THE Chinese name for 2022 was ‘Year of the Tiger’. Is this because it bites and mauls, causing havoc if let loose in public? Other suitable names could have been ‘Year of the Warthog’ or ‘Year of la Locura’.
From political chaos to war, riots, drought, floods, and squabbles on social media, there was never a “dull” moment in the year we are just departing.
The Olive Press rounds up the top news stories and events – some of which we’d rather forget.
The world reopens
The most positive element of 2022 was the lifting of Covid restrictions. Making it easy to visit our relatives in Inglaterra, the British government axed its pesky passenger locator forms in March, while Spain stopped asking for Covid vaccine certificates in October.
In Spain, our beloved town fiestas returned, leading to “mucha vida social”.
Residents of China had the biggest “win” re Covid in early December. After rioting against their government’s draconian restrictions, the “zero Covid tolerance” policy has changed to “let it run wild” – leaving other countries to worry about new variants flying into their airports. For now, however, Covid is supposedly on the back burner.
Unless you live in a cave with no WiFi, you’d notice that the UK had a turbulent year in politics. As the country swung into January with Covid infections still high, the Tory handling of the health crisis was rocked by the “Partygate” scandal.
While normal citizens weren’t allowed to visit their dying relatives, Boris and his cabinet whooped it up at “work meetings” – featuring wine, cheese and cake. Boris was investigated for 12 illegal gatherings and was later fined by the Metropolitan Police.
This political scandal was only rivalled by Trump and his attempted January 6 insurrection at Capitol Hill. Here, some Cosmic Right types, including a self-styled “Qanon bison”, tried to start a coup. They were arrested and Joe Biden was successfully inaugurated on January 20. This has dogged Trump ever since.
With Trump no longer a world leader, would tussle-haired Boris be next? After some additional sexual harassment scandals, and his ex-advisor – Dominic Cummings – dishing the dirt, the UK political bubble burst in July. Over 50 ministers resigned from the cabinet, forcing Boris to step down.
A very dull leadership contest was won by Lizz Truss. She created an infamous “mini-budget” that applied “student economics” to the UK, causing the City to lose confidence and the Pound to tank. Brits in Spain nervously eyed the exchange rate.
In one of 2022’s funniest moments, a “Lettuce versus Liz” contest was live streamed by the Daily Star. Who would last the longest? Amazingly, the lettuce won.
Liz held office for just 50 days – Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister. Jeremy Hunt was wheeled in as Chancellor to save the economy and the GPB EUR exchange rate recovered. We soon had Rishi Sunak as the year’s third PM, leading to much eye-rolling.
British royalty and the Queen’s death
A huge global event occurred when Queen Elizabeth died on September 8, aged 96. She was the UK’s longest serving monarch and was well respected. Britain announced an official 10 days of mourning, which not everyone appreciated.
One notable event was “The Queue”, with Brits waiting over 24hrs to walk past the Queen lying in state in her coffin at Westminster Hall and bid farewell. Some eccentric types left marmalade sandwiches in public places because the Queen liked Paddington Bear.
Prince Andrew caused controversy by attending the Queen’s funeral, after his March payoff to Virginia Giuffre over the sordid Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell affair. The disgraced royal was made to wear civilian clothes, not his military uniform.
The Queen’s death coincided with Gibraltar International Day, turning the planned annual celebration on “The Rock” into a sedate occasion.
King Charles III became ruling monarch. The coronation takes place in May 2023. His Christmas Day speech on the BBC attracted unrivalled viewing figures.
2022 was also the year when ex-royal couple, Harry and Meghan, made a Netflix documentary about their problems with the paparazzi and “the institution” (Bucking Palace). This was the streaming service’s most watched series of 2022.
War in Ukraine
Affecting the whole world, the biggest crisis of 2022 was the war in Ukraine, which started on February 24 and is now on its 401st day.
Vladamir Putin clearly expected to overcome his target within a couple of weeks but was misguided. Ukraine’s little-known head of state, Volodymyr Zelensky, became popular worldwide, and remains stoical against the Russians. The invading forces have committed atrocities against civilians, chemical warfare threats, and risky behaviour around nuclear power. Zelensky says his country will “endure the winter”, despite all the destruction.
Since the war started, Spain has homed 150,000 refugees from Ukraine. The Spanish government is passing laws to help migrants and asylum seekers join society. This is a better than the UK’s approach to refugees, leaving them to wander round London in flip flops or catching dysentery in the Manston detention centre.
Cost of living crisis
People were gob smacked at our reliance on oil, gas and grain from Russia and Ukraine. Supply issues quickly caused a cost-of-living crisis.
The price of carburantes at the pumps in Spain rose to over 2e a litre, causing lorry drivers to strike in March. The Spanish government subsided fuel by 20 cents a litre. PM Pedro Sanchez has recently announced that the fuel subsidy is ending, but he’s cutting VAT on vital foods.
