Leading article: We toast 21 reasons to be cheerful

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The Independent Online

As a youthful, optimistic newspaper, The Independent on Sunday, which will be 21 next year, offers you, the idealistic but sceptical reader, 21 reasons to be cheerful in 2011.

1. The days have been getting longer since Tuesday. Tomorrow will be 32 seconds longer than today.

2. We don't get many prime number years, but 2011 is one. The most recent was 2003; the next will be 2017.

3. X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here have all finished. (Until they start again.)

4. There is going to be a referendum on the voting system. No, really, it is exciting. It has never happened before. The Alternative Vote is not a big change, but we believe that it is worth having. Vote Yes.

5. There is also going to be a referendum in Wales, on 3 March. This is a good thing in itself, because we approve of democracy; and we also hope that the people will vote Yes, as the opinion polls suggest that they may, to more law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly.

6. There are elections to the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament in May. More democracy. Who knows what will happen to the Labour and Plaid Cymru coalition in Cardiff and the Scottish National Party minority government in Edinburgh?

7. On the morning of Armistice Day, the time and date will briefly read 11:11:11, 11/11/11. That does not happen very often.

8. There will be only one Friday the 13th (in May).

9. The Super Bowl is on 6 February, at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which has a roof over the world's largest column-free interior, from the centre of which hang the largest high-definition video screens (one on either side), each 60 yards long. The bookies currently suggest it will be the New England Patriots vs the Atlanta Falcons.

10. The coalition government will provide endless excitement of a political kind, as the House of Commons matters again and David Cameron and Nick Clegg try to resolve their differences over control orders (an issue that the Prime Minister has already described as an "effing car crash") and other civil liberties and related subjects.

11. The last of eight Harry Potter films in July means that there will be no more.

12. In London, this Boris bike thing might hit a critical mass by the summer. That could change the eco-lifestyle of the Great Wen.

13. There will be an extra bank holiday on 29 April.

14. Some people will get married, possibly even on the extra bank holiday, which is lovely.

15. The release of Rango, Gnomeo and Juliet, Rio and Kung Fu Panda 2 suggest that 2011 will be another bumper year for top-quality children's computer-generated imagery.

16. National Insurance contributions will rise by one percentage point on earnings above £7,228, a year from April (and a further point on employers' contributions above £7,072 a year). We support this as a fair way to start to close the deficit. It is basically income tax and reasonably progressive.

17. Take That will be back together and playing some popular music at public venues in the summer.

18. There will be a cricket world cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It is that Twenty20 version of the game, which they play in their pyjamas. The World Athletics Championships in Korea will provide prime afternoon television practice for the Olympics. The Rugby World Cup will be in New Zealand in the autumn, which will provide further opportunities for men (mostly) to watch television at peculiar times.

19. There will be a census at the end of March. This will provide different kinds of fun for different groups of people. Those who do not enjoy counting things can make up religions.

20. The detention of child asylum-seekers will end during 2011. It is a little later than originally planned, but a date has now been set in May.

21. There will be another UN climate change summit. It will be at the end of the year, in Durban, South Africa. After the modest success of the Cancun COP (Conference of the Parties), by which we mean it didn't collapse, the prospect for progress in immensely complex 194-sided negotiations is good.

So there you are. Don't let the VAT rise on 4 January or the public spending cuts after that get you down. The Government will do many things with which we do not agree, but chin up and remember: always look on the bright side of life.