixation with young nubiles over their vastly more capable older peers (see: all TV news programmes and breakfast shows, the panels of X-Factor, Strictly, Over the Rainbow et al), the weekly invention of female rivalries to publicise/eroticise music, movies and telly, or the stream of paparazzi pics used to point out a female subject's physical imperfections in the daily press, the idea that female celebrities are treated with an iota of the respect that their male counterparts are awarded gets more laughable with each passing year. Mind you, Sex and the City 2 didn't help the cause much either.

Regardless of how the world changes, history will always repeat itself

And so despite incredible headlines about how UK politics has been shaken to the core by the creation of the first coalition government since the Second World War, within months of the 'new start' we find ourselves back in time to when protesting students and striking public servants were government enemy number one, single mothers and disabled people were first in line to have their benefits cut, school sports and arts funding was ransacked and snowfall topped the news every December. Welcome back to the 80s everybody!

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