The cost of la luz reached historic highs in the UK and Spain. National supplier, Endesa, introduced daytime tariff bands, with higher costs at peak times. People chose to do their household laundry at midnight, trying to sleep with the lavadora shaking. In the UK, some people are choosing “heating or eating”.
With inflation rising, 2022 saw strikes over pay and conditions hitting transport, airlines, and other sectors.
The Ryanair and Easyjet summer strikes affected some people’s travel plans, although the Spanish government insisted that staff maintain minimum service levels. Ryanair, Vueling, and Air Nostrum are now striking into January 2023.
The Covid-free travel era might not be as much “fun” as it seemed…
Brexit is the gift that keeps on giving. Exports from Britain are falling, and it’s the only G7 country with a smaller economy than before the pandemic.
All year, expats have complained about “excessive” duties on parcels from the UK. With no customs union, many items get stuck at the Madrid customs centre – possibly never to be seen again.
Some Brits’ saw their holiday plans ruined because they didn’t have six months remaining on their British passport – a new rule after Brexit – and were denied boarding.
British motorists in Spain, resident for over six months, were also affected. A lack of government agreement over swapping UK driving licenses for Spanish ones saw many expats banned from the wheel from May 1. The Olive Press launched a campaign to help them.
2022 was another year where the world was burning, with widespread heatwaves and forest fires. Granada had its biggest fire in a decade that destroyed 5,000 hectares near Las Guajares. INFOCA, Spain’s fire fighting force, was kept busy.
The climate change summit, COP27, took place in Egypt in early November. It was attended by 35,000 people including 100 heads of state. Britain’s Rishi Sunak caused a stir by dithering over attending, with Boris visiting in a personal capacity on a budget flight. The delegates agreed to help developing countries.
Right wing Brazil president, Jair Bolsonaro, was thankfully ousted in October, before he could chop down any more rainforest. On a less fortunate note, the UK is trying to open a coalmine in Cumbria.
After months of drought emptying Spain’s reservoirs, with some in Almeria dipping to 7%, the week following December 12 brought biblical rain, causing widespread flooding. 2023 the ‘Year of the Water Rabbit’, so let’s hope it lives up to its name.
Christmas 2022 saw Spain basking at spring temperatures, while parts of America had a snowstorm so severe that it killed people. Trump predictably popped up to say, “what happened to global warming”?
We’re leaving behind an iffy year for human rights. Women everywhere were outraged by the June overturning of the US ‘Roe v Wade’ bill, which guarantees American’s abortion rights. These were soon removed in 13 states and restricted in others. Remind you of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?
Iran and Afghanistan have both been lambasted for their approach to women.
Meanwhile, Spain has seen controversy over the “solo si es si” law change, intended to make sexual assault sentencing tougher. Instead, it saw some rapists walk free from jail early, including a member of the infamous manada (wolf pack). There’s now a bunfight over whether Irene Montero, Spain’s minister of equality, presided over a badly worded bill, or whether Spain’s judges (half of whom are female) are machista. Watch this space.
The World Cup
At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the human rights issues sometimes eclipsed the football. Common themes were Qatar’s ill-treatment of women, its LGBT population, and migrant workers – 6,500 of whom died. FIFA had reportedly accepted bribes from Qatar officials.
During the event, the Iranian team refused to sing its own national anthem over the treatment of women at home.
As an ugly finale, riots occurred in France after the match with Morocco.
Despite the distractions, millions of people tuned in to the actual sport. Many gathered in Spanish bars to see big screen TV matches – although Spain was knocked out by Morocco.
Social media and TV
The popular social network, Twitter, “went to seed” when Elon Musk bought it in late October. He sacked 80% of the staff, including content moderators. He then installed beds in the headquarters, so the remaining workers could be “hardcore”. He threatened to reinstate Trump (who thankfully declined). Sadly, conspiracy theorists hail Musk as their new hero. Twitter users have recently voted that someone else should manage the platform.
In 2022, the top search term on Google was “Wordle”. Johnny Depp was the most searched-for celeb, because of the debacle of a court case with Amber Heard.
An ex-kickboxing champion called Andrew Tate – a gun-toting, cigar-smoking friend of far-right figureheads – became famous on TikTok for his machista attitude. He was arrested in late December for human trafficking. This came directly after a unfortunate spat with Greta Thunberg, who outwitted him. More on this soon.
Remaining with the passive aggressive – or just plain aggressive – Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the Oscar’s was a notable moment in “entertainment”.
A huge streaming success of the year was ‘The White Lotus’ on HBO Max. A brilliant concept in murder mystery, this gave viewers a welcome escape from the worrying things happening around the world – albeit for a few hours. And who could blame them!
Five of the wackiest New Year’s traditions from around Europe
Bank holidays in Spain 2022 – full list of dates for every autonomous community
Be lucky! Maximise your luck for 2023 by following these New Year’s traditions from Spain