The last twelve months have been rather unkind to the celebrities of the world. Or so the narrative goes. I’ve read a few statistical reports which do seem to suggest a slight uptick in tickers downing tools. Was 2016 a morbid aberation? Has the Grim Reaper been put on a commission only pay system? Or is 2016 the new norm?
I have a theory. It’s poorly researched (no research), based on limited data (tabloid news) and my own expertise (a vague hunch). But it seems logical to me. There might be some meat on the bones of my theory if someone bothered to look into it. It’s simply this. Pop culture exploded in the late 50s through to the early 80s. Assuming most stars found fame at some stage between their late teens and mid twenties, then these beloved icons are now reaching the favoured age brackets from which the reaper likes to harvest his crop. They’re all now in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
Sure, some of them seem to be going a bit young, but with the explosion of pop culture came the stresses of the paperazzi, vast wealth, easy access to drugs. It’s no surprise to me that the mortality of the modern superstar is less closely clustered around the age of three score and ten than is the norm. With lives of excess it seems only naturally that they may fall over either much earlier or much later than your average Joe.
If I’m right and 2016 is indeed the new norm, then this is a terrific time to get into the celebrity funeral business. Or the tacky dead celebrity souvenir business, perhaps. The canniest amongst you might run mortality algorithyms to predict which musicians will die soonest. Invest in shares in the right recording companies, and reap the rewards when sales rocket the moment their top sellers kick the bucket. Or, if you’re common like me, you could simply place a few wagers down the bookies. If you can find one to take the bet on.
Who am I betting on for 2017? I’ve given this some thought. Not a lot of thought, if truth be told. But enough to come up with a list of ten potential fatalities for the new year. Not that I wish death upon any of them. Quite the opposite. Well, for most of them, anyway. But. Well, a Dead Pool list isn’t much of a list unless you add some names to it. I know, it’s so tasteless, but there are consequences to what happened in 2016. Harbouring morbid thoughts is one of them. So here goes…
Prince Philip. Some people might be looking in the Queen’s direction. No chance. That old lady has at least another decade in her. But old Prince Philip? He’s 95 and quite frankly he looks a bit like the Grim Reaper’s sickly older brother. He’s spent the majority of his life walking ten yards behind her Majesty, but just for once he’ll get to lead the way. He’ll be delighted, I’m sure.
Paul Gascoigne. Poor old Gazza. Just twenty years ago he was the darling of English football. Today he is a struggling just to get through the day, preferably without launching a racial tirade at someone and then getting kicked down the stairs at a well todo hotel. Sadly, we are nearing that day when he doesn’t put up a big enough struggle to make it to midnight.
Rolf Harris. Once the nations favourite Aussie, the one the queen called on to host her jubilee celebrations. Now just another inmate being held at her Majesty’s pleasure. Just another former BBC celeb convicted of unpleasant acts with children. One just can’t even begin to imagine how much he must wish he’d never released a record called ‘Two Little Boys’. It can’t be easy making such an adjustment at the age of 84. His digeridoo won’t last long enough for him to see in 2018.
Keith Richards. Death will probably knock at the Jagger household first. But expect Mick to grass up his old buddy. Keith has been taking the piss out of the Grim Reaper for decades. But diaries can be changed and Mick can wait. He who laughs last, laughs loudest…
Charlie Sheen. Expect Keith to try pulling Mick’s trick, and grass up Charlie. It won’t work. He’ll take them both. Expect large crowds at both funerals. Mostly smack-heads hoping for a free fix from the fumes coming out of the crematoria chimneys.
Stephen Hawking. He’s actually probably already dead. Has been for years. He just programmed his computer to keep on churning out wise cracks about black holes and aliens for years to come, banking on the fact that a decade of decomposition wouldn’t actually be noticeable given the state he was in to start with. This is the year his best gag gets rumbled.
Clive Dunn. According to viral posts on Facebook, he died in 2012. And 2013. Again in 2014 and 2015. He died again last year. Don’t expect this year to be any different.
Meatloaf. The guy has a diet that would do Mr Creosote proud. Expect similar results. That’s a story easy to splash over the front pages.
Miley Cyrus. If the will of the people can propel Trump into the White House and the UK out of the EU then surely it can gently nudge Miley Cyrus towards an early grave. Justin Bieber should be equally concerned.
Donald Trump. The sensible money might well be on Bush the Elder. But on this side of the pond, we’re betting with our hearts. It’s been more than 50 years since a US president died in office. Like a San Fran earthquake, a Liverpool title win or a European war, we’re overdue one. The chap is so thin skinned that it’s most likely he’ll turn on Twitter one night, go into an apoplectic rage and keel over from a fatal stroke. But I’m hoping he’ll go Elvis style, on the toilet. The press statement will be awesome. We’ll be informed of what a tremendous turd Donald did. We won’t believe how big it was. We’ll be in fits of giggles that it killed him, though.
Let’s hope I’m hopelessly wrong though, and that 2017 goes easy on our rich and famous chums around the world. More to the point, I hope y’all make it safely through 2017, finishing the year happier, wealthier and more fulfilled than you started. Although any two out of the three will do just fine. That is what progress is all about. Happy New Year.