So, on this Hogmanay as 2011 ends and 2012 fast approaches, how was 2011 – a year when austerity, natural disasters, revolutions and mass movements of all kinds dominated the headlines - for you? Who were the heroes, and who were the baddies in 2011?
HEROES and good things:
- John Prescott, for his commitment to dealing with climate change and keeping Britain at the centre of discussions on this vital issue (unlike some other politicians on other vital issues) and for being one of the few genuinely entertaining “celebrities” on Twitter
- Caroline Lucas, our solitary Green MP, for continuing to fight the Green case in Parliament
- Grass routes campaigning groups, such as 38 Degrees www.38degrees.org.uk and UK Uncut www.ukuncut.org.uk who taught us all how to effectively channel public anger in novel, entertaining and persuasive ways against outrageous governmental decisions – like the proposed sell-off of public forests and tax exemptions for multi-national corporations
- An unexpected four-day window of lovely weather at the end of July that enabled me to climb two Munros in three days and enjoy stupendous views over the Trossachs and Southern Highlands http://www.bootandbike.co.uk/2011/08/two-munros-in-three-days/
- The return of Sarah and her Book Barge www.thebookbarge.co.uk to enhance the cultural life of the Barton area
- Skinny Kitten Cafe in Barton Main Street, with its sumptuous sausage sandwiches.
- John, James and Mark at the Glasgow Guest House www.glasgow-guest-house.co.uk for their warm hospitality, unfailing good humour, Glasgow wit and style
- The always-wonderful West Highland Railway www.railbrit.co.uk/West_Highland_Railway/frame.htm closely followed by Cruise Loch Lomond www.cruiselochlomond.co.uk for taking me through wondrous places, to the other spectacular places I want to get to, without having drive there
- Damian Carrington and his excellent team at Guardian Environment www.guardian.co.uk/environment including the fabulous Bike Blog and the brilliant new Environment App.
- Dan Lepard and his mouth-watering recipes – by far my favourite baker
- Ian Jack for simply being the best newspaper columnist around and for continually illustrating to all would-be scribblers just how to write
- Finally, at long last, being able to give up the day job!
VILLAINS and bad things:
- This supposedly “greenest-ever government: it actually would be very funny, if it wasn’t so sad and potentially disastrous
- And, in a very close competition for the most outrageous example of its hypocritical approach to the environment – Spelman? Hammond? Paice? - no, by a few stomachs it just has to be that arch-priest of over-consumption, Eric Pickles; the Secretary for Communities who believes the best way to improve our communities is to encourage everyone to eat more take aways and then throw the remnants and packaging into the landfill
- This misguided acceptance by Caroline Spelman and Defra that bovine TB can be combated by a barbarous cull of badgers
- The murmurings among the country set and Agriculture Minister James Paice, urging the Government to bring back hunting, despite poll after poll showing that at least 75 per cent of the population back the ban
- The steady withdrawal of subsidies from public transport in rural areas
- The constant publicity afforded to the bile spouted by some gross examples of white, middle-aged, middle-class males; eg, Clarkson, Littlejohn, Letts et al who believe they are entitled to ridicule anything they fear, or don’t understand, like women, safety and environmental legislation, the disabled, the disadvantaged and certain ethnic minorities
Sadly, this list could go on and on but, let’s end 2012 on a high note with more good things than bad. Happy New Year to everyone and here’s to a happy, healthy and green 2012.