January: A scouting party from the ancient Mayans arrives over South America to see how things rolled after their calendar ran out. They meet with world leaders, but refuse to reveal the secrets of a technology that allowed them to escape the Earth’s atmosphere, in a ship made almost completely of raffia work, to set up a new life on Alpha Centauri.
Their only press conference goes badly, after the Mayans soon tire of questions about the end of the world. ‘We don’t know, do we?’ they tell the assembled journalists through an interpreter. ‘You guys should really check your facts a bit better.’
As they leave, the US and Chinese fighter jets compete to bring their craft down, but their missiles are no match for a paste made from chewed Amazonian tree bark the Mayans throw out behind them as a protective screen. Their last message, beamed to all networks as they exit the upper atmosphere, says: ‘See you made the Ipipikuku beetle extinct. It was kind of the key to everything for us, but best of luck with all of that anyway. Kind Regards, the Mayans.’
February: The storms of sticky brown rain which have been lashing Scotland for the past month, are revealed as a last desperate gambit by the Coca-Cola Corporation to get the natives to switch from Irn Bru. ‘It’s the only country in the world where Coke’s not the top seller,’ a spokesperson says. ‘Frankly, we see that as un-American.’
Although some teenagers are spotted licking bits of street furniture unpatriotically, in general the plan backfires, as sales of Irn Bru soar. There is even a new cocktail invented which combines it with Scotland’s other national drink, Buckfast.
Both sides of the independence debate claim the affair proves they are right, and the other side wrong.
March: The UK Government announces new welfare reforms that involve merging the Department of Social Security with the National Lottery. Under the proposals, 10% of all benefits will be automatically entered in a weekly draw; ten winners will then choose from three possible jobs, and work in them for six months to prove they deserve the money.
Endemol wins the rights to the reality t.v. tie-in, but the scheme hits fresh controversy when Boris Johnson’s nephew, and a distant cousin of George Osborne, are both among the first ten winners. The public vote both out in the early rounds, but they then land jobs presenting the show, after the unexplained disappearance of Ant and Dec.
April: The SFA stuns the football world by withdrawing Scotland from all future international competitions, with immediate effect.
‘We may have invented the game,’ an ashen-faced spokesperson tells the world’s media, ‘but to be frank we’re just a bit of an embarrassment now. We’re still available for friendlies if anyone fancies a kick-about, but we’re not going to waste anyone’s time entering World Cups, or anything like that.’
The BBC coverage of the news still manages to get a mention of England’s 1966 World Cup victory in.
Both sides of the independence debate claim the whole issue shows they are right, and the other side wrong.
May: William and Kate’s royal baby arrives, and experts produce detailed data to prove it is The Most Beautiful Baby. Ever. Bar. None. The Prime Minister declares a three day public holiday, and even hardened old republicans are reported as weeping for sheer joy into their pints of bitter.
There are only two sour notes. A doctor who implies that the halo-like effect round the baby’s head may be down to ‘generations of in-breeding’ is sent to the Tower of London, but gains a reprieve when his smart-alec lawyer argues hanging, drawing and quartering might be against his human rights.
There are also some instances of loyal pensioners exploding from sheer national pride, at street parties in the South of England. However, instead of leaving the usual ratatouille of body parts and entrails, their only remains consist of fluffy bunnies and a species of slipper orchid previously unknown to Kew Gardens.
June: Freak weather conditions continue worldwide. There are snowstorms in the Sahara, while in Scotland, the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road is closed due to earthquake for the first time.
A localised hurricane in the Congo sweeps north after devastating a jungle area, and an extended family of baboons drop out of a low cloud onto the pitch at Lord’s, on the second day of the first Test. Players and baboons are uninjured, and the dominant male later learns how to bowl at a brisk medium pace, going on to form the first known team of cricketing primates at London Zoo.
Despite the efforts of their manager, Geoffrey Boycott, they are denied Test status by the ICC.
