It’s back to school. Holidays behind us, winter ahead. Fear not, we’re re-charged, brimming with purpose. The next three months will define a year upon which we can reflect with great satisfaction, all things considered.

Theatrical wave of hand, you’re back in the room. What a mess! Even some magnificent northern hemisphere performances in the Rugby World Cup last weekend cannot lighten the psychological load of living in 2023 with the central heating switch now winking at us.

Indirectly, we agonise over Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, to name but a few hotspots. On our doorstep, scanning today’s news, the HS2 fiasco beggars belief, opacity reigns over climate change policy, and Russell Brand lurks (allegedly). The rolling strikes programme, crises in healthcare, migration, policing, housing, domestic budgets, and that you need to consult a water safety app before taking a paddle no longer dominate the headlines. We can’t even trust concrete.

To combat the frustration, I decided to join the National Rejoin March on Saturday. To be clear, this wasn’t a political move. Nor was I motivated by blame and recrimination. I am not a Remoaner. Yes, I voted to fix the EU’s issues from within the team, but the nation decided, and we move on. I happen to think that leaving was a mistake and that re-entry at some point will be the right thing to do.

I’m also not a marcher. I get the camaraderie and the expression of a democratic right but have never believed that protesting in this way changes the minds of government ministers. To this point, the BBC decided not to cover the event, thereby generating coverage.

On reflection too, despite being struck by the colourful, animated representation from all over the UK, I counted more walking sticks than under 25s. If, at the macro level, there appears to be no will in Westminster for rejoining the EU, equally it seems that the younger members of the population have other matters on their minds, for now. And who can blame them?

But something good does happen when we walk the talk. And maybe here’s a source of motivation for the run in to Christmas.

Much has been written about our nation losing its way. Perhaps it has. In truth, no nation has emerged from Covid unscathed. And we certainly cannot rely upon most of our public leaders for direction. In their defence, they face enormous challenges. To their shame, greed and short-termism fail us all.

So, what do we know? At their best Brits are inventive, entertaining, self-effacing, precise, resilient, welcoming, decent, determined, kind, and forgiving. 10 top traits.

And, with optimistic zeal, we can champion these qualities in our homes, friendship groups and workplaces. Let’s not be downbeat. We do have agency.

In his book Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson wondered if Britain could summon “sufficient collective imagination for a shared sense of possibility and a set of principles that could apply to a common future”.

In our own circles of influence, where it counts, I believe we can.