From the arrival of royal baby George to departure of Nelson Mandela, 2013 has been a learning curve
This is my last column of 2013, when, as a grateful accumulator of cultural knowledge, I like to look back over and give praise for every new nugget of knowledge the past 12 months has gifted me. Here's 2013's best.
Even progressive (it's a relative term, when it comes to the monarchy) heirs to the throne have to give their kids dull traditional names. Naming the future king is, it seems, no time to flip the bird to the establishment stiffs. So we didn't, as some dared to dream, get Prince Twitter, Sanjeev, Jay-Z or Alan. And it was left to the valiant Kanye West and his reality TV queen bride Kim Kardashian to push the boundaries of official monickerism by naming their baby girl North West.
Olympic diving pin-up Tom Daly fancies girls and boys. Thus adding many happy hopeful males to the long list of girls who dream of making a conquest of him. The headline wasn't that Daly was bisexual, it was that he was unusually brave, at a young and vulnerable age, to make what could have been a "reputation damaging" statement, had the rest of us lived by the moral compass of the perennially outraged Daily Mail. Respect to Tom, but wouldn't it be great if next year we could be listing the Premiership footballers who've shown the same bottle?
Pushing your bent-over ass into the crotch of a man old and grizzled enough to be your dad doesn't look cool, even if you happen to be singing the best pop song of the year, Miley Cyrus.
Not only is it possible for a Pope to separate himself from the Vatican, to denounce its narrow-minded obsession with its own power and preservation, and to actually live by the code of peace, tolerance, love and the eschewing of materialism that Jesus advocated – but he can give the Catholic Church a chance of staying relevant, to its own flock and others, by doing so. I like to think Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a pretty progressive and tolerant man himself by all accounts, is relishing the words of Pope Francis. Peace out, brothers!
Nigella Lawson has taken cocaine. There were two possible surprise elements to this story, depending on your point of view. Either you were amazed that a heartsick woman joining her dying husband in the odd spot of pain-alleviating drug-taking was considered "reputation shattering" by some mainstream media. Or you were shocked that almost no ordinary people seemed to mind much at all. In the war for public sympathy Nigella, regardless of her drastically altered image (from posh, beautiful, highly capable mother and career woman to posh, beautiful, highly capable mother and career woman who has taken cocaine and has the odd joint) not only retained the support of all her old fans, but seems to have accumulated a few new admirers, who previously considered her rather lofty or intimidatingly perfect.
With charisma and a great voice, a good man can defy even a Noel Edmonds haircut. Your portrayal of James Hunt in Rush brought hope to many, Chris Hemsworth.
When the world loses a giant – and this year, with the deaths of Lou Reed, Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing and, of course, Nelson Mandela, it was deprived of a few – you can actually feel it get lighter. Friends and family of Bob Dylan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Philip Roth and Maggie Smith, please be vigilant.
Danny Dyer looks smashing in a pink dressing gown. Like most of us didn't already know that.'Not only can a Pope separate himself from the Vatican, but he can give Catholic Church a chance of staying relevant'