Reasons to be cheerful

We’re smack bang in the middle of the gloomiest months of the year, but here are a few things to smile about.

January and February are truly the months of the blues. January includes what is, officially, the most depressing day of the year (the third Monday after Christmas) and the interminable cold, dark days of February make the shortest month feel like the longest.

But don’t despair: there’s loads to look forward to in 2012. Here are some highlights to lift the gloom.

A bonus bank holiday
Whatever your views on the royal family, there’s no doubt Her Majesty has done us all a favour in 2012. By staying on the throne for 60 years, she’s convinced the government to do the decent thing and give us all an extra bank holiday. Happily, the extended four-day weekend at the start of June applies to monarchists and republicans alike.

So, what to do with it? Well, recent reports by the Local Government Association suggest that the number of street parties is likely to surpass the figure for the wedding of Prince William last year. Of course, if you want to avoid the celebrations, four days is pretty much perfect for a city break, whether that’s in Manchester or Madrid.

A real summer of sport
Every spring, excitable media types start talking up the ‘amazing’ summer of sport to come, but this year they won’t be exaggerating. There’s the Olympics (and Paralympics) of course. If you can’t make it to London, several of the events – like rowing, sailing and road cycling – are being held elsewhere in the country. If you’re an armchair fan but can’t catch the whole shebang, it’s worth at least catching any event featuring either Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps – arguably two of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

Oh, and experts reckon that the ‘Olympics effect’ will boost both the national mood and the national economy.

But for those who think the Olympics are an expensive celebration of hobbies most people would normally cross the road to avoid, there’s also Euro 2012. The European Football Championships will be held in Poland and Ukraine and take place between 8 June and 1 July. Both England and the Republic of Ireland have qualified.

If you don’t have tickets for either event already, avoid a lot of stress and expense and resolve to watch them at home, with your mates, while firing up the BBQ and sipping on a few cold ones.

Music, music everywhere
It may be January, but the start of Britain’s world-beating music festival season is just around the corner. And even though the biggest beast in the jungle – Glastonbury – is having a year off, there’s still plenty to look forward to.

Honeyfest – in April – based in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, is the first outdoor festival of a season that then takes in highlights like Download (9 June), Isle of Wight (22 June), T in the Park (6 July), Latitude (12 July), and Reading/Leeds (24 August), before petering out as the leaves begin to fall. And there are lots, lots more.

Barbecue weather
Yes, it’s cold and wet at the moment, but we’re in for a scorching summer. Possibly.

Predicting the weather beyond the next few days is notoriously difficult, but bona fide weatherman John Kettley has done it anyway. And the news is hot! Kettley recently told the Sun that August 2012 will be: “Very warm, occasionally hot, hot, hot. Some thundery downpours and (it’s) always more changeable for north western areas as showers reach us from the Atlantic. But overall a big thumbs up month.”

So there you have it. Pretty much a nailed on guarantee of a hot August. Maybe.

You’re (probably) flu-free
If all that spring and summer fun seems an age away, console yourself with this. You probably don’t have flu. On current trends this could be one of the healthiest winters ever in terms of seasonal flu. And unlike previous years, there have been no panics about pandemics like Sars, swine flu or bird flu.

So celebrate this good fortune by getting healthier still. Eat well and exercise and you really will have a beach body by June. Without flu to wipe out a week or two, it really is the season to be jolly.

The world won’t end
While it’s true that some people have looked at a Mayan calendar and predicted the end of the world at the end of 2012, it’s also true that experts who have looked at the Mayan calendar have predicted that the world will still be around in 2013. So the best news in 2012 is that you can still make plans for 2013.

Of course, there’s much more to be cheerful about in 2012, even while the days remain short and the wind bitter. But one thing’s for certain: it’s shaping up to be quite an extraordinary year.


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