Words of the Year 2018
Connected Cultures Favourites:
A selective review of the year, focusing on the words, names and phrases that have found a special place in the Connected Cultures world in 2018. Roughly in chronological order.
One of the few answers that pro-Brexit callers have been able to give James O’Brien this year on LBC, when asked to give one good reason why we should leave the E.U. The exclamation mark is essential. It adds a hint of thuggery along with a determination to try and justify something that is impossible to justify. It also links nicely with the cod wars with Iceland in the 70s. Conflict is never far away.
James O'Brien, trying to get things right in a country that's gone wrong
Runners up: Europe, blue passports, mendacious.
2. Lamb shanks
A wonderful dish I have discovered and enjoyed many times in 2018, prepared by two fine local vendors: Spices in Ascot High Street and Mango in North Ascot. Beautifully cooked and sealed in foil for me to take-away and enjoy the succulent meat flaking away from the bone at home. Zizzi does a mean sit-in Italian version.
Succulent and flaky
Runner up (and also known as): Royal Lamb Massala
A name rather than a word, though I like the verb too. This name works best in partnerships: first with Meghan; co-star in the Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle. Sensational for all the right reasons and a truly joyful occasion.
Then there was the partnership between Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling up front in the World Cup. All you had to do was pass, Harry!
Throw in Harry McGuire, the attacking defender, and finally “Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George”, blasted out by Larry Olivier at the Battle of Agincourt, and we have a name for all time.
One of the Best 100 Pictures of 2018 in Time Magazine, by Yui Mok
Runner up: #TheHarryKaneTeam (coined in late 2017 but it still applies).
See the CC feature on Portugal and the World Cup
With 100 points, 106 goals, and 32 wins, Manchester City reached new heights as Champions of England. Pep Guardiola finally showed he can do it in the Premier League following years of triumph throughout Europe.
Runners up (and I don’t mean the red rags who were 19 points behind):
Manchester’s blue, Sterling, #SharkTeam (a Benjamin Mendy favourite).
See the CC feature: The Etihad Experience
5. Wakanda Forever
The Marvel Cinematic Universe surged forward this year. The highlight was the rise of Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, and a host of fellow stars. Wakanda appears to be two conflicting and impossible places: 1. the source of all African culture and 2. the place where all African culture comes together. All in all, a counterfactual, post-colonial vision of paradise, drawing on both sci-fi and harsh social realities. The chant Wakanda Forever, a statement of identity and a celebration of black excellence and unity, is a far-reaching cultural triumph.
Sadly, more recently, we have suffered the loss of the peerless Stan Lee. The hero behind the heroes.
Runners up: Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), The Incredibles 2 and Peterloo.
See the CC review of Black Panther
6. RSC or Royal Shakespeare Company
Since re-discovering the RSC two years ago, my cultural life has improved immeasurably. And it hasn’t been all Shakespeare. Plays by Marlowe and Webster have had so much to offer too. This year, I’ve been horrified by Titus Andronicus at the Barbican, though my appetite for pie is as great as ever. I’ve been entranced by the African version of Hamlet with Paapa Essiedu at the Hackney Empire. And most recently, appalled by the megalomaniac Tamburlaine at the Swan.
There was even time for a live screening of Twelfth Night with Kara Tointon and Adrian Edmonson, played at Stratford, viewed at South Hill Park. And, hold on a minute, there’s one more RSC experience to come this year: Macbeth, starting Christopher Eccleston, after Christmas at the Barbican. My cup truly runneth over. Thank you RSC. I'm looking at the #RSCSummer2019 programme next.
"Words, words, words"
Runners up: Tragedy, “I am Duchess of Malfi Still”
I’m returning to my literary and cultural roots now. Thomas Hardy, the Victorian author who wrote a host of captivating stories, many with a glorious series of twists and ironies, most of them presenting a rather miserable outlook on life. All wrapped up in rural Wessex greenery, rustic charm and smocks. His name describes state of mind as well as physical, earthy strength. I toured Dorset in August, visiting Hardy’s cottage in the woods in Higher Bockhampton, where he was born, and Max Gate, the Victorian brick edifice he designed and built in mid-life. I sat at his desk! Both of them! And felt inspired.
Let's get this novel started
Runner up: Stinsford Churchyard (home of Hardy’s heart)
See the CC whimsical tale: Matters of the Heart
8. Virtual Waiting Room
This term came in handy when the Southbank Centre had a few spare tickets left for the Michelle Obama event after the great and the good had been presented with their complimentary passes. Officially there were 2,700 seats up for grabs, but the queue count went sky high online. Upwards of 70,000, leaving a lot of unhappy members of the public in the real world. Otherwise the concept seemed fair. Virtually virtuous. But no room for that much waiting in my life.
Still one of my favourite cultural venues . And I'm a member now.
Runner up: Intimate conversation
See the CC three part special feature on the Conversation of the Year
It’s been tough watching a BBC series of documentaries on my old school. My school! What are the chances of that? A fine comprehensive school when I was there, blessed with an excellent school captain and librarian. Yes, both me. Call me Neek one more time…! A flagship of state education. Now Marlwood School (in Gloucestershire), part of an untrusted trust, is in special measures with no sign of coming out of them. The continual decline in pupils leads to impossibly low levels of funding.
We learnt at the end that James Pope, the Head Teacher, a genuinely caring man, resigned and subsequently took up a post as an educational consultant. So he's now teaching others how to manage decline.
Special indeed, and still a badge of honour.
No runner up here. This covers everything.
We're fast approaching 2019. Time for resolutions for of the mind as well as making physical space and deciding how best to fill it again. Alas, de-cluttering seems to be something that is continual and also notional.
Which books do I really want to keep? Am I ever going to read Milton’s Paradise Lost?
And what about all those empty ring binders? I’m probably never going to get round to that PhD after all. And all those DVDs and videos. Quite a collection, but we download everything these days, right? So it’s all bric–a-brac. And yet much of it stays on my shelves, with only minimal streamlining, until my next review.
Here’s to renewed thoughts of spatial and mental freedom. Maybe even some emotional release too. Talk about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Room for improvement?
No space for runners up here
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to all my readers and supporters of Connected Cultures. 2018 has been a real blast, and I look forward to sharing many more words with you in 2019.
Happy New Year!
© Eddie Hewitt 2018