July: A nation starved of sport after last year’s Olympics and Paralympics eagerly awaits the Bit-Rubbish-At-Games Games, staged this month. Entrants must produce a signed certificate from their former PE teacher that they always got picked last, and turned up at the gym at least three times with a note from their Mum.
Unkindly dubbed The Fat Folks’ Olympics by the media, public opinion turns with the heartwarming story of Bubba, a twenty stone thirty-year-old who always wanted to be a sprinter. He is beaten into second place in the 100m final, but the winner, Derek, is stripped of his gold medal after video phone footage shows him snapping a wet towel at the other finalists’ backsides in the showers after the race.
August: Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe is hit by an severe outbreak of norovirus. Stand up comedians turn out to be particularly vulnerable to it. As the big venues stand empty, desperate promoters drag in experimental theatre groups, and even poets, to try to recoup some of their losses.
By the time the comedians recover, their audiences have turned against them. Heckles of ‘shallow and jejune!’ and ‘where’s your Kierkegaard references?’ are common. Michael McIntyre is reduced to tears by a shout of ‘I paid to see cutting edge Japanese Noh theatre, not this bland pish!’
September: A retired Fife miner reveals that he has a gateway to the multiverse in a shed at the bottom of his garden. He has known about it for three years.
‘I didnae think anyone else would be interested, like,’ he is quoted as saying. ‘I had a look at my parallel existences, but it was aw fancy food and foreign travel. I’d rather stay here and make sure the pigeons are looked after.’
Within days, the local council has closed the portal down on health and safety grounds. ‘We haven’t managed to get P.I. insurance for disruption to the space/time continuum,’ a spokesperson confirms.
Both sides of the independence debate … you know the rest.
October: World-wide shortages of key foodstuffs are felt most keenly in the more affluent areas of Western cities, where delicatessens run out of sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar altogether. In Edinburgh’s Morningside district, a disagreement over the last jar of quince jelly leads to rioting which quickly spreads as far as Merchiston. In London, a protest march through Kensington and Chelsea features chants of: ‘What do we want? Wholewheat focaccia! When do we want it…’
November: Elvis Presley makes his first public appearance since his discovery in an Amish community in Eckhart County, Indiana. The sprightly 78-year-old recounts how the hamburger overdose of a lookalike fan gave him the chance to fake his own death, leaving his Cadillac at the State line and walking to his new life of farming and occasional barn raising.
Presley tells of how he was nearly discovered in 1984 when Harrison Ford came to research his role for the film Witness, but got away with it, by mumbling a few words of German picked up while he was in the Army.
Plans for a comeback tour are delayed while the King has both hips replaced. In the meantime, he confirms that he has not, at any time, worked in a chip shop.
December: As the year draws to a close, the skies are full of strange portents. A flock of Gloucester Old Spot are sighted in close formation over Huddersfield. In Scotland, both sides of the independence debate admit the other lot actually have some pretty valid points, and it’s really just up to whatever everyone thinks, actually.
Katie Price stuns the literary world by announcing she has written her latest book herself. Indeed, the slim volume of poetry, Joined Up Writing In A Particular Order, is acclaimed by critics. The Times Literary Supplement calls it ‘magisterial … the sweep and ambition of pieces like ‘Dark Roots, Blonde Highlights,’ is simply dazzling.’ Carol Ann Duffy describes it as ‘Sylvia Plath on helium.’
Other Christmas stocking fillers include a new Mayan calendar, featuring scenes from their new planet orbiting Alpha Centauri; a range of Amish-made Gibson guitars; and, of course, facsimile copies of the Royal Baby’s first nappy.
World hunger is solved, after science fiction writer and maths genius Hannu Rajaniemi does some really hard sums. Cease fires are declared in conflicts around the world as the global chorizo shortage gives way to one of bullets. The faces of Jesus and Mohammed smiling at each other appear on pizzas simultaneously in seventeen different countries.
Then 2014 dawns, and things start to get a whole lot weirder.