How bad news got good in our 2012 odyssey

Sat, Dec 31, 2011, 00:00

AS 2012 draws to a merry close, citizens of this nation (and the whole planet, for that matter) find themselves engulfed in an unprecedented orgy of celebratory optimism. Tractor production is up by 400 per cent. The voices of reactionary counter-revolution have been silenced. A spirit of patriotism unites the newly revived proletariat, writes DONALD CLARKE

How different the atmosphere is to that which prevailed 12 months ago. When the new year dawned, sombre newspaper columnists – all now “reassigned” – took great delight in stoking misery and despair. The country appeared resigned to a century of decline.

Maybe the Mayans were correct after all. The year 2012 looked set to welcome something a little like an apocalypse. After picking up the debtor nations in a giant car-boot sale, the Germans would strip their purchases bare and sell the few remaining rags and bones to the Chinese.

The United Kingdom had plans to tow itself a few thousand miles deeper into the Atlantic and institute laws banning the speaking of French in public places. Films eulogising Mrs Thatcher – figurehead of the Britain First movement – were unveiled in that nation’s cinemas.

At home, finance ministers sought to balance the books by making everything considerably more expensive, while simultaneously ensuring that everybody had a great deal less money in their pockets. The Weimar Strategy (as it wasn’t known) did not promise any immediate surge in good times.

Further afield, initial optimistic notions about the Arab Spring withered as theocratic hoodlums began organising in north Africa. Russians struggled to overcome their nation’s ancient antipathy to parliamentary democracy, while Japan faced a nuclear crisis for the second time in 70 years.

If we weren’t sheltering from a blizzard, we were peering anxiously at spring blossoms that emerged in creepily mild late winter. The seas were rising. IQs were falling. New technologies were annihilating industries such as print journalism, book publishing, camera manufacturing and the music business.

In the United States all that ancient chat about fresh dawns and “change we can believe in” began to seem like so much empty guff. Egged on by genuine psychopaths from a certain right-wing news station, the Republican Party put forward a selection of deadbeats, gay-bashers, creationists and department-store mannequins for the highest office. Worryingly, Mr Obama had, by New Years Day, become so washed out that it seemed quite possible one of these unimpressive drones could win the election.

But look. It’s turned out nice again.

Moving as one many-legged beast, the Greek people united and, by a combination of thrift and ingenuity, transformed the nation into an efficient, disciplined collective. The Italians have welcomed the advance of technocrats and – a symbolic gesture of seriousness – banned game shows in which saucy housewives strip in the hope of winning cabin cruisers. Far from shrinking, the euro zone, newly healthy, has expanded to include Sweden, Poland and Turkey.

Who knows? With Israel, finally content within its 1967 borders, and the Palestinian Republic, recognised by all UN nations, both seeking membership of the European Union, the single currency could soon annex territories where even the Nazis failed to set foot.

The weather seems to be sorting itself out. It is far too soon for the agreement on global emissions to have had any serious effect, but, as if offering gestures of support, the tides have receded somewhat, the ice caps have got a little colder and the biblical torrents have decreased in ferocity. The planet may hold off hurtling into the sun for another year or so. Take that, erroneous, misinterpreted Mayan prophecy.

Here’s the best news of all. Everybody has gone back to reading inky newspapers and buying real books from independent booksellers. The rising tides (figurative, thank heavens, not literal) have lifted all boats. This newspaper and its competitors will continue to celebrate the achievements of our great leaders in reassuring physical form. Hail the great leaders! They bring light where once there was darkness! Their interlocking orbits circle us with joy!

It did not seem like such a great thing when, after a decade of disappointment, Jedward finally brought the Eurovision Song Contest home to Ireland. But the great leaders’ endless goodwill and stirring positivity immediately set the nation alight.

In times of strife, citizens demand strong leadership and that is what Kim Jong John and Kim Jom Ed’s benevolent military coup has finally delivered. Every morning we begin the day with a stirring song. Every evening we recite a prayer to the entwined deities. ’Sup, Ireland.

Did you just wake up screaming in bed? Calm down. None of the above is true. Still the fantasy did you no great harm. Sure, things could be a lot better, but they could also be a lot worse. The world seems just a tiny bit less depressing. Doesn’t it?