It is time for our annual round up of the most annoyingly persistent garbage of the year. These are the stories that didn’t much matter. This is a disaster-free zone. This is a tragedy-free zone. Most significantly, this is a Trump-free zone.
POKÉMON GO STOLE MY BABY
Or anything related to the location-based augmented reality game. Remember when shattering clackers were set to blind all our children? Remember when hula hoops were going to damage the hips of a coming generation? We were returned to those eras with endless panics about Pokémon fans disrupting kidney transplants as they sought cunningly concealed Doduo.
THE NEW ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ IS A FEMINIST PLOT
Would Kate Millet or Andrea Dworkin ever have guessed that a female-driven remake of a so-so 1980s comedy would provide misogynistic gender-thugs such a fecund opportunity for a fight back against imagined tyranny? The summer silly season was alive with Men's Rights idiots proclaiming that, by recasting Ghostbusters with women, Hollywood was stealing their childhood. A few critics over-compensated by hailing the film as a comic masterpiece.
SOME PARTS OF OUR TOBLERONE ARE MISSING
Like all such genuine convulsions, news of Brexit kicked up a flurry of less worthy items that allowed columns such as this to pretend something was happening that might not really have been happening. In the autumn, the people behind everyone’s favourite alpine confectionary changed the mass and dimensions of the bars to produce an aesthetic monstrosity that we chose to consider a symbol of “Brexit Britain gone Bonkers”. It’ll be straightened bananas next.
HOW TO TALK TO A GIRL WEARING HEADPHONES
Oh, this guy! Somehow or other, an international pick-up artist gathered furious coverage for writing a blog in which he told men how to get women wearing headphones to stop and listen to sexual advances. Obviously, it was worth discussing how such everyday harassment invades public space. Sadly, the more we mention this creep the more validity we give his unlovely publications. We shan’t refer to him again.
KILLER CLOWNS STOLE MY BABY
In the lead up to Halloween there were reports of scary looking clowns prowling the undergrowth, waving plastic knives and otherwise behaving in a not particularly threatening manner. The story reached the heights of absurdity when newspapers began pointing out that the lurking individuals in big shoes weren’t “real clowns”. The story did, at least, finally confirm that sensible people are as wary of clowns as they are of werewolves or zombies.
THE BRITS HAVE STOLEN SAOIRSE RONAN
It's hard to know whose side to be on here. Yes, we overact madly when any UK commentator describes an unambiguously Irish person as "British". It's an honest error. On the other hand, a person with not a corpuscle of patriotism in his veins would be justified in fuming at Richard Suchet, Sky reporter, when he argued that Ronan should take such an error as "a compliment". It's about to happen again as Ruth Negga campaigns for an Oscar.
GERRY ADAMS IS NOT A RACIST
Don't shoot me. I said: "Gerry Adams is not a racist." Hang on, I didn't mean: "don't shoot me". I just meant: "don't get angry". Why would guns or violence have anything to do with this story? Sinn Féin is a lovely party and Gerry is a very nice trampolinist. Will this do? Anyway, in May Adams got in trouble for tweeting the n-word. The aftermath was tedious.
BOATY MCBOATFACE UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY
Did you know that more people voted for Ed Balls in Strictly Come Dancing than voted for him in parliament? Well, maybe they didn't, but more people voted to name a British research vessel "Boaty McBoatface" than voted in some by-election or other. Actually, this was rather a good wheeze that ended well. The ship was named after David Attenborough. Boaty McBoatface became an attached autonomous underwater vehicle.
THE DEMISE OF BRANGELINA CALLS AN END TO AN ERA
They were the Dick and Liz of our time. They were the Anthony and Cleopatra of our time. Do you think that he was having an affair with that French actress? There’s no evidence to suggest it, but let’s ask the leading question anyway. What did go on in that aeroplane, I wonder. Is she being controlled by Putin? It’s the biggest celebrity story of the year and nobody knows anything about it.
MONIQUE THE HEN CIRCUMNAVIGATES THE GLOBE
Why are we wasting your time with this? It seems that a Frenchman called Guirec Soudee is sailing around the world with only a chicken called Monique for company. Here's a photo of her on an ice floe. Here she is in a bucket. Hang on. This completely brilliant, endlessly jolly story serves to justify the comforting power of trivial news. Look it up, now. Happy New Year.