Farewell 2012, the year Britain found its confidence

We may not have known it, but we are a confident nation

Share
Related Topics

Another year over, and, as John Lennon didn't quite say, what have we learned? For many of us, as we greet 2013 with a headache, nausea, a vague recollection of doing something inappropriate and a dry throat (Thirsty? You obviously didn't drink enough last night), the first piece of wisdom might have something to do with abstinence.

A new year, a new alcohol regime. A few of my friends usually give up drinking for the whole of January, some practise one week on, one week off for the whole year, and others, in the wake of New Year's Eve piled on to Christmas over-indulgence, vow never to take another drop.

The only thing I have learned through a long – and not noticeably successful – relationship with alcohol is this: don't decide anything when you're hungover. Easy to make pledges then, but you won't keep them, and that's no way to treat your self-esteem. The 2nd of January, when you're in the full flush of the morning after the morning after, is the time to make life decisions. At this stage of the game, I have largely given up giving up, so the passage from year to another is little more than a notch on the calendar to me. I suppose it's logical that, the older one gets, more time is spent is looking backward, rather than forward.

So, to return to the opening proposition: what did 2012 teach me? For a start, I found out that washing cashmere jumpers in baby shampoo works an absolute treat. I realise that this may not be an epoch-defining discovery, but it certainly raised my quality of life, and I pass on this tiny piece of advice in a spirit of altruism. Oh yes, Spirit of Altruism. Also very good for cleaning one's conscience.

But 2012 was a year for big thoughts, inspired by events of overweening collective experience. And the big question that remains: did the Olympic Games, the Paralympics, and the Diamond Jubilee before them, mean anything in a profound sense? Were these events anything more than a flag-waving break from our lives of austerity? Or did they fundamentally change the way we think, or how we interact as a society?

Sporting success, and the national pride it engenders, is transitory, and while the memories of Jess Ennis's gold, or even of Madness on the roof of Buck House, may remain with us for some time, they are only that: memories. But whatever the legacy in terms of bricks and mortar, the Olympics did alter a couple perceptions, possibly for ever.

We may not have known it, but we are a confident people, confident enough to stage an opening ceremony that scores political points, that takes the mickey out of ourselves, and that parades the wealth and depth of our culture. And we are more at ease with the polyglot nature of our nation, the true of expression of which came when we cheered and roared and wept as a man born in Somalia took gold in a British vest. For these reasons alone, 2012 may be considered a good year. As for 2013... cheers! .

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine