Alex Massie

That was the year that was 2007

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Most Depressing Political Argument of the Year: Whether the United States should be in the business of torturing people or not.

Opera: Washington National Opera's superb production of Janacek's Jenufa was the operatic highlight of the year for me. Terrificly dark and pitiless and gloomy: just the sort of emotionally knackering experience you want from a night out.

Book of the Year: Well, the 144th edition of Wisden did not disappoint: 1664 pages of cricketing goodness and an annual treat to be cherished. Among other books published this year: John Robb's Brave New War was a disturbing highlight. Brian Doherty's history of the American libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism, is too long and gets bogged down in internecine minutiae at times but it's still packed with goodies and is a bracing, necessary reminder that there's more to life than the Elephant and the Donkey. 

Literary Discovery: 2007 was the year I first read anything by Philip K Dick.

Music: my favourite album this year was Tinawiren's Aman Iman: Water is Life. Who knew Tuareg blues could be so damned cool?

Best TV: I only got around to watching series 2 and 3 of The Wire this year. Best. Television. Drama. Ever.

Biggest TV disappointment: Friday Night Lights. The second series was awful. Also: why won't BBC America show the special episodes of The Thick of It?

Theatre: Gregory Burke's Black Watch proved it could travel to the United States and appeal to American audiences as well as British ones. A triumph.

Tedious Policy Madness: America's war on online gambling. Also, the "War on Drugs" continues.

Fraud of the Year: Mitt Romney, obviously.

Ridiculous Journalistic Brouhaha: the idea that Scott Beauchamp's stories demonstrated that The New Republic a) hates America and b) wats to see US troops in Iraq defeated.

Sport:  France 0 Scotland 1 in Paris, courtesy of James McFadden's wonder-strike was amazing. The highlights of the Rugby Word Cup were France's victory over New Zealand in the quarter-finals: a proper, bloody, bruising, old-fashioned scrap and, secondly, Argentina's entirely-deserved success. On the western side of the atlantic, Michigan 38 Notre Dame 0 is a scoreline that never grows old.

Sporting Regrets: I missed Raymond van Barneveld's epic triumph against Phil "The Power" Taylor in the final of the PDC World Darts Championship. Magic darts at their very best, by all accounts. Here's hoping for a rematch on January 1st 2008. Also: the mismanagement of Heart of Midlothian continues as the club hurtles towards disaster. A horror show.

Best film: Technically it came out in 2006, but Pan's Labyrinth was the best movie I saw in 2007. (Still haven't seen No Country for Old Men or There Will be Blood however).

Most Pleasing Political Development: the SNP's triumph in the Scottish parliamentary elections. At last interesting times return north of the border! Also the alternative was perpetual misrule by the intellectually-stagnant Scottish Labour Party and their pygmy pals in the Liberal Democrats.

Other Most Pleasing Political Development: the disaster that is Gordon Browns ministry. For a few weeks it looked as though he would confound my long-held and confident prediction that he'd be a terrible Prime Minister. Happily the sky did not in fact fall and normality returned as Brown limps into the new year stripped of his authority and credibility. Thank god for that.

Biggest Foreign Policy Development: The diminished likelihood of a US attack on Iran.

Oddest political development: Ron Paul, obviously.

Pleasing Election Results (non-Scotland edition): Nicolas Sarkozy wins and John Howard loses.

Most Surprising Realisation: Facebook is kinda cool. And useful!

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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