Then down came the freezing fog and the multiple vehicle pile-up. Into the sickening crunchfest sped Lehmans, AIG, HBOS, RBS, Robert Tchenguiz, M&S, Foxtons (small cheer), the Icelandic nation and any semblance of balancing the books at UK plc, as the rest of us looked on agog. Now we all sit stationary in the 45-mile tailback, running low on fuel and supplies and fearing the worst. We've become inured to the non-stop stream of gloomy news: Woolies gets sold for a pound and hardly anyone notices.
On the positive side - and at MT we'll always try to keep the glass half full for you - we have a new winner of Britain's Most Admired Companies and five new entrants into the Top 10. Diageo is a worthy victor and looks set fair to cope with recession as we drown our sorrows in Guinness and Johnnie Walker. It's also strongly diversified across the globe and filling its coffers with increasingly valuable dollars.
Another strong performer is Unilever, so often given a roasting for a low metabolic rate over the past decade, a tortoise-and-hare fable come true. In tough times, we still need to clean our clothes and ourselves, and fill up with Ben & Jerry's as a weekend treat.
Finally, I'm joined for the first time in seven years on this page by Rufus Olins. Rufus and I co-edited MT in 2001 before he headed off for the managerial stratosphere, eventually becoming MD of our division here at Haymarket. One observer wrote that our joint portrait from those distant times resembled two adolescents sharing the same urinal. Sadly, nobody would mistake either of us for an adolescent these days...
Rufus was responsible for seeing MT safely into the 21st century with a vital relaunch that caught the spirit of the age perfectly. Under his stewardship, it really was 'Not Just Business As Usual', and MT set the pace for UK business magazines - as it continues to do today. Good luck to him in his new online venture at warc.com, and a happy Christmas to all of you. Let's hope for prosperity in harder times next year.