Charles Nevin: My message of hope for the new year

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The Independent Online

Might I also convey to you, no matter how you chose to spend last night, the traditional and increasingly hopeful wish of a happy new year? The more sensible, of course, will have ushered in 2007 by taking the chance to listen again to that interesting programme about Mozart and his contemporaries on Radio 3. Others may well now be regretting that they did not afford themselves of the opportunity.

It is with the latter that my sympathy and inclinations lie. My approach to the commencement of a new year is adapted from Nietzsche's view that a certain amount of suffering abets appreciation. You will also be familiar with Mr Dean Martin's dismissal of the anti-climactic nature of the non-celebrant approach since one's condition upon waking is "the best you're going to feel all day". I believe, too, that Mr Andrew Motion is so convinced his finest work is achieved when he's feeling slightly under par that he takes one of those hot aspirin and lemon drinks in an attempt to mimic the condition.

Let us all, therefore, press on. And as it is equally traditional on this day to look ahead, I thought I would fulfil this newspaper's founding and eponymous remit by looking backwards. This is because it seems simple good manners to thank those people whose acts have sustained that Martinesque message of hope which is this column's guiding spirit.

So, thank you to the following for their inspiration in 2006: Mr Lembit Opik; Mr Guy Goma; Mr Robin Gibb and his wife, Dwina, and friends; Mr Nick Thompson, British world record holder for the most baked beans consumed in three minutes; Mr Archie Drake, the late British opera singer who settled in Seattle and danced the fandango to Mozart at the age of 80; Mr Grigory Chausovsky, inventor of the variable tempo musical condom; the two judges and the Brazilian cleaner; and, naturally, the Bishop of Southwark.

It is the likes of these who provide relief to the general grimness, who contribute manfully - and it is mostly men, isn't it? - to what that earlier Mr Bennett, Arnold, identified as "the great cause of cheering us all up".

And such is the need that I hope you will join me in calling for volunteers to ensure at least one piece of cheering news a month. Remember, though, there are only so many Lib Dem MPs, and that the holder of the position of Deputy Prime Minister is set to change.

January: Are you a Bishop? Celebrity Big Brother starts on Wednesday.

February: Are you a Cabinet minister? Do you have a horse? The Cottesmore is meeting at Nether Broughton on the 17th. March: Are you a Bishop? Have you met Tom Cruise?

April: Do you like baked beans? May: Lembit, the Eurovision Song Contest is in Helsinki on the 12th. June: Are you Tim Henman? The first day is the 25th.

July: Are you the Home Secretary? Has your passport expired?

August: Are you an Arctic Monkey? Do you have a villa?

September: Are you a Bishop? The Munich Beer Festival is on the 22nd.

October: Are you a Booker Prize nominee? Do you have an unacknowledged debt to Pp 141-143 of Shock for The Secret Seven?

November: Tony Benn? Have you met Paris Hilton?

December: The Irish Embassy is on 020 7235 2171.

Top six we don't want in 2007

Traditionally, this is the day when I make submissions about aspects of last year we've had enough of. I'm thinking of such phenomena as neo-colonial blunderings, self-picketing Cabinet ministers, meaningless apologies, divorcing celebrities, embarrassing e-mails globally circulated, pointless podcasts, vacuous video downloads, inquiries by Lord Stevens, endless carping at decent people selflessly dedicated to protecting our health and safety, cheap flights, dear trains, and Little Britain impressions. These are my Top Six We Don't Want In Seven: 1. This government's obsessive compulsive legislating disorder. 2. This government's obsessive compulsive intrusiveness disorder. 3. Shane Warne. 4. People who don't indicate at roundabouts. 5. Gratuitous, frequent use of photos of Kate Moss, left. 6. They don't start until 2012, you know. Enough, already!

* This is also the moment when pundits, drawing on their experience, acuity and impressive number of important contacts in every significant walk of life, are contractually obliged to make their predictions for 2007. Ready? 1. There will be a change of prime minister. 2. There will be targets. 3. And initiatives. 4. There will be real achievements. 5. But probably not in targets, initiatives, international football, rugby or cricket. 6. There will be surveys. 7. And research. 8. Some of the findings will not surprise you. 9. A lot of them will be into red wine. 10. You will tread in something, the light bulb will not be the right fitting, when you look for something it will not be in the last place you put it, you will regret not reading the instructions first, you'll get no thanks, and you will talk to, and often shout loudly at, a piece of electronic machinery. And, above all, remember that whatever happens there will be no justice in it. Chins up!

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