Just for once all the good stuff is coming to our doorstep and for free

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Given all the gloom in the world, from the economy to a summer which has long since got beyond a joke with its constant miserable attitude, 2012 is shaping up to be something of a vintage year.

It almost feels as though a few years back people knew everyone was going to be skint and with a permanent anxiety about their jobs, so kindly arranged for there to be masses of national moments of unity to enjoy.

What’s more, they are anchoring 2012 and stopping it from being 365-days of miserableness (actually, make that 366 days as it was a leap year) and making it rather special for the 99 per cent of us working to ridiculously tight budgets (the remaining one per cent being the bankers who seem to be keeping themselves busy this year in their own special way).

Take a look at the evidence.

Regardless of your views on the royal family as an institution, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations did, at the very least, provide a string of spectacular events to enjoy if not in person, then at least plonked in front of your TV set while eating a packet of limited edition red, white and blue M&Ms.

No sooner had we stopped caring on a day-to-day basis as to what the Queen was up to or how the Duke of Edinburgh’s dicky bladder was, then Roy Hodgson jetted out with his gang of over-paid footballers to Poland and the Ukraine for Euro 2012.

Granted, they flew there with, for once, the weight of expectation removed and replaced with a sense of an inevitable masterclass by a proper footballing team. And, lo, it came to pass that Italy were that team.

But at least we got a few weeks of thoroughly entertaining football thrown in for free on the BBC and ITV and a slightly longer, than any one of us expected, interest in England’s progress.

Once again, as soon as the final whistle was blown we were treated to another sporting spectacle.

Wimbledon leapt to our rescue and Andy Murray served up not just some sensational tennis but a bit of history too.

Granted, he couldn’t actually win the thing, but having grown up in an era where a British player reaching the second round – forget the second week – was worthy of front page news, a fellow in the final is almost too much to comprehend.

But there he was, lining up alongside Roger Federer and giving one of the game’s greatest ever players a jolly good run for his money (and there was an awful lot of money to be running for too).

Which now brings us to a brief pause in proceedings, but don’t wait for long.

Because next week the Olympic Torch Relay finally makes its way to Kent. Granted, it may just be a few folk trotting along carrying an enormous Swan Vesta above their heads, but somehow it is managing to capture the imagination.

Again, when money is tight, the chance to go and see something truly memorable and not have to dip deep into your own pocket to do so, is to be deeply encouraged.

In fact, you have to hand it to the people doing the PR for the relay – they have somehow managed to make a 70-day event be an enormous success wherever it goes.

Even when there’s a lot of tutting and ‘what’s the point’ mutterings, the streets are still jam packed with people keen to catch a glimpse of the flame and secretly hoping they get to spot the so-called ‘mother flame’ which is carried in the back of the support truck and that it’s not just a chap with a great big Zippo lighter speaking in a Greek accent.

What’s more, no sooner does the torch make its way through the streets of Kent then we get the Olympic Games. Not just on the TV but actually on our door-step. Granted, tickets for the 100m final aren’t free, but the atmosphere of hosting this sporting colossus is one which we will all remember.

Now, perhaps, just perhaps, your deity of choice is planning to drop some serious summer sunshine on us once that’s finished – to give us a few months of barbecue fun in the company of friends and family.

Well it’s got to be nice for more than a day at some point, hasn’t it?

And that, despite what the cynics will say, is a year which has delivered above and beyond what we could have expected. Here’s hoping 2013 dishes up some treats, and isn’t a year-long hang-over instead.


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