Sport accolade for Anne

November 5: Princess Anne was named Sportswoman of the Year. It was a milestone which went far beyond mere sport. For it told of two other social phenomena.

Princess Anne The first was that Britain, despite all the fine words about the technological revolution and embracing the future, was still happily wedded to an imaginary past of grand houses, social class, parkland and, of course, horseflesh.

Far from being made redundant by the car and lorry, the horse was enjoying a comeback. Showjumping and point-to-point were attracting more families than ever and no-one thought it strange that the most coveted sporting award of the year should go to a horse rider.

The second phenomenon was the enduring (and to republicans, inexplicable) popularity of the Royal Family. This was probably the result of the Queen's shrewd decision to modernise what she called "The Family Firm" and expose it more to the public view.

As Prince Philip put it three years earlier: "The monarchy is part of the fabric of the country. And as the fabric alters, so the monarchy and its people's relations to it alter."

In earlier royal households, princesses had been seen but not heard. Anne was breaking the mould, combining a busy programme of charity events with membership of the Olympic squad. Earlier in 1971 she had won the Burghley three-day event on her horse, Doublet.

August 11: Internment without trial was introduced as part of new emergency powers to control the escalating violence in Northern Ireland. The immediate result was to create yet more violence and there were widespread riots as the first 300 suspects were rounded up.

In a further bid to bring the situation under control the government banned all processions except Remembrance Day parades but including the provocative Apprentice Boys' demonstration in Londonderry. Among the casualties on the first day of the new policies were a priest who was shot while giving the last rites to a dying man and a 15-year-old boy who was also shot as he hurled a petrol bomb.

February 15: British money came to the point when decimal currency was introduced in Britain and two and sixpence suddenly became 12 and a half new pence. Despite reassuring D-Day claims by the government that everything was going well, many customers and quite a few shopkeepers were completely bamboozled by the new money. Many people found it hard to adjust to the concept of a ten pence coin now equalling two shillings. But more people were concerned that traders would use the change to mark up prices.

January 20: Motor cycles, vans, taxis and even pigeons were pressed into service delivering mail as the first postal strike in history started to bite. Most of the nation's 230,000 postal workers led by the whiskered Tom Jackson laid down their mailbags at midnight in support of a 19.5 per cent wage increase demand. The Tory government, determined to tough it out, lifted its ban on private service carrying mail. Even the police got in on the act with court summonses being delivered by police car.

July 6: The first great era of jazz ended with the death of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong who was 71 and had been blowing his horn for nearly 60 years. He had learned to play cornet in a home for waifs and strays in New Orleans and had served his apprenticeship at funeral parades of the sort that were to be held for him. He was taken up by the legendary King Oliver but it was his brilliant gift for improvisation which turned jazz into a soloist's art. He was surprisingly proud of having a big mainstream hit with the number "Hello Dolly" - and there have been a number of posthumous hit singles too.


In brief

January 2: More than 66 people were crushed to death at Ibrox Park football stadium in Glasgow when barriers collapsed during the traditional New Year derby match between Rangers and Celtic.

February 4: Rolls Royce was declared bankrupt.

February 9: The first British soldier was killed in Northern Ireland.

February 18: Driving test applications in the West Midlands dropped by two-thirds during the postal strike, halving the waiting time for a test to four weeks.

March 30: The introduction of Valued Added Tax was announced.

April 22: Hot pants, the latest fashion in women's wear, made their debut but wearers were told they would not be welcomed in to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

May 8: Arsenal emulated the feat of their North London rivals Tottenham 10 years earlier by winning English football's league and cup double.

May 21: Rugeley Rugby Club's forward line claimed they didn't know whether they were coming or going because the pitch wasn't being mown parallel with the lines marking it out and it was costing them games.

May 28: A Wolverhampton motorist was given a suspended prison sentence after admitting hitting another driver in the face at traffic lights - which goes to show road-rage is not a 90s phenomenon.

June 1: The 10-yearly census got under way with widespread rebellion from the British people over filling in the forms.

  August 2: A 26-year-old man who expected to go to jail kissed a Cannock magistrate after she fined him instead. "That must make history," she said afterwards.

  August 20: Prince Charles and his Wolverhampton-born room-mate James Giles parted company when they passed out of RAF Cranwell.

October 31: Britain's tallest building, the Post Office Tower, was ripped apart by a terrorist bomb blast.

November 24: Six years after the declaration of UDI, Rhodesia's constitutional links with Britain were restored.