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A to Z of 2012

A to Z of 2012

A to Z of 2012

From Korean pop sensations to rain-soaked flotillas, David Whitehouse presents our guide to a momentous year



The Mayans believe that 21 December 2012 represents the end of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, and thus the end of the world. If it’s now after that date and you are reading this, it turned out to be nonsense. If you’re not reading this, everyone you’ve ever loved is dead. Or you forgot to pick up ShortList.


BBC in pieces

BBC Director General George Entwistle resigned in November after just 54 days in charge of the Beeb, after Newsnight falsely implicated Lord McAlpine in a child sex abuse scandal. On ITV, Phillip Schofield hijacked the PM live on air with a list of people who might be paedophiles. The next day he was back talking about love triangles in Corrie.


Curiosity rover

On 6 August we put a car-sized robot on Mars. It studied rocks, took soil samples and prompted everyone on Twitter to make the same gag about Johnny Five from Short Circuit.



On 4 December, legendary children’s comic The Dandy, home of Desperate Dan, printed its last issue after 75 years on newsagents’ shelves. In the Fifties, it sold two million copies, but figures had fallen to below 8,000. The final edition had an appearance by Sir Paul McCartney. Presumably he’d turned up just to blame the death of another British institution on Yoko Ono.


Erotic fiction

EL James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey series became a publishing phenomenon, selling 60 million copies worldwide and spawning far too many copycats. It became a commuting classic. And yet when ShortList writers flaunt their arousal publicly, they’re ejected from the swimming baths.


Fresco Jesus

‘Ecce Homo (Behold The Man)’ by Elias Garcia Martinez was so stunning a painting of Jesus that it held pride of place in Sanctuary Of Mercy Church near Zaragoza for more than 100 years. Noticing it was suffering the deteriorating effects of moisture, octogenarian Cecilia Gimenez gave it an unauthorised touch-up. The results, which went viral, meant the world knew what the life of Christ would have looked like if filmed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.


George Lucas sells Star Wars

Star Wars fans everywhere were shaken by November’s news that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4bn. “How dare he sell out!” cried many, into mobile handsets currently advertised by Yoda.


Higgs boson

They call it The God Particle, and something that might be it turned up in the Large Hadron Collider in July. Apparently, its existence will greatly enhance our understanding of the universe. Hang on, are we confusing this with a Dan Brown book?


iPhone 5

According to Bing, the most searched term of 2012 was ‘iPhone 5’. Apple addicts were disappointed that it couldn’t project solid holograms that it was possible to make love to. To be honest, we’d probably still buy it if it bullied our dog.


Jimmy Savile

Wrestler, DJ, presenter, grotesque.


Kate Middleton’s baby

Within days, its existence had indirectly led to the tragic death of a nurse. A reminder the monarchy still has power, just in a different form.



Lord Leveson (played by a friendly, sleepy bear) was asked to conduct an inquiry into media ethics. Everyone came, even Hugh Grant (played by a Hugh Grant impressionist) and Rupert Murdoch (played by a testicle). Lord Leveson found that some people have been treated disgustingly by the press. David Cameron (played by a moist piece of ham) decided to ignore his recommendations anyway.


Mark Zuckerberg floats Facebook

On 17 May, Facebook achieved the largest valuation to date for a newly listed public company – $104bn. Finally, a price had been placed on that most primal human instinct… the urge to see your ex’s new partner and confirm they’re fat. Worth every penny.


New York

Hurricane Sandy showed up in New York in October, part of a journey that would take 253 lives and cause damage costing $65.6bn. So, around half a Facebook. Once more, a city we’re used to seeing decimated in films looked like so many CGI versions of itself. We were disappointed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man didn’t turn up.



Olympians, Paralympians and the great British public conspired to create something beautiful, enormous and inspiring, something it was impossible to moan about. For a second, we even quite enjoyed dressage, a sport in which a horse looks like it’s trying to make a difficult decision. Strange times.


Pussy Riot

On 21 February, Russian feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot performed an anti-Putin song at a Moscow cathedral. Two members were eventually sent to prison. Huw Edwards almost went into spasm as he was forced to say the word ‘pussy’ over and over again on BBC News.


Queen’s Jubilee

Gary Barlow waved a final goodbye as he disappeared into the Queen’s bottom. Music by Brian May.


Racism in football

As the beautiful game was dragged through the court, an ugly head was reared. From some angles it looked like John Terry’s.



A nation kills its own. The world watches.


Tax avoidance

We could all learn lessons in saving money from the following in these times of austerity, who, thanks to legal loopholes, allegedly haven’t been paying as much tax as they should. Step forward Amazon, Starbucks, Jimmy Carr, Chris Moyles, Gary Barlow and many more. Three cheers, guys.


US Election

Barack Obama scraped into four more years as US president, surprising many Republicans. They shouldn’t have been that shocked: their nominee had been filmed dismissing 47 per cent of the population, and some of their congressmen had 18th-century opinions on rape. In a sensible world, Obama would have been voted in with a landslide even if he’d had experimental breast implants.


Vatican meets Twitter

The Pope appeared on Twitter as @pontifex. For a while he said nothing, and as such there was no evidence that he actually exists. Seemed apt.



In 2012, Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and Olympic gold, then got knocked off his bike going past a garage. British achievement will always be weighted by a sense of Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em.


X-rated royalty

August, and phone pics emerged of Prince Harry naked at a party in Las Vegas. A month later, topless pictures of Kate Middleton were published in France. At the time of writing, the completion of a Royal Nudity Golden Triumvirate is yet to

be completed, with Prince Edward’s purple ruddy arse still under wraps.


YouTube’s biggest ever video

South Korean pop star PSY’s Gangnam Style, would have made an excellent soundtrack to a You’ve Been Framed video of a dog fruitlessly humping the air. Instead it reached more than one billion YouTube hits and is still raising the number of calls made to Dignitas.


Zipwire Boris

New York’s mayor tackles crime and nudges the city to recovery after a superstorm. London’s gets dangled from a zipwire he’s too fat to use like a piñata fill of bon mots.