OPINION: Skip forward 12 months - here are 2022's Norfolk highlights

Keith Skipper as fortune teller Sceptic Skip

Keith Skipper as fortune teller Sceptic Skip - Credit: Archant

As another challenging chapter beckons, Sceptic Skip, self-styled Cromer seer, is back to share the only authentic home-grown prognostications untainted by prejudice or pressures dressed up as promises .

Norfolk’s answer to Cassandra, Nostradamus and Mother Shipton presents exclusive predictions, banking again on the old adage that people don’t always believe everything they read – bur repeat it just to be on the safe side.

With no grants from the Arts Council or Poppyland Soothsayers’ Association, he admits it’s tougher than usual to find scope and hope for confident forecasting in these breathtakingly ominous times .

However, an enduring reputation built on parochial fervour and a keen eye and ear for the unorthodox leaves him in prime position to peer into an uncertain future from his main look-out on the north face of Beeston Bump …

JANUARY: Norfolk County Council launches “a bold new levelling-up” programme with efforts to close blatant “North-South divide” in the county. Blakeney is twinned with Gissing while Cley parish councillors organise fact-finding visit to Carleton Rode. A major windfarm is proposed for damper spots in and around Blo’ Norton . Northwold to seek closer links with Southwold if Suffolk agrees it would broaden outlooks at either end while boosting coastal tourism and tree-blessed holiday projects in Breckland.

FEBRUARY: Clear evidence we are in for another round of swingeing cuts. Great Snoring is renamed Occasional Yawning, Seething turns into Slightly Irritable, Melton Constable is reduced to Cut-out Police Community Support Officer and Mileham becomes Four Hundred Metres. Strong rumours Castle Rising is going underground, Quidenham could soon be worth just five bob and Winfarthing likely to face negative equity.

MARCH: More pressure to scrap controversial Norwich Western Link road project follows discovery of extremely rare colony of lesser-spotted species of solace-seeking pedestrians, believed to be descendants of Georgian clergyman Parson James Woodforde’s congregation at Weston Longville. Famous for his diary on local life beyond the bustle of Norwich, he preached many sermons on the text: “Blessed are they who find praise and wonder in walking quiet lanes and lokes.”

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APRIL: Enterprising Scout troops across Norfolk earn warm praise from government ministers and National Health Service leaders by playing a key role in supporting the latest booster vaccination campaign. They transform their annual fundraising mission into “Bob-A-Jab Week” to help out at a host of walk-in clinics and centres by reminding all recipients to “Be Prepared!,”

MAY: Housing market picking up. First-time buyers seen in Burnham Deepdale and Titchwell. Survey by CHELSEA - Cheaper Homes Encouraged by Local Society of Estate Agents – hints that pockets of rural deprivation in some parts of Norfolk means being unable to buy William Morris wallpaper and some brands of olive oil at the village shop.

JUNE: “Been there,. Done that, Can’t Remember” … slogan spotted on senior citizen’s shirt in Cromer. Bumper tourist season warming up. Elephant Experience theme park at West Runton already voted the area’s best new attraction, complete with trumpeting bays billed as “alternative hunting” where you form your own tusk force. Queues for entry start at Wells.

Plenty of fresh hurdles to clear as a new year unfolds

Plenty of fresh hurdles to clear as a new year unfolds - Credit: Trevor Allen

JULY: Renewed speculation about Yarmouth and Lowestoft pooling resources for another bid to be awarded city status. Argument breaks out over whether to use the name Yartoft or Lowesmouth. Gorleston and Oulton Broad declare full independence while Banksy declares he’s off to make his summer mark on Gibraltar very shortly.

AUGUST: Worrying signs of rising sea levels caused by climate change along the north Norfolk coast. Aylsham inshore lifeboat launched twice in a fortnight. North Walsham lighthouse goes digital. Reepham coastguards seek more recruits. Sidestrand offered a bypass in return for permission to build a “garden retreat” of 500 clifftop retirement homes and elastic stocking factory. Parish council says the whole idea is best suited to the Lost Village of Understrand.

SEPTEMBER: Government looking favourably on bids to dig for oil at Outwell and Three Holes, and for natural gas at Guestwick. But environmentally-minded ministers draw the line at fracking or peat-digging on the Broads as it “clearly goes against all scientific advice and could harm the local economy.” Motion to sell off Norfolk County Hall at Martineau Lane for student flats to help close a massive budget deficit is defeated on casting vote of caretaker.

OCTOBER: Eagerly-awaited Ofsted report on Norfolks smallest village schools says half the children lag behind in their reading and find difficulty in writing their names while the other three-quarters can’t add up. One boy thought a fortification was two twentifications. Another asked what came at the end of a sentence answered: “An appeal.”

NOVEMBER: BBC Look East hits the ratings jackpot with rare 1920s footage from the lost village of Strictly-Come-Darning. This was home to the now-defunct Make-do-and-Mend Movement. Norfolk Wildlife Trust reports record temperatures for this time of year on some of their nature reserves with the mercury and birdsong rising rapidly at twilight time. A spokesman says “This could be the start of an era of gloamin’ warbling.”

DECEMBER: Much quieter run-up to Christmas than usual as all festive lights have been switched on in September and October. Local chambers of trade suggest they should be switched on again at start of this month to remind people what this time of year is really all about. Most developers call a seasonal truce – but the Greater Norwich Partnership takes its planning drive into Ipswich when no-one is looking.