SCENE: A room in Everywhereville with a bed in it. The dying form of 2000-2009 lies in palid suffering. As the cold sweat drips down its pained face it sees its life flash before its eyes. The key themes remind it that like everyone it started out with great hope and optimism but became embittered in its old age.
A bearded man in a cave, sorry, a bearded man living incognito in a cave who is attached to a drip and who has health problems is causing global terrorism, on the scale of which the world has never known. And nobody can find him. Obviously. A theological war, or perhaps the inevitable collision of two cultures brought on by globalisation. No, it’s definitely not the CIA, MI6 or ETA (as Aznar’s Partido Popular government said at the time of the 2003 Madrid bombings) but shadowy guerilla organisation Al-Qaeda. Not only did it result in excruciating delays at airports and an end to taking liquids through check-in but also gave rise to Islamophobia and the use of transport as a means of destruction, culminating in the unlawful killing of Jean-Charles Menezes by Scotland Yard. The world will never be the same again.
Liberty and Democracy
The death of. The west ‘stood shoulder to shoulder’ and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to tell the people of these nations that they needed liberty and democracy. In the aftermath of the London bombings the idea of bio-metric ID cards were considered by the government, and police were given greater powers to stop and search as well as a whole glut of anti-terrorist laws being passed by government giving police further powers.
While the noughties saw the continued popularity of hip-hop and the birth of grime which gave the world the word ‘bling’, the world also learned to love rock n roll once more.
The indie press wet themselves over the massively over-rated The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys got famous on Myspace. but the new stripped down sound of rock and roll was kick-started by The Strokes, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and later, Arcade Fire and The Kings of Leon. While The Strokes failed to live up to their debut album, they laid down a marker and Jack White of The White Stripes stock continued to rise and rise. Kings of Leon went stadium rock. Noughties art-rock which borrowed heavily from the likes of the Velvet Underground, The Stooges and The Fall also brought renewed interest in the likes of Gang Of Four, The Slits, MC5 and Television.
Perennial bed-wetters Coldplay were everywhere.
Amy Whitehouse went from big-boned vapid R&B diva to beehived drug-addled motown soulstress, in the process making a soundtrack for her own media circus with the splendidly over-played ‘Rehab’. Pete Doherty successfully managed to get on first name terms with every one of London’s police officers, shagged Kate Moss and turned up for a gig once in a while.
The reforming of the indie old guard. Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, Blur, Smashing Pumpkins, The Stooges all reformed and played comeback gigs and tours. A great way to see the heroes you missed first time round. Such a shame they are overweight, old and ugly now.
Skinny jeans. The bane of overweight people everywhere. The legwear of choice for indie bands and people studying humanities subjects.
16 year old boys (they’ve always existed) with floppy haircuts that look like they cost more money than the cost of my entire wardrobe.
Teenage boys wearing cardigans. They might as well put a sign on their heads saying ‘bully me’.
Agyness Dean and the short, messy hair tom-boy look.
Dita Von Teese and Burlesque dancing. Phwoar. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.
Also with a nod to Dita, Amy and the noughties rock – 50’s girl hipster chic.
The appropriation of Burberry by the working-classes. The ultimate in pre-recession decadence.
Paris Hilton, Jordan, David and Victoria Beckham, Kate, Pete, Amy. ‘Nuff said.
MP3 players were once little long things that people stuck to their lapels making them look a little bit silly. Then came the ipod. They’re square, hold lots of songs and everyone bought one. Now there is the iphone, which is an ipod that makes phone calls. So when you go out and get blind drunk you can now lose your music, your pictures AND all your phone numbers in one fell swoop. How easy technology makes life.
Social networking – Lily Allen got famous on Myspace and it had nothing to do with her dad being famous. Arctic Monkeys got famous too. Everyone loved Myspace and it was sold for a very large sum of money. Then we didn’t like Myspace because it was Facebook that was really cool. While the facebook-myspace fight took place (well, pummelling) Twitter came along and everyone learned to love that with facebook.
Reality TV – Before the recession, when jobs were plentiful, people dreamed of situations where people sat around all day doing nothing and pretending to like all the people they were stuck in the room with. In 2000 Big Brother hit our screens and people dreamed no more. Nasty Nick, Craig the scouser and of course, Jade Goody. Era defining television indeed.
Now that we have a recession and there are no jobs, people can dream of a situation where people sit around all day doing nothing and pretending to like the people they are stuck in the room with. It’s called ‘work’.
The smoking ban came into being with little resistance. Despite the call from landlords, licensees and restaurant proprietors up and down the country that it would ruin their businesses, people still go out to drink alcohol in pubs and eat in restaurants. While people can have a night out without smelling of tobacco, it means that you can now smell how much perfume people wear, or possibly, how little they wash.
Chavs/Hoodies – they’ve always been around, it’s just that now they wear different clothes and are given a different name by the press. Townies, scallies, pikeys. Bored kids who aren’t old enough to get drunk taking iphones and money off those who are old enough when they’re walking home from the pub. In the noughties chavs discovered stabbing. According to the Daily Mail, everyone was doing it.
24 hour licensing laws – another Daily Mail favourite. Britain being soaked 24/7 (and I don’t mean the weather) didn’t happen. Town centres filled with brawling drunkards throughout the night and widespread criminal damage due to 60 million+ people being drunk didn’t transpire either. Well, no more than usual.
EU enlargement – The concept of the Polish plumber became the nemesis of white transit van drivers with fluffy dice everywhere. The Labour government were criticised for not putting a cap on the number of workers coming from the new accession states, as the government predicted 70,000 new workers to the economy. 700,000 new workers came.
Natural disasters always happen and are always sad. They are seldom as shocking and destructive as the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. The devastation caused over such an enormous area of the world – although the epicentre was in Indonesia, effects were felt as far away as Alaska and the African coast – shows how little control we have over nature despite our best efforts. 230,000 people died.
“The end of boom and bust economics” the government announced before winning their second election in 2002. Six years later this was seen as a bit of a porky as the government tinkered with economic policy to let the city boys off their leashes. The city boys duly obliged by making staggering amounts of personal wealth while handing the tax payer a whopping £500 billion bill. The economy fell flat on it’s face along with pretty much every other economy in a month of madness in 2008. The recession brought with it such verbal irritants such as ‘credit crunch’, ‘staycation’ and ‘double-dip’. Terms that people bandy about with knowing authority, and which, I suspect someone somewhere who invented these words, no doubt thinks they have left their indelible mark on the English language. Let’s hope not.
Noughties – R.I.P.