THERE are some common old tricks that tired and lazy newspaper contributors resort to when they’ve run out of ideas. One is to give a humorous account of the agonies of a blank sheet of paper. Another is to take the recent death of a celebrity and use it for a bit of name dropping,whilst saying how their passing has affected you immeasurably; think Tony Parsons. But by far the most common – especially at the end of December – is a tedious and self-indulgent review of the year.

So, what has 2018 been like for most of us? Brexit has provided plenty of entertainment. Mrs May still seems determined to deliver on the will of the people. Even though that will was hardly overwhelming and many believe that a lot would vote differently if given the opportunity to do so again. A classic leave/stay divide has also been very much in evidence. That's where some remainers go on about how leavers must be stupid, gullible and brainwashed. I used to think it patronising, now it seems borderline misanthropic. I can't stand the EU, per se, but I do want us to be in a European club. Stronger together, and all that. That's why I was 60:40 in favour of staying. In the end, I asked my children how to vote as it's them who will be affected. This whole thing has made me even surer that if people can't vote in the first 18 years of life then they shouldn't be allowed to vote in what are statistically the last 18. It’s time to disenfranchise the over-65s.

Child sex scandals continue to crop up with depressing regularity. This year it’s been vile grooming gangs. I got told off after one of my early articles when I said that the best people to deal with this are Messrs Spear and Jackson or, failing that, Smith and Wesson. I stand by that.

Seldom has a week gone by without someone moaning about the youth of today but I can’t agree. Sure, there are bad apples but ‘twas ever thus and ever shall be. The majority are fine. A friend of mine drives a bus that takes youngsters to a local village school. He told me that there’s an elderly gentleman who sits at a bus stop and waves to them each day, and they wave back. Just before school broke up, they asked my mate to stop the bus. He did and the children gave the old chap a Christmas present. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, naysayers!

Another friend of mine often uses the ironic #NothingEverHappensInDevizes on Facebook. It’s a dig at the moaners who ignore the great productions from (among others) TITCo, DMT, WHO and First Stages. On top of that, the Wharf Theatre keeps producing the goods. We’re lucky enough still to have a cinema. Many of us are grateful that the owners have kept the Palace going so long but they’ve probably taken it as far as they could and so the recent news about the forthcoming changes there is particularly exciting. We have two successful beer festivals, a food festival, an arts festival, a May Fair, lots of carnival events (yes, I know it’s changing next year but let’s give it a try) and much else besides. We punch well above our weight.

2018 was a proper old mixed bag and our world continues to appal at times and astound at others. I’m sure 2019 will be pretty much the same.

I shan’t be here to comment on it, though, as there are more changes at the Gazette & Herald and I’m one of them. As an advocate of change, I can’t complain. It’s over six years since I wrote my first article and I’ve enjoyed the 100 or so I’ve done since then. Thank you to the Gazette for giving me a platform. Thank you for reading and for the comments that many of you have made – particularly face to face.

Have a happy new year and I wish you and yours all the best for the future. Or as Dave Allen used to say, goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you.