Leading article: Everyone’s a winner

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The Independent Online

Here you are, ready for next year or the year after that: your cut-out-and-keep guide to summer. 1. The United Kingdom, or one of its constituent nations, will experience sporting disappointment. 2. The weather will be hot, cold, wet or dry. 3. The Independent on Sunday will publish a list of reasons to be cheerful, and a leading article enjoining a youthful spirit of uplift upon its readers.

So, yes, it was a shame that England did not play well enough against Germany in the World Cup. It was a pity that Ghana, to whom many Britons transferred their affections on the grounds that they are (a) plucky and (b) from the same continent as the host nation, lost on penalties. It is a pity, too, that no one has yet been able to devise a better way to resolve a tie in the beautiful game, but we are in danger here of straying too deep into the slough of despond.

And it was unfortunate that Tim Henman, or whatever he is called this year, progressed no farther than the round to which he progressed.

But there are compensations, diversions and other things in life, to which we provide a full guide on pages 8 and 9.

One good thing to come out of the World Cup is that we have finally learnt to love Germany and Argentina – well, almost. Call us mindless optimists if you will, but it is possible that sporting events in future might be viewed through something other than a narrow xenophobic prism.

And if we finally come to terms with the fact that just because a sport was invented or popularised in this country does not mean that we expect to be best at it, that would be no bad thing either. They do not play much cricket in Germany. A side benefit is that we may never see the headline "England expects ..." in a British newspaper ever again.

In any case, there are other sports. The Gaelic football match between Kerry and Limerick this afternoon promises to be a fine contest of sporting excellence. Some of us could even take part in sport, although not in the Kerry-Limerick game, obviously.

And there are other entertainments. Who is not looking forward to Toy Story 3 and Shrek 4, or, possibly, to the less derivative cultural delights previewed on our critics' pages? Who is not enjoying the heatwave and the bumper year for Britain's blooms?

Summer is time to rediscover the joys of being outdoors, communing with nature rather than the internet. Reports from the outside world reach this office telling of a countryside that is still green (although not for much longer if the dry spell continues). The Independent on Sunday will do its bit for the holiday season, bringing you a summer special New Review next week and a two-part special on wildlife Britain in the main newspaper after that.

Meanwhile, who cannot have been enthralled by the story of the Russian spy, of which we provide the fullest possible account on pages 31 and 32? A rich and colourful tale that is less John le Carré than Austin Powers. A summer soufflé of silliness, complete with invisible ink, messages passed by agents brushing against each other in public places, and the alleged femme fatale giving 99 Fake Street as her, er, fake address to buy a mobile phone. But no actual spying, as far as can be deduced from the court papers filed so far.

Ah, the traditional delights of the British summer. As the Queen says in her annual address to Parliament, "Other measures will be laid before you."

Last year, there were stories in the newspapers about the demise of a large fish, described by anglers as an "iconic carp", and the possibility of Peter Mandelson becoming prime minister. This year, there will be different stories, possibly about foxes, which may or may not be described as iconic, and about Lord Mandelson's memoir (publication imminent), which may contain some waspish anecdotes.

There will be lists. Lists of holiday reading, listening, viewing. Of places to go, of delicacies to eat when you get there, of unexpected pleasures found in unexpected locations, of festivals, the figures who frequent them, and even lists of gadgets that are not made by Apple.

Above all, though, the sun is shining. The sky is blue. The volcano is quiescent again.

Last week, we got the awkward stuff out of the way. England out of the World Cup last Sunday; Andy Murray out of Wimbledon on Friday. With those traditional preliminaries over, we can now get on with the summer.