“I can’t wait for 2016 to be over.”
“Me at the start of 2016 (*insert happy, optimistic photo*)/Me at the end of 2016 (*insert bedraggled mess of a photo*)”
“F**k you 2016. Roll on 2017.”
You’ll have been certain to have seen about a thousand variants of these three statements on your Facebook and Twitter feeds recently as the year draws to a close and we all look forward to sending the last twelve months into the past while we down a hundred Jagerbombs this New Year’s Eve.
Why? Well, it’s a year that’s seen Brexit, Trump, post-truth everything and the death of a whole host of beloved people; from musicians, to comedians, actors and many, many more besides. In fact, so many that one man managed to create an entire Sgt Pepper album cover out of people who’d breathed their last in 2016.
So many great people taken from us; who wouldn’t wish for that to stop in 2017?
Well, there’s definitely one group of people we can think of: the aficiandos – including me - of one of the internet’s greatest websites – deathlist.net. You guys with all your ‘oh please let 2016 end’ are so basic and obvious. It’s been a fantastic year with people dropping like flies and anyone who says otherwise is wrong.
For the uninitiated, The DeathList is a selection of 50 celebrities that are tipped to meet the grim reaper in the next sixth months. It’s been running since 1986, when the inaugural list was made for the following year in the Mandela Bar at Warwick University by a group of students: the founders of DeathList. 1987 saw only a solitary correct call (admittedly out of a reduced field of 31), but over the following years, their talents at death-predicting steadily improved. 1994 saw the first list of 50, a solid total of 9 meeting their maker, and they’ve not looked back since.
For them, 2016 has been a truly glorious year, as one icon after another has queued up to pop their clogs, leave this mortal coil and go to join the choir invisible (which, we imagine, is sounding pretty beefy now that Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and Lemmy have joined their ranks. Although Lemmy’s probably been chucked out by now, knowing him).
As we write, Zsa Zsa Gabor gave them their tenth notch of the year, easing them into double figures – a target they’ve successfully managed to hit every year since 1999 (with the exception of 2010 and 2011), with highs of 14 correct coffin calls in 2015, 2008 and 2003.
Why is it not higher? Well, there are several exacting criteria for the list of 50: only 25 are allowed to remain on from the previous year; candidates are not eligible if their only claim to fame is that they are likely to die shortly; and they must also be famous enough that their death will be widely covered by the UK media. Thus, there is some serious skill in predicting who won’t make it through the next 12 months.
So – and let’s be honest here – after 2016’s bloodbath, the question we all want to know is just who will we be waving goodbye to before reading a thousand Facebook statuses from people who met them once, in 2017?
Well, naturally, let’s look at those still standing from the upper echelons of the 2016 DeathList: Olivia De Havilland (actress), Billy Graham (evangelist), Herman Wouk (author), Javier Perez de Cuellar (Ex UN Secretary General), Richard Adams (Watership Down author) and Kirk Douglas (actor). As the youngest of these is 96, we’d say they’re all living on borrowed time already. And before you feel any sympathy, statistically, they probably all voted Brexit so they deserve it.
Further down the list are Liz Smith (Royle Family nana) – *UPDATE: NOW DEAD*, Mary Tyler Moore (actress), Peter Sallis (Last of the Summer Winer), Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (‘Casual Racist’), James Randi (Magician/skeptic), Lord Peter Carrington (UK Politician), Clive James (TV presenter) and Bob Dole (US Politician), all of whom will no doubt be ever-more-nervous/longing for the sweet release of death with each passing day.
Younger candidates include Paul Gascoigne (‘Gazza’) who, at 49, should be relatively safe from the clutches of the Dark Angel, but is probably a fair shout given his ongoing struggles with the demon booze. Of course no one wants him to go, but what can you do, life’s a bastard.
A quick straw poll of the office reveals a few others that should be checking their wills are in order and ready to omit that son they never really liked.
Keith Richards (possibly immortal but now 73), Shane McGowan (only 58 but good God can you imagine the state of his liver), Tina Turner (now 77 – when was the last time you saw her in public?), Bernie Sanders (75, could that stressful Primary race finish him off?), Bill Oddie (75, and given he’s universally loved, probably a dead cert), Buzz Aldrin (86 and seemingly with a death wish given he was recently evacuated from the South Pole), Brian Blessed (80, again though possibly immortal), Phil Collins (65, could he do a Jacko before his comeback gigs next summer? Given his brush with death during the booze years, cannot be ruled out), Richard Branson (66, might take his Virgin Galactic craft for a risky test drive), Barry Gibb (70, might fancy reuniting the Bee Gees in heaven), Hulk Hogan (63, *redacted in case we get sued*), Raul Castro (85, just very old) and Dame Judi Dench (82, likewise).
And, of course, the one we all fear will never happen, and which even death-lovers might get a bit upset about: Sir David Attenborough, now aged a mighty 90. Let’s not even dwell on that one.
Fancy a long shot? Well, given the history of American politics, someone else might too, which is why Donald Trump might be worth backing not to make it through 2017 alive.
Our prediction? We can’t see the deaths stopping any time soon. With the explosion in celebrities from the 1960s onwards, there’s just too many well-known people around who are in the danger years of their existences.
Want a stable job? Become an obituary writer or a grave digger. You’ll have a job for life (lol).
And for anyone who thinks this is all in very bad taste? Relax, we’ll all be dead very soon once the global warming feedback loops kick in (assuming Trump’s itchy nuclear button finger doesn’t finish us all off first, of course). And everyone who dies now means one less competitor in the forthcoming water wars, so it’s in your interests too.