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The London Eye

Chris Neill sums up 2012: all fur coat and no knickers

Published on January 3rd 2012.

The London Eye

IN some ways 2012 started like any other. In the wee small hours of 1 January, there was quite a lot of vomit to steer clear of on the Central line; then later in the day my Facebook timeline was littered with dozens of 'friends' I've never met bothering to inform me of the size of their hangovers; and The Eagle Has Landed took its rightful place in the TV schedules but still I've never got to the end of it.

Someone once described the days between Christmas and New Year's Eve as velvet; a soft and snuggly interlude... Now we're told: 2011's Velvet Days were the last bulwark between us and Armageddon.

Apart from all these soothing traditions however, the gentle slide from one year to the next this time felt somewhat different, a little more edgy perhaps. Downright alarming, possibly. In fact, I can't think of a year's dawning being greeted by political leaders, both at home and abroad, as being so bloody awful. Not a glimmer of hope anywhere, it seems. The words and languages may be different but the message is the same: If you thought 2011 was hair-raising, wait to you see this one. Even the bald ones said so. 

Someone once described the days between Christmas and New Year's Eve as velvet; a soft and snuggly interlude between those two titans of expectation where the pressure is off, the time is your own and even the names of days themselves become irrelevant. Now we're told: 2011's Velvet Days were the last bulwark between us and Armageddon. 

Before you panic unduly though, David Cameron pops up and tells his nervous minions that Britain will be brought “up to strength” by the arrival of the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Maybe I've got my grumpy head on but concentrate as I might I have little sense that these jollies are doing much to boost the old immune system. It's like telling a patient in intensive care that all they need to do is listen to the party taking place next door – without complaining about having had to pay for it in the first place and then not even being invited – and they'll be back on their feet in no time. 


This year's fireworks display on the South Bank cost more than ever before and we are informed by the government that no self-respecting nation could possibly suffer the indignity of a summer Olympics' opening ceremony costing a mere £40 million quid but instead we've had to double it. There might be nothing left in the pot for anything else it seems but when it comes to baubles there's no expense spared. (Who could have guessed that Britain's narrative arc in 2012 could be summed up by six words: All fur coat and no knickers?) Even these facts have done nothing to put a spring in my step. 

On the other side of the poltitcal fence, Ed Milliband declared that “optimism can defeat despair.” Whether this was intended for us or a delusional, self-affirmative mantra he mouths forlornly in front of the mirror every morning along with “I can be prime minister too” is unclear. As for Nick Clegg, well he stood on the steps of his handsome Putney home and reassured a querulous nation with the message: “At least there's still milk in the shops.”

How best then to tailor one's new year's resolutions in these straitened times? My advice is this: Don't tax yourself unduly (unless you're a fireworks manufacturer when really the sky's the limit). If “this will be the year I find true love” or “that promotion shall be mine” are the kind of things you desire of the next twelve months then Stop It Now.

According to our leaders, still being in one piece will be achievement enough and so set your sights a little lower. For me, I intend to stop talking to myself in the street. Oh, and to be conscientious about having ensured my flies are done up before I leave the house. If I can put mighty great ticks against these two by New Year's day 2013 I will feel I've done rather well and might be spurred onto greater things like national economic salvation and solving global warming, but until then it's the small things that count.  Now get back under that duvet. 


Chris Neill is a comedian, broadcaster and native Londoner. You can make him feel more popular than he actually is by following him at @chrisneill on Twitter.

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