Anton Rippon: Here's someone who's looking forward to a rubbish new year
"IT'S good news about the city council's new plans for recycling cardboard," said the man at the bar. "I'm now looking forward to 2013 with even greater relish."
"What?" I said, "Do you actually enjoy the prospect of a new year stretching before you? Given how events unfolded in the old one, it's beginning to frighten me."
"Well," said the man, "I'm thinking about the proposal to replace our blue bins with larger ones. And I'm hoping that they'll ask us to take the old bins to the Council House on a particular day to get them exchanged.
"I can see it now – dates will be allocated based on your surname, alphabetically. Buses will charge the children's rate for a bin. Councillors will be on hand to help us remove the wheels from the old bin so that it can be stacked. People will be asked to offer assistance to frail neighbours… it could be quite a community event."
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To be honest, I can see the fun in that.
But it is a strange feeling, a new year. I remember New Year's Eve 1999. I stood in the Wardwick, waiting for a bus, reflecting that we'd soon be in another century. I knew that it wasn't for another 12 months. But simply writing down "2000" did it for most people.
How the years have rushed on since then. We've left the first decade of the 21st century well behind. But what improvements to our lives have we got to show for it? Not many, it seems, other than we're apparently going to be rid of those orange bags that blow about the streets on bin-collection day. Then again, we didn't have the bags in the first place, when the Millennium clock ticked over and we were told that aeroplanes would fall out of the sky on the stroke of midnight.
Overall, it feels that most things have got worse. A lot worse. Previous recessions seem as gentle zephyrs compared to the economic hurricane that is currently uprooting so many people's lives. Incomes stagnate but prices rise. You would think that after 2,000 years of modern civilisation we'd have just about got it right. Yet, any way you want to slice it, it seems that we've been led by a worldwide bunch of incompetents. Or crooks. Or maybe there is a conspiracy theory to explore.
But let's end on a positive note. It was tremendously refreshing, just before Christmas, to attend the first event in the Embrace Derbyshire Campaign run by the Derbyshire Community Foundation, an independent charity that builds and manages a fund made possible by some extraordinary acts of philanthropy from businesses, trusts, families and individuals among us.
There are also many unsung people in our community who give their time to a wide range of groups including those involved in supporting carers, survivors of domestic abuse, children, young people and isolated elderly residents. Since 1996, the foundation has made grants to these groups totalling £11.5 million across Derbyshire.
So in these sometimes depressing times, when we're let down by so many people who ought to do much better, it's as well to remember that there is also so much good out there. People do care.
Happy New Year, everyone.