This time last year, we were still in the thrall of that terrible disaster of the South East Asian tsunami, when I expressed the view that any traditional expression of happiness for the New Year seemed somewhat inappropriate.
The devastation in New Orleans and the long drawn-out agony of that unhappy country Kashmir, with its less spectacular but savagely devastating earthquake later in the year, hardly improved the tenor of the year but it is a testament to those that have suffered and the rest of us that the human spirit prevails and life goes on. However, there is always a small part of all of us that never forgets that there are people far more unfortunate than us, not least today which is a time for remembrance as well as celebration.
In the national arena, this time last year we were confidently expecting a general election and I wrote at the time that, barring a miracle, "it seems almost certain that we are going to see another Labour victory and even, possibly, a further decline in the fortunes of the Conservative Party." In all respects, we were not disappointed – if that is the correct word – although none of us could have predicted that the Boy King would ascend to the Tory leadership and set about dismantling what was left of the Party.
We were also expecting a number of referendums on the EU constitution, not least the French referendum after L'Escroc, in his televised New Year address, had announced his intentions. Equally, none of us could have predicted such a happy result, both in France and Holland, although the results deprived us of the referendum that we were expecting this year.
Nonetheless, the game is not over and, if we were to be so incautious as to make a prediction, we would hazard a guess that we could well be looking at another round of referendums next year, after the French presidential elections.
On the home front, after much needed repair and redecoration in the house, our female cat has taken an aversion to the living room and will not enter it under any circumstances. Instead, she has taken to sleeping on the stairs, in a position calculated to cause the greatest danger to the unwary. If this blogger suddenly ceases posting, it may not be that I have been carted off to jail yet again.
Cat permitting, I will continue blogging, as indeed will my colleague – who has mercifully weathered her arduous, year long experience of the NHS - in the hope that it makes the difference. Amongst the pain and disaster, not forgetting the bomb atrocity in London, and the more frequent and more devastating terrorist attacks in Iraq, Israel and elsewhere, it has been a good year for the blog.
After starting in April 2004, we entered the year just departed with just over 90,000 hits and came out the other side of our first complete year with over 550,000 – a five-fold increase. It would be too much to hope for this rate of increase to be sustained, but nevertheless, we wish our existing, much valued readers – and those to come – as well as our forum members, a very happy New Year.