One year ago, on January 1st, my son limped downstairs in the early afternoon and stood in the middle of the sitting-room, his arms spread out wide. Slowly, very slowly, he turned around and around, performing perfectly-formed circles.
Eventually, my wife, who had been trying to watch Julie Andrews inveigle herself into the von Trapp household, could stand it no longer. “What,” she asked, with the air of one who knows they are about to be hit with a stupid answer, “are you doing?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” replied my son, who had doubtless been a tad concerned that nobody was going to ask him the obvious question, “I’m making my New Year’s revolutions.”
I’ve never been a great believer in New Year’s resolutions, ever since the time, when but a pale and sallow youth, I decided that I would spend an hour jogging before breakfast every day. A glance out the window at the heaviest fall of snow in thirty years persuaded me that perhaps an extra hour in bed might be more beneficial to my general health and well-being, and ever since then I have stoutly repelled all rashly-considered urges to turn over a new leaf on the first day of the year. Life-changing decisions, I feel, are somewhat trivialised by restricting them to January 1st.
As well as that, I feel that I am like the aforementioned Julie Andrews in another of her evil manifestations (Mary Poppins), being “practically perfect in every way.” My wife tells me this constantly. As such, of course, I have no need of self-improvement and trying to come up with meaningful resolutions – “must give up avocado pears, must learn how to fold a fitted sheet etc” – is quite a futile exercise.
I am however, despite my spotless character, very aware of the imperfections of others, and am willing to help those mere mortals around me to formulate New Years Resolutions for themselves. And of course, this being the season of goodwill, I am more than willing to dispense this advice completely free of charge, although any donations would be most gratefully received.
Exercise, for some totally unfathomable reason, is always near the top of most people’s resolutions list, and so I would recommend for the entire body of Fingal County Council a nice gentle walk every morning at around 8am. Nothing too strenuous – just a stroll over the bridge at Clonsilla Railway Station and back a dozen times. After all, they appear to think it is perfectly safe for commuters to do this, day in day out.
More exercise is also recommended for the otherwise admirable glass-recyclers of Littlepace. Emptying a bag full of bottles into the recycling bins at the shopping centre is unlikely to cause repetitive strain injury, and is actually quite helpful in the whole environmental scheme of things. Merely depositing the full bags in the vicinity of the bins does not itself greatly benefit humanity.
To the strong, fit and athletic young men of Dublin 15 who journey into the centre of our great metropolis on packed buses every morning, I would suggest that standing up would be a great means of maintaining their robust physiques. True, it may mean that a frail octogenarian might take your seat, but the benefit to the calf muscles is immense and will stand you in good stead when you are frail octogenarians yourselves.
Does anybody know if there are still clampers in the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre? The signs are up everywhere warning of the dire consequences of parking in an undesignated area - €80 fine or transportation to Botany Bay (whichever you prefer) - but it’s been a long time since I saw an offending vehicle sporting the humiliating yellow contraption. My New Years Resolution, if I were a clamper, would be to requisition some new clamps. I’m sure they would find them a useful addition to their armoury, and a handy deterrent for those tempted to park in disabled spaces.
And on the subject of parking, it is incredible the number of people who find this exercise difficult. The spaces up in the centre are not unnaturally narrow or short, yet the number of drivers who fail to get their vehicle within the bounds of the rectangle is staggering. Either the car in the next bay is expecting Mr. Stick Man to pull up in his Stickmobile, or else the car in front is invading so far over the white line that only a Cinqecento parked on its end would be able to park. To these people, perfecting this really-not-too-difficult art would be a worthwhile resolution. Draw three lines on your drive and practise!
It has become quite a ritual around our area for people to push empty plastic sacks through our letterboxes. I think its something to do with charity organisations. They obviously appreciate that residents of new estates can’t get enough sacks. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. It’s a wonderful gesture and the bags come in useful for a myriad of reasons. I was wondering though if these bountiful sack providers could resolve to make the bags a little bit stronger. Some of them are really quite flimsy and tend to rip when you’re hawking things up to the attic.
New Years Resolutions often involve giving things up, and I would maintain that it would be beneficial for all of us if the motorbike department of An Garda Siochana gave up its rather unhealthy interest in the Auburn Avenue roundabout. The mere sight of the white bike propped up on the kerbside makes every driver afraid to encroach into the beautifully drawn box-junctions that decorate that roundabout, with the result that total gridlock ensues. Left to our own devices, the traffic at least moves. Slowly, I’ll allow, but any motion is better than none at all.
The list could go on and on. Interviewees on our national media could refrain from saying, “The reality of the situation is…” Shelf stackers in our supermarkets could give up lining the already packed aisles with trolleys, bins and empty packaging. Checkout girls could take aerobics classes to learn how to make the corners of their mouths turn upwards occasionally. Newspaper editors could surprise their faithful scribes with all-expenses paid trips to the Maldives. Gangs of youths could come to the realisation that hanging around street corners is perhaps not absolutely vital to a well-rounded education, and that gardening is a much more pleasurable exercise. They could still enjoy the camaraderie of hanging around together, but instead use their time more profitably by descending on a local garden and giving the flower beds a thorough weeding.
Yes, the New Year can often be the optimum time to discard old habits and adopt a new approach to life, the universe and everything. A new start, a fresh beginning, the excitement of a challenge. Oh, how I envy people who are not as perfect as myself!