Where has 2017 gone? There’s less than five per cent of it left but it seems like only five minutes since we were looking forward to it. I guess it’s an age thing; for the likes of my grandson, who has just managed to reach up and delete half of what I’d written (thank goodness for Ctrl Z), 2017 has been two thirds of his time to date and has seen him go from babe in arms to tireless toddler. For those of his recent vintage, 2016 might as well be the dinosaur era.

With the age reference, you might be expecting this to be a cynical rant about the state of Devizes, Britain, the world and the youth of today. Sorry, but not here, and not now. Maybe you’re expecting a moan about Christmas. Sorry again because I love Christmas! I love the food, the drink, seeing the family, more drink, the telly, presents, football, darts, cricket (maybe not this year unless something remarkable happens), sing-songs, the seldom-honoured promise to go for at least one good long walk, the time away from work, Scrabble and time to relax. Turkey and all the trimmings? Bring it on! Chutney, pickled eggs, half a hundredweight of peanuts? Count me in!

Despite time flying by, 2017 has been a busy year. After the surprise result of the Euro referendum, it was time for a strong and stable government to prove its strength and stability and lead us forward into a post-EU world. Instead, they’ve made themselves into one of the lamest of ducks that we’ve seen for many a long year. If we had anything like a credible opposition then Mrs May would be out. Both the Conservatives and Labour need to sort themselves out and quickly – the country deserves better.

I guess that most of us have lost friends or family this year, but our private grief is seldom news, unlike the passing of people like Fats Domino, Hugh Heffner, Sonny Landham, Geoffrey Bayldon and, of course, Michael Bond.

On a more cheery note, it’s been a fabulous year for festivals, carnivals and the like. There seems to be a beer festival every month. It should be even better in 2018. After this year’s abandonment, the Lions May Fair will be back on that Bank Holiday Monday. Some found their enjoyment of this year’s Devizes Beer Festival marred by those who bought their own drink and took up much of the space that paying punters expected to enjoy. Next year we’re taking steps to stop people bringing their own. If you’re one of those people, then the message is simple – it’s a ticketed event so please don’t crash it. Go and have your own picnic somewhere else – we don’t want you.

During December, I’ve loved going round the streets of Devizes with Father Christmas. The Lions Club is lucky that the jolly fellow chooses us to remind him of his way round town. There’s a lot of cul de sacs and one-way streets, some houses don’t have chimneys and other children might be away. Father Christmas finds this helps him get the job done that little bit more efficiently on the big day and he enjoys meeting lots of the children. We Lions love the buzz that surrounds the man that some call Santa and, we have to admit, his presence brings the crowds out which doesn’t half help our Christmas collection. And the good people of Devizes have been generous to us once again this year. I expect that the great man has had the same impact in other towns and villages where he’s strutted his stuff. Perhaps you’d like to help us next year? It’s a lot of fun – Google ‘Devizes Lions’ for more details.

Like every year, 2017 was a proper old mixed bag and our world continues to appal at times and astound at others. I would expect 2018 to be pretty much the same. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.