Bylines Scotland’s scribes have been prolific this past week offering their predictions, aspirations and shots in the dark for 2023 in our The Shape of Things to Come series. Overall their peering into the future presented a 12 month outlook that is not too awe inspiring for the coming Chinese Year of the Rabbit — which starts 22 January with the Lunar New Year and ends 9 February 2024.
One can excuse their tarnished optimism. It’s understandable. When this exercise was conducted on media platforms worldwide during the festive season a scant year ago I wonder if anyone came close to the “Get me out of here I’m a human being!” gong show that was 2022.
Who would have predicted that Czar Vlad the Mad would invade Ukraine? How many believed that within two months of the invasion if not sooner, we’d be watching news footage of Russian T-72 tanks rumbling down Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s main thoroughfare. Nearly a year later we, well most of us, can only admire the spirit and tenacity of the Ukrainian people. Sláva Ukrayíni!
Back in the dis-United Kingdom there was little, if any, glory. There’s no need to torment our loyal readers by recapping the ‘Tory Horror Picture Show’. Anyway, some will be unable to read this as they’ve had to cancel their internet provider, and there’s no place to put the computer on top of anyway after chopping up the furniture to keep the makeshift fireplace burning.
Get ready for a bumpy ride
On New Year’s Day the inaugural Shape of Things to Come was published and Martin Roche led off with a light-hearted prose; the headline: The hard right has lost the public on Brexit – prepare for a vicious backlash. Martin believes the electorate, climbing slowing up Ben Brexit, is beginning to see a beacon in the distance as the fog of misconception (that some might call lies) lifts. In truth it is the light of the economy and standard of living that is racing downhill towards them.
And everyone but the people in charge since 2010 will be blamed for the national decline. Discord between the London government and its diminishing supporters, and practically everyone else, will be “different from the past; nastier, more personal and more brutal.”
Not exactly a fuzzy-warm outlook, Martin. Makes me consider a trip to the Channel coast, help migrants come ashore, climb into their now empty dingy and paddle like hell to France.
Phoenix rising from the ashes
Dr Pam Jarvis wrote that of the many unexpected events of 2022, somewhat buried beneath other, more dramatic headlines, is that “it is shaping up to go down in history as the year in which social media began to eat itself.“ There’s an image to get out of your head today.
In her article, Hopefully new social media platforms will avoid Twitter and Facebook’s pitfalls, Pam was optimistic that “one potential phoenix may arise from the ashes being raked in the tumultuous twenties, and something to look forward to with hope rather than dread, as the new year dawns.”
An outlook that ends on a high note. See it’s not all gloom and doom. Thank you Pam. Are we starting to see 2023’s Shape of Things to Come in a more positive light? Perhaps I’ll postpone the journey southward.
No! Not the oven-ready guy?
When I asked Charlie McCarthy for a prediction for the year ahead he handed over three: Politics, Poverty, Putin. I watched as the walls of optimism crumble in my head.
Bylines Scotland’s resident Nostradamus wrote, Vladimir Vladimirovich “Putin will not last the year as the President of the Russian Federation.” Regime change in Moscow will be a prerequisite for peace talks and weakened Russian forces will be pushed out of Ukraine.
Increasing numbers of food banks are feeding those who cannot make ends meet and who cannot put enough food on the table to feed themselves and their children. Schools will become the feeding ground for the nation’s children.
As for politics, the Conservative Party will commit regicide (again) in October if the poll ratings for the Sunak-led government do not improve. In the wings stands Boris, an oven-ready prime minister who did take the Tories to victory in 2019.
What, Charlie? No locust?
Semafor Z, then it’s game over
“Enough is enough!” is Jenny Wilson’s battle cry in What will 2023 bring. I feel this year is a turning point. She rightfully so cites the brave young people standing up against dictators, where as in the UK “laws have been passed… which take away individual rights and freedoms.”
Jenny asks us to look toward Generation Z, the young people born in the new Millennium who are now hitting their 20s, who may be “our hope for the future. According to new research carried out in the US and the UK on their age group, generation Z are highly collaborative, self-reliant, and pragmatic. People are now appreciating the strength and pragmatism of this generation.” The most famous Gen X’er is Greta Thunberg, who turned 20 on 3 January.
Those who might think Generation Z is the endgame for humanity as it is the last letter in the Latin alphabet, fear not. The next generation follows the Greek alphabet; aleph, beta, etc. We should only worry when future generations are reduced to using semafore.
There’s one more item that Jenny wishes for in 2023, but I’ll save that cracker for latter.
It’s not back. It just never went away
A new wave cometh and it’s smarter. Dr Patricia S Paton sounds the alarm by writing the basic principles of Public Health have been ignored. Now we must face the consequences. Introducing XXB.1.5. No it’s not the latest RAF interceptor. It’s a variant of Covid-19. You may have noticed lately that Covid is back in the news with increased hospitalisations and, in the flu season, is adding significantly to the strain on the NHS everywhere. And the government isn’t clapping. Some might say it’s crapping. There are no current vaccines for XXB.1.5 and if you’ve had Covid it’ll give it to you again. There’s a lot to digest but it is a serious, must, read.
Boots to Ground time
Charlie McCarthy promoted his monthly Out and About series for 2023, letting us know where he’s cycling the hidden trails or putting boots on the ground walking about beautiful Scotland. And after reading what came beforehand it might be good to get out and about — while you still can.
Two out of three B-words
The Shape of Things to Come closed off with Bylines Scotland’s editor-in-chief taking a peak at transportation in 2023. Specifically predictions for buses and bikes that are doable. But not quite sure about the other B-word?
George Allison foresees the introduction of new bike-sharing stations in major cities and towns across Scotland. Also “electric buses could use advanced battery technology that provide clean and efficient transportation.”
Another uncertain year
That was the week that was, for the year that will be. A bit of a roller coaster ride, frightening at times. We might say, “Well. it can’t be worse than last year.” However, last year WAS worse than the year before, and ditto all the way back to 2016 and the Brexit referendum.
Still it’s a beautiful world, if you find the right people to hang about with, the right places to live or visit, what to take seriously and when to have a good laugh. I admit I had my doubts reading and editing through the gloom and doom and uncertainties of 2022-23 as to whether I’d stay here, but decided at the last minute to call off the trip to the home planet.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention.
George wants us to consider a return of the blimp, for public transport to remote regions of Scotland.
Jenny want to find a way to talk to the animals. But she does admit some of the questions they’d ask would be difficult for us to answer. It’s really no big deal. I talk to my cat every day.
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