Welcome to 2019.
And a hearty good riddance, I say, to 2018; not one of the vintage seasons in my ever-growing collection of years.
The good news is that we, my blessed wife and I, remain alive, which is more than can be said for several of the friends we lost last year. And we are well, too, or at least look well – as people insist on telling us, though often in a querulous tone of voice that somehow manages to suggest that we have no right to.
Among the happier highlights of an otherwise gruesome 2018 was the birth of a granddaughter, Evelyn, who joins our grandson Maxwell as a future guardian of the family dynasty. Who could ask for anything more, as Mr Gershwin once asked? Not me.
In keeping with tradition, I have no predictions for 2019.
Not with Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, and Donald Trump in the White House, both of them hanging on to their jobs by the figurative skins of their teeth. Either one, or both, could soon be running out of both skin and teeth. There are many who might wish to see that happen, including me, but we must be careful what we wish for. The consequences could well be the formation of an equally bizarre transatlantic comedy pairing, the greatest since Stan and Ollie, of Jeremy and Mike. Another fine mess …
Brexit will happen, I suppose. But then again, it might not. If the people in charge of negotiating the thing don’t know how it will turn out, how am I supposed to? Any other outcome seems increasingly unlikely, though, even if some diehard ‘remainers’ still cling desperately to the hope that somehow a second referendum will be called and come up with a reversed result. My best guess, and no more than that, is that some kind of compromise will emerge on the Irish border question, saving Theresa May’s deal, and possibly Theresa herself – for the time being. That scenario will satisfy no one, least of all the members of the revived League of Empire Loyalists who stirred the Sceptr’d Isle’s latent isolationist sentiments in the first place, but that is where we are.
Alright, since I’ve inadvertently fallen into ad hoc forecasting, I’ll go out on a limb to predict that President Donald Trump will not be removed from office. Impeachment is a complex option, and an unsafe one since the Republicans in the Senate would have the final word. What means of disposal are there?
By way of reassuring news, Trump’s popularity seems to have peaked, or so the latest opinion polls suggest, and his scope for mischief-making will be restricted by the Democrats’ seizure of control of the House of Representatives. If the stock market decline continues, eating away at savings and pensions, then anything might happen.
Senate Republicans may not have the appetite or the guts to topple Trump, but they may be persuaded to go along with any plots, even if inspired by the despised Democrats, to rein in his excesses. Yes, even at the cost of creating a lame duck. Better a lame duck than a limp poodle.
Of course, Special prosecutor Robert Mueller, lurking in the woodshed, might yet emerge to demand an entirely different denouement.
But that’s it for my forecasts: Brexit and Trump to survive, while we all gnash our own teeth and carry on regardless.
So here we beat on, as we do every year, into the ever-receding wild blue yonder of the unknowable.