You may know of our own North Wiltshire flying monk, Eilmer, Abbot of Malmesbury , who in 1005 very nearly managed to fly down the High Street, but eventually fell to the ground and broke both legs because, it is said, he had no tail feathers! Icarus, of course, flew too close to the Sun; the wax holding his wings together melted and he fell back to earth with a bit of a bump.

We’ve had a few Icarus impersonators recently. I will not dwell on the awfulness facing the Royal Family, except to say that it must not be allowed to tarnish Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. King George VI died on 6 February 1952; enabling my parents to witness his funeral passing through Hyde Park during their honeymoon. (My Father’s cine film of the event was only spoiled when he fell off the railings from which he was filming!)

We lesser mortals should take no pleasure from seeing anti-Vaxxer Novak Djokovic turned away at Melbourne Airport; we must not small-mindedly resent Tony Blair’s Garter (nor that for Brown, Cameron and May which will now doubtless follow); we should take no comfort from the oblivion into which the Great and Good are routinely consigned; but even the best of us cannot help but raise just the tiniest of smirks at their misfortune.

“All political careers end in failure” is a famous old cliché; but not if one’s political ambition is modest. I have always admired the 2001 Labour Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, who resigned after six months “because quite frankly I am not up to the job.” How refreshing. True modesty. Her career since then has in fact been very successful and fulfilling, and to this day she makes very useful contributions in House of Lords debates. Unlike Estelle the usual cruelty of politics is that there is nothing so ‘ex’ as an ‘ex-Minister’. I could reel off the names of so many of the very greatest in public life from the last twenty years or so who are now absolutely forgotten. Maybe her modesty was the very making of her.

Humility is the most difficult stance to adopt in politics without succumbing to a Uriah Heap-like self-satisfaction. “Ever so ‘umble” is an unattractive pose. Glorying in the nobility of humbleness is a self-contradiction which many MPs seem to enjoy. So I won’t go there.

But as we face one of the most difficult of years - Covid, economy, Russia, China, Climate Change to name but a few; a degree of humbleness at the huge tasks facing us in Parliament and Government would not go astray.  After all if you are modest in your ambitions, then you stand a good chance of achieving them. Even on a personal level, If you are obscure and humble, you may actually stand a better chance of being happy and better achieving the perhaps modest aims which you set yourself at this start of this New Year.

Just do your job quietly and as best you can; and maybe sooner or later someone will notice it and mark your quiet diligence in some way. But even if they don’t, you can still sleep easy in your bed at night confident and happy in a good job well done. So let us not emulate the few folk at the top end of the New Year Honours list; but let us truly revel in the hundreds of people whose quiet and often unseen contributions to their community and society is recognised in MBEs and BEMs. These people are truly the lifeblood of a decent society.

Would you not rather be one of them than some kind of an Icarus - a high flier coming back down to earth with an Eilmer-like bump?