BACK in 1996, Tony Blair was the hippest young politician in the country and John Major didn’t know what he was doing. Paul Gascoigne’s drinking habits were heroic and the Three Lions (on his shirt) shoulder-barged Gina G’s Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit masterpiece off the top of the UK charts. Princess Diana was still fighting the good fight while Noel and Liam Gallagher claimed putting cocaine on their cornflakes was the secret of their success. Nicholas Cage was named the Best Actor at the 68th Academy Awards and Mel Gibson was the Best Director. The Samaritans set up a special helpline for suicidal Take That fans following the band’s break-up, but it was the arrival of The Spice Girls that should really be credited for easing the heartache. Linford Christie said a sad goodbye to Olympic competition when he was disqualified in the 100-metre final for two false starts. Ewan McGregor, meanwhile, shaved his head and sprinted through the streets of Edinburgh as Trainspotting posters became the wallpaper of choice for students up and down the country.
Nigel Benn lost three fights in a row and he retired.
Twenty-three years ago. A lifetime ago. A time before the internet and social media dominated everyone’s existences. A better time? Maybe. Maybe not. There were still bombs going off and murders and shootings. In truth, the ageing process steals any real sense of perspective when it comes to comparing yesterday with today. Optimism was rife in 1996, though. For a short time, almost anything seemed possible.