FASHION: CHAVS, CHUMPS AND CHERIE
By Maxine Frith
For us mere mortals, it is sometimes comforting to see that while wealth, beauty and fame may buy you luxury homes, A-list partners and global adulation, it does not save you from some truly almighty crimes against fashion. In fact, possession of a black Amex card can lead some people even further down the path of sartorial damnation than if they were simply confined to the wilder excesses of Top Shop.
The last year has seen the decline of boho fashion (its undisputed queen Sienna Miller turned womankind against her when she tried to kickstart a trend for leggings) and a return to a more womanly, glamorous style.
This subtle change appeared to pass Victoria Beckham by, as she continued to wear the ankle-length peasant skirts and cowboy hats that were soooo last year. If that wasn't enough, her husband was voted worst-dressed man of the year by GQ magazine, which said his style was "more chavvy than savvy". Mariah Carey may have made a full return to mental health and musical acclaim, but her fashion sense should surely be seriously questioned. Somewhere, there must be a six-year-old ballet dancer shivering in the cold after having her cardigan stolen by Miss Carey. We know that Cherie Blair likes a bargain, but surely she didn't need to resort to ripping up the Downing Street curtains ito get a new outfit? The Prime Minister's wife has consistently blundered throughout the year and has a watertight legal case for sacking her stylist. Oh. She's already done that.
In a year when even Colleen McLoughlin and Camilla Parker Bowles managed to rehabilitate themselves in the style stakes, a surprising number of celebrities still managed to get it utterly wrong. Glossing over the horrors of Jordan's wedding dress, lowlights included Madonna in a cropped leather jacket, granny pants and shin-high purple boots; Ashes star Kevin Pietersen trying to look grungy and Princess Beatrice's Teletubbies-inspired Christmas Day hatwear. But there was some good news - Elton John shocked the world with his under-stated "wedding" attire.
POLITICS: BLUNKETT AND OTHER BLUNDERERS
By Andy McSmith
Tony Blair's former director of communications, Alastair Campbell, may be good at verbal communication, but technology is his weak point. "Fuck off and cover something important you twats!", he wrote in an e-mail he accidentally sent to a BBC journalist. "Not very good at this e-mail Blackberry malarkey," he confessed in a follow-up message.
David Davis threw away a commanding lead in the Tory leadership election by not preparing properly for his conference speech. He lost the votes of countless Tory women by posing with two young female supporters wearing "It's DD for me" T-shirts. That saved David Cameron , who when asked whether he had dabbled with drugs, said: "I had a normal university experience" - universally interpreted as meaning "yes".
Charles Kennedy ought to have mugged up on his tax policies before an election conference in which he burbled: "You are talking in the region of £20,000, er ... yes. If you take a double income couple, £20,000 each, that's what you are talking about ... £40,000."
And David Blunkett ought to have checked the rules applying to former ministers who take jobs in the private sector. Had he gone through proper procedures, he would still be in the cabinet.
SCIENCE: STEM CELLS AND SATELLITES
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
It had been voted one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the year. Now the study into cloned human stem cells has been officially retracted, with the scientist involved admitting he lied and fabricated his data.
The ournal Science said it intends to delete from the scientific record work it published this year by the South Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University whose reputation has been ruined by an unfolding saga of lies and misdemeanours. "There is no question in our minds that the stem cell paper published on 19 May 2005 by the journal Science needs to be retracted and we are proceeding swiftly but appropriately in that direction," the journal said in a statement issued yesterday. Professor Hwang had claimed to have produced several lines of stem cells from cloned human embryos but an investigation by his own university found that the claims were false. He also admitted to using eggs from his female colleagues, following repeated denials to the contrary.
An equally spectacular blunder occurred in October when the £90m European Space Agency Cryosat satellite disappeared despite what a spokesman said was "a fantastic, successful" launch from Plesetsk in northern Russia.
MEDIA: 'BONKERS' BUERK AND REBEKAH WADES IN SPORT: LOSERS AND LOO BREAKS
By Ciar Byrne, Media Correspondent
The battle between the sexes provided ample fodder for inappropriate remarks and regrettable actions in the media in 2005, from male veterans carping about women in the industry to a female newspaper editor allegedly venting her spleen in an altogether more physical fashion.
Michael Buerk complained that men had been reduced to "unemployable sperm donors", particularly in broadcasting. The former newsreader claimed most of the BBC's top jobs were held by women, while in society at large, women's values were esteemed more highly than men's. His BBC colleague Anna Ford summed up the sentiments of many when she concluded: "He's bonkers. He's an old-fashioned chauvinist of the first order. Poor, miserable old bat."
The advertising guru, Neil French, was ebullient in his verdict on the female of the media species. The director at agency WPP was gagged by employers after he reportedly described women in the ad industry as " crap".
John Humphrys came under fire for a verbal faux pas after an after-dinner speech. The Today presenter was reprimanded by the BBC for airing his personal opinions, including the suggestion that some MPs "couldn't give a bugger whether they lie or not" and the description of Gordon Brown as "easily the most boring political interviewee I have ever had in my whole bloody life".
Newspaper columnist Rosie Millard laughed off the media maelstrom following her confession that she was a victim of middle-class debt, owing £40,000 on credit cards despite owning five properties. Emap was not amused, however, when Ofcom fined one of its radio stations, Manchester's Key 103, £125,000 over racist comments made by their phone-in presenter James Stannage.
The most inventive of hacks could not have made up the greatest howler of the last 12 months. The editor of The Sun, Rebekah Wade, whose paper has campaigned against domestic violence, spent a night in the cells after allegedly assaulting her husband, the EastEnders actor Ross Kemp. Earlier that evening, the couple had attended a party thrown by the PR expert Matthew Freud and his wife, Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Wade's boss. Rupert Murdoch himself just happened to be in town to witness his protégée's shame.
SPORT: LOSERS AND LOO BREAKS
By Oliver Duff
It was certainly a day to remember: Roger Loughran, 26, stood tall in the saddle of Central House and waved his whip at the packed grandstand, celebrating his first winner as a professional jockey. The problem was that his horse still had 80 yards to run. He had eased up too early, eventually finishing third.
If, in such a high-profile moment of humiliation, there can be any consolation for Loughran, it was that he was not alone in committing a sporting howler this year. Let's turn to the Aussie fast bowler Glenn McGrath, and his prediction on how Australia would fare in the Ashes: " I was saying 3-0 or 4-0 about 12 months ago, thinking there might be a bit of rain around. But with the weather as it is at the moment I have to say 5-0." Come the last Test at The Oval and Kevin Pietersen's masterful century to secure a 2-1 win for England, there were fans on surrounding rooftops chanting: "Five nil, five nil!"
And so to another man never afraid to say what is on his mind: the footballing hardcase Roy Keane, showing few signs of mellowing despite reaching his twilight years. Fuming after Manchester United capitulated 4-1 to Middlesbrough in October, the Irishman laid into his team-mates, telling Rio Ferdinand: "Just because you are paid £120,000 a week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham you think you are a superstar." Unfortunately for Keane, it was he who had become too big for his boots, and he left the club after twelve and a half years.
A quick mention must go to Arsenal's Gallic maestros Thierry Henry and Robert Pires for one of the oddest penalties in footballing history. Instead of calmly placing the ball in the net, Pires tried to pass it to his compatriot - a bad time to get a "numb leg" and miss the kick entirely. Result: no Arsenal goal, and the referee and opposing goalkeeper nearly crying with laughter.
In April, millions of television viewers were treated to the sight of Paula Radcliffe squatting for a toilet break in the London Marathon. "I think I need to apologise to the nation," she conceded.