The Third Leader: And now for the good news...

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The Independent Online

Good day to you. As we stand, sit or slump suspended in that no person's time between the old year and the new, I thought it might be instructive, and consistent with this space's implacably cheery attitude, to take some "positives" from the past 12 months and look boldly forward to the next.

Past: many people, and, shamefully, some commentators, affect to detect little that is new and surprising in our daily events and happenings, a view that has its persuasions on the second day of turkey sandwiches. So, in an attempt to underline Mr Frank Capra's famous and seasonal view that it is indeed a wonderful life, I would remind you of just some of the remarkable topics considered here in 2006:

Finnish opera singer knocked off bicycle by squirrel; mice on equivalent of 100 bottles of red wine a day feel great; casino owner puts elbow through own $75m Picasso; message in bottle travels from Moray Firth to New Zealand in seven weeks; Romany living in caravan by side of A127 scores winning goal against Manchester United; komodo dragon conceives immaculately; vultures spotted in Richmond Park, Norfolk, Snowdonia, Bodmin Moor and the Beddington sewage farm near Croydon; Englebert Humperdinck's 70th birthday.

Future: and, to inspire your new year, here are three quotations that have moved me: "A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree" - Spike Milligan. "If you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet, they're about to announce the lottery numbers" - Homer Simpson. "If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber" - Albert Einstein.