So 2023 is on its way out, and it has been a year of profound changes. For one thing, I landed a job, and it kept me busy all year. It’s been a year of struggles for people, and you can tell by the topics of conversations.

When there is a time of prosperity, people speak about fun things – plans for the summer holidays, new clothes, new TV shows, public events like my home city’s regular food and music festivals, and movies – either streamed, or in actual cinemas.

Cinemas are feeling the pinch. You can’t draw in the crowds so much when you have a huge OLED and speakers at home and a sub to Netflix.

But we’re not living in a time of prosperity, and the general talk is about anything else but fun. The topics of conversation are the rising cost of living, the rich taking the poor for granted and laughing at the suffering of the masses, and how much better off they are without televisions (well, at least televisions receiving broadcasts – those huge TV screens are fantastic for video games).

Popular Entertainment

I didn’t see much TV -just reruns, recordings of old shows, and whatever I could get off Youtube, Dailymotion, and Vimeo. So don’t ask me who won Strictly, or that thing with the celebs in Australia.

I did manage to see one highlight – the three Doctor Who anniversary specials to mark the 60thanniversary of the show, with Russell T Davies at the helm again. Nice to see Ncuti Gatwa make his debut as The Doctor. Welcome to the show, Ncuti.

Video Games

This year did see some amazing new games. We had The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom, Baldur’s Gate 3, Diablo 4, Fallout, and most of all Starfield.

Plenty to keep people occupied at night.

Sports

The most amazing thing happened to my home town, now my home city, of Wrexham in 2023. This was the year this little city made it onto the world map, and it was thanks to two things: our soccer team, and its owners making a little documentary series called Welcome to Wrexham which made us bigger than tumblr’s Goncharov movie.

Let’s go back to last year. 2022 was the year Wrexham became a city, one of the last things Queen Elizabeth II did. Around that time, Wrexham AFC was bought up by Ryan “Detective Pikachu” Reynolds and Rob McElhenny, two Hollywood movie stars. In a move which seems like something straight out of a Hollywood movie, they led a failing, flailing small town football team to victory in 2023.

2nd May was Wrexham’s day, as the team and the managers paraded on a tour bus through the centre of town, with rows of cheering fans on either side, myself among them. I never thought I’d find myself cheering on a soccer team, let alone my home town’s – I have spent my life in a state of indifference to sporting events – but this felt like a deserved victory, and it was a much-needed celebration.

Festivals

The city’s festivals this year kept things local. Wrexfest 2023 focused on the best new indy music in the region, our Food Festival showcased local food providers, and we had a comedy festival to raise spirits through laughter.

The Autumn brought in one of Wrexham’s most famous events, Voicebox – our open mic poetry event. Yes, we do culture in Wrexham. Pick your jaw up off the floor. We’re not all pie, chips, and beer.

World Events

The biggest world events were given little coverage in local news. But they did make it to the workplace as topics of discussion.

We saw the biggest strike in television history, as SAG-AFTRA and the WGA took to the protest lines against the clauses in contracts being foisted on them by the studios, which effectively took the rights to royalties away from actors and employees, and basically took away their rights to own their own faces and voices, allowing the studios to use their likenesses forever.

They went on strike to stop the studios using AI to generate future movies, shows, cartoon series, without any right to recourse of recompense to the actors whose faces were stolen.

Over here, we had strikes of our own. Doctors and nurses went on strike to save the NHS; in Wales, sanitation workers went on strike in parts of our country, including here in Wrexham, for weeks, demanding fair pay.

They have a point.

One event, early this year, may have been overlooked by the mainstream media. It has to do with tabletop roleplaying games, the Dungeons & Dragons stuff. The owners of D&D decided to issue a new Open Game Licence contract which, in effect, stiffed third party game publishers in the same kind of way as the Hollywood studio contracts. The gamers did not like this, and as a result we now have a new global Open Roleplaying Game Creative Licence (ORC for short) which is truly open to all roleplaying games, D&D and otherwise.

It is with a staggering sense of irony that one of the big fantasy movie releases in 2023 was titled Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves.

But it’s not all been fun and popcorn. The chatter in the back room at work is true. The world has indeed become a grimmer place in 2023. Democracy has been falling back to encroaching fascism globally, from the ousting of democratically-elected governments in an epidemic of coups-d’etat in Africa, to military occupations in Nagorno-Karabakh right through to the criminal actions in Gaza and throughout Palestine.

One of my colleagues at work is a flight organiser, with connections to the commercial airline industry from her previous employment in the airlines. This summer, she spoke of her contacts’ worries about fleets of planes having to be grounded, because the tarmac on the runways of airports was beginning to melt in the heat.

So yes, global warming is real. And it’s still the most important topic of all. After all, if this planet burns, what Israel and Russia are doing, and our little victories and festivals here in the city of Wrexham, won’t mean a thing.

Merry Christmas, everybody. Let’s do something in 2024 to bring us back from the brink.


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