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

Senior Data Warehouse Developer - (Oracle, PL/SQL, ETL, OLAP, B

£65000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in fina...

Deputy Education Manager

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Deputy Education Manager (permanent ...

Science Teacher Urgently required for October start

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

We should applaud Mary Berry for her bold views on assisted dying

Chloe Hamilton
Lightning over central London as major storms kept the city awake overnight  

The less we hear about a project to predict the unexpected, the better

Oliver Wright
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering