IT'S not all doom and gloom out there, you know.

Despite it all, there are several reasons to be cheerful.*

n ONE. The royal baby-in-waiting. In case you missed the news, Pippa Middleton's slightly less-well-known sister Kate is expecting. The announcement immediately made headlines across the world. Within hours, we had our first royal-babies-down-the-ages picture quiz in a national newspaper website. Expect much, more of the same – special souvenir supplements, commemorative tea-towels, round-the-clock coverage on Sky. First the wedding, then the jubilee, now this. It's very good of the royals to take our minds off our economic woes.

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n TWO. Speaking of which, George Osborne makes his autumn statement today. It's hard not to smile indulgently as George continues to insist that things will eventually turn out well if only we keep the faith with his deficit-reduction programme.

n THREE. Homeland is becoming more convoluted. There's much to admire in this spiritual successor to 24: Saul's beard. Dana Brody's sulky teen. Carrie's intense, swivel-eyed performance. Brody's almost imperceptible smirk as he plays off terrorists and the CIA. Carrie's on-off romance with Brody, characterised in turns by chaste hand-holding and encounters that the tabloids would probably describe as steamy. Last Sunday night, a key CIA character was surreptitiously investigated by his colleagues, who broke into his apartment and tailed him when he left his office. Where, you think, startled, as you reach for the rewind button on the TV remote, did all that come from? Did you miss a brief whispered exchange four episodes back that would have made it all perfectly clear? Did you manage to miss an entire episode? Or an entire series? Or are the writers just spinning it out? This bluffing and double-bluffing makes it very difficult to second-guess where it is all going to end – assuming the writers themselves know. Just so long as it doesn't go all 24 on us – with artificial cliffhangers every week and Jack Bauer putting in a guest appearance.

n FOUR. The Pope will be on Twitter (@pontifex) from next week. We look forward to his thoughts on the X Factor, David Beckham's next club, and whether Rafa Benítez will be sacked by Chelsea before Christmas – the topics, in other words, that obsess nearly every other Twitter user.

* Well, sort of cheerful.