February! Umph!

Dark when you get up; dark when you leave work; wet; cold; the joy of Christmas but a distant memory…..oh! Except the bill for the credit card that paid for it all that now needs sorting. And Spring, new-born lambs, daffodils, light mornings and the clocks going forward, is still someway off. Umph! And again I say Umph!

So here are a few observations and thoughts to cheer you up in the middle of Winter……..things I bet you didn’t know or hadn’t really thought about concerning this funny old Country of ours that you can tell others when they’re slagging off the UK.

When Germans go into their local BMW showroom in Munchen, the Headquarters and spiritual home of BMW, and buy a Three Series, the engine, the fundamental engineering excellence of the car………..was built at Hams Hall just outside Birmingham!

A young black guy, brought up in a council flat in Stevenage, has just become only the fourth Brit ever to win the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship twice. (Win the next quiz by knowing that the others are Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Sir Jackie Stewart, the latter winning it three times). Lewis Hamilton drove a Mercedes to victory but the three-pointed-starred miracle of tomorrow’s engineering …………..was built in Northampton! Motor sport engineering in our Country comprises 4,500 businesses employing 41,000 people contributing some £9 billion to the UK economy and exporting 87% of all it makes.

The Country that attracts more inward investment from overseas than any other after the United States is……..the United Kingdom! The most productive car plant in Europe and the second most productive on earth is Nissan’s plant in Sunderland. One of the best overseas markets for the cars that come off Honda’s line in Swindon is……wait for it……..Japan!

At least half of every Airbus that has ever flown was built in the United Kingdom. The wings, the engines, the undercarriage and lots of the avionics are all made in the UK. The Germans make the……er……fuselage!

The EU Country that invests more in China than any other is…….the United Kingdom!

According to the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Index, the most entrepreneurial country in Europe is…….the United Kingdom! We are also the fourth most entrepreneurial Country in the World!

The fastest-growing economy in the developed world right now is…..the United Kingdom! We are the fifth largest economy on the planet, after China (1), the USA (2), Japan (3) and Germany (4).

The EU country with the lowest rate of unemployment as we start 2015 is……the United Kingdom. (It is less than half that of France and a quarter that of Spain).

The United Kingdom makes more cars than Germany and exports 80% of the cars we make. General Motors are closing a car plant in Germany and moving the production capacity to Ellesmere Port near Liverpool because it’s a more productive and globally competitive place to make motor cars!

This year we will break the record for the number of cars made in the UK in one year set in 1972.

The UK has won 123 Nobel prizes, more than any other country other than the USA.

The UK discovered the structure of DNA, invented DNA fingerprinting, pioneered cloning and contributed 40% of the first sequencing of the human genome.

Three of the top five Universities on earth are English, and Britain has over 25% of the top hundred Universities in the World.

From the RSC to Lloyd Webber, from the Premier League to architects and designers, the UK leads in so many areas of culture and creative industries.

Our Financial Services Sector (an enormous deliverer of overseas inward investment and a huge generator of taxation revenue and employment) is still (sorry Wall Street!) Número Uno in the World

As Matt Ridley of the Times (to whom I am indebted for some of the above facts) reflects, our climate may depress us at times but it could be so much worse. Our media may frustrate the hell out of us, but at least it’s free and devoid of Government interference.

And there is another major asset of our country we should bear in mind, especially as we start the longest General Election Campaign in history which, by May, will be boring the pants of us all….as Sir Winston Churchill famously remarked……Democracy is the worst form of Government, apart from all the others!

So cheer up……..we can have a double helping this year of celebrating beating the French: on 18th June it’s 200 years since Waterloo and on 25th October 600 years will have passed since Our ‘Enery cried “God for Harry, England and St George!” at Agincourt.

Spring is nearly here……and on 1st March there are only 299 SDTC.

SDTC? Shopping Days to Christmas of course!