Why I won’t be holding my breath for a happier 2012
It's a funny old business, opining on topical economic, political and social issues. Expressing knee-jerk reactions on weekly demand is an activity fraught with the dangers of producing commentary that is about as deep as a puddle and as subtle as a sledgehammer. Now, just three days away from facing the blank pages of a new chapter, isn't a bad time to look back on the validity and veracity of some hasty verdicts handed down to you each Thursday upon matters great and small.
I'll admit that I haven't exactly been the sunshine of your lives this past year. Every now and then I tried spreading a little happiness but, by and large, there hasn't been a great deal to laugh out loud about.
Things started cheerfully enough with the arrival of the first of a new generation of royals.
The queen's first great grandchild; 12th in line to the throne and named after a grassland eco system characterised by small or widely spaced trees. I rather took the Michael out of Savannah, born of the Princess Royal's son Peter and his wife Autumn.
Verdict? I'll stand by being a bit snooty. I know it's not going to happen but Queen Savannah I for heaven's sake; what would Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham have to say?
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It was not, of course, the only royal occasion of the year. Helping to keep me cheerful was an excuse to escape the happy hysteria of The Wedding by spending an idyllic spring day under cloudless blue skies and in the unbroken sunshine blessing the bride's father-in-law's back garden. While London sweated and waved paper Union Jacks we sat on the clifftops of the Pembrokeshire coastal path among a billion bluebells' silent clappers and sound bows swaying on invisible gudgeons atop a billion fragile towers.
Verdict? Good decision.
- 1 The areas where Covid rates have fallen the fastest since lockdown began
- 2 'Small number' of staff at town's Tesco test positive for Covid-19
- 3 ‘I cried so much’ - Mum-of-four on impact of whole family having Covid
- 4 'We're all shocked' - Butchers shop attacked by vandals
- 5 Shock as cannabis factory found in quiet Broads' village
- 6 Norwich Debenhams looks doomed as Boohoo to buy brand
- 7 Pretty thatched cafe on Broads up for sale for £75,000
- 8 Bus crashes into lorry in Norwich
- 9 Body discovered in Thetford Forest Park
- 10 Child groomer caught by seven paedophile hunter groups
Unfortunately, celebration wasn't the only cause of people coming together during 2011.
It is now a year since students took to the streets to protest about the imposition of university tuition fees. And since Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC handed down that draconian 32-month prison sentence to 18 year-old sixth-former Edward Woollard, on the basis that 'the public had a right to protection from violence' or, in Woollard's case, from the non-existent impact of a stupidly flung fire extinguisher. Edging towards serving half of two years and eight months to teach him a lesson, he'll probably be out soon with his life and prospects likely in ruins.
Verdict? A curse of bad consciences for turncoat Lib Dem MPs and the vindictive Judge Rivlin.
By March, it was time to march again. This time, 400,000 took to the streets of London in the March for the Alternative; a mixture of peaceful demonstration and more aggressive targeting of banks and ritzy retailers, lighting fires in the street and chucking missiles at police.
'Will the coalition government think again?' asked a news reporter. No government would change its strategy because of demonstrations of this kind, replied the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP. All the while, his government cheered on people lighting fires in the street and chucking missiles at police in protest against the unwanted rulers of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.
Verdict? By August, we all learned what unrestrained rioting was really like and for a night or two witnessed the close-up impact of a divided society. The downtrodden and disenfranchised faced those seeking revenge. The righteously indignant signed up to the government's shiny new e-petitions wherein they called for the Territorial Army to be rallied alongside permanently armed police officers and the withdrawal of benefits for rioters. A lunatic fringe went for the introduction of chain gangs and castration.
Talking of a divided society, Norwich become the home of the first of the pioneering free schools ostensibly introduced to benefit underprivileged families and their children. Verdict? Not a scintilla of public evidence appears to have been provided that rolls reflect that intention. On the contrary, we now hear talk of hard-up fee-paying private schools switching status so that recession-hit parents who thought it wise to separate their tender little darlings from the herd can hitherto continue doing so at public expense.
No review of 2011 would be complete without a dishonourable mention for our fetid banking industry. I duly recorded the champion of British business, CBI director-general John Cridland, telling us that it would be 'barking mad' to take action against them.
Verdict? So far, he got his wish.
For a bit of light relief, I later suggested that Master Cameron set aside his loony ideas about self-shaped, self determining, la-la land communities in which, I fantasised that Eric Pickles could be the Fat Controller of Thomas the Tank Engine's other-worldly Big Society island of Sodor.
Verdict? Call Me Dave has clearly taken to reading the EDP.
To further lift your spirits in the gloom, I whistled and groped around in the darkness of various resear-chers' basements to stitch together a tapestry of Mr(s) Average Norfolk. It turned out that we are old, white, overweight, Tory, James Blunt fans.
Verdict? All right, all right; I was only joking about James Blunt.
I'm sorry not to have painted a more beautiful picture all round really. 2012 may be better but I'm not holding my breath. Happy New Year.
•This article was first published on December 29, 2011.