Monday, 3 January 2011

Happy New Year.

I’ll not trouble you with the details, but the desire to write something witty and insightful is tempered somewhat by the fact that I am currently in a bad mood. Oh, no change there then Paulie, as those who know me well may say, but surely this is not the winning attitude with which to start the New Year? Ah well, in that case my best solution is: head down and keep writing. 
Over Christmastide I’ve written some small pieces of music, listened to a good deal more by other people and I was going to place hands to Mac keyboard to turn in a brief, passionate essay on some aspect of all the music I have been absorbing. I may yet do this in the coming days. However, like most of us at this time of year, one’s thoughts turn, not to the Commonwealth (silly), but to this matter of New Year’s Resolutions. 
Not for the first time do I find myself oscillating wildly as to the observance of this ritual. I’ve had years where I have written an epic list of commandments calling to account multifarious habits, vices and indulgences that I Shalt Not Do Unto Myself any longer. Alternatively, it would consist of honourable, self-improving and possibly even exciting things that I Shalt Do instead. Other years, I have felt sufficient, sanguine self-righteousness not to give the whole game a second thought. Haven’t we all?
Sad to relate this year, as I’m sure it is for many of you, the current financial climate renders it all-too-easy to enforce a cessation of certain small fleshly pleasures (try saying that in a Brian Sewell voice). My semi-self-enforced miserliness ensures that I am not frequenting my usual hostelries with my usual, if you will, frequency. This has an immediate twofold effect, being beneficial to both my liver and my bank balance, each of whom get a chance to breathe a little more freely, so to speak. This in turn has rendered my silhouette somewhat along slightly sleeker lines than is my customary corpulence, which can only ever be a good thing. There is, of course, an unfortunate, less social side to all this restraint and sobriety, but as the benefits are instantly, gratifyingly apparent, the secondary action is of little consequence. Most elegantly, it also means I get to cook all sorts of tasty things at home for me and Mrs M instead, and I can spend more time writing things. There you go — diet, drinking, overspending and writer’s block, all nixed in one simple, single dose. Get me.
Anyway, this year, as a reflection of this galloping penury and creeping parsimony, my New Year’s Resolutions do not need to deal with material issues as much as with the abstract: ‘speak up more often’, ‘don’t suffer fools gladly’, ‘don’t get angry when you can sooner walk away’ and so on — the sort of presentiments that only need to be engendered should opportunity arise, as opposed to a sustained regime of fitness or abstinence. On paper, these Resolutions sound rather worthy, slightly pompous, possibly passive, definitely vague, and ultimately — worst of all — dull. How much more dynamic I could be, setting myself a concrete, albeit modest, challenge of say, walking a brisk mile every day, cutting down on booze or even leaving the sugar out of my coffee. How much more noticeable and inspiring? Something we can all applaud on eventual success — or commiserate and castigate on failure? 
Probably — but I suspect my resolutions may be harder to stick to, with their positive effects only noticeable with the passing of time and the wisdom of hindsight. Besides, it’s so very cheap to think, it really is; as such, it’s an activity of the highest value. 
Between you and me though, I’m fairly certain that I’ve probably thought too hard and for too long on the  entire matter now. So I shall curtail any further spending instantly, and wish you good day.
One last word on the idea of abstinence: I am shameless and pleased when I confess that not even so much as an unlit ciggie has passed my lips since mid-October 2009. I may live in a world of ever-increasing uncertainty and craziness, so I tell myself, but in this one respect can I succeed in imposing a small degree of order upon the chaos of my life. Yet before you turn away in disgust at my (undeniable!) smugness at this pronouncement, I promise I will outline the plan of mental action I laid out to achieve this complete and instant end to my  nicotine addiction in a future blog. It may be of use to some! 
In the meantime, this coming year — be good to yourself, and if you can’t manage that, make sure that you be kind at least. I wish you good things in 2011, whether it’s a whole new year for you or just more of the same, and adherence to any resolutions you may keep!
Currently listening to: 
For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (Caravan, 1973)
The War Of The Worlds (Jeff Wayne, 1978)
Michael Praetorius: Mass for Christmas Night, 1610 (Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh, 1994)
The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, each morning — with a growing sense of dread: the News at the moment seems particularly bleak.
Currently reading: 
Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music (Rob Young, 2010)
Currently watching:  
Swiss Toni, (BBC, 2003-2004)
Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes (BBC, 1969)
The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Granada TV, 1984-1994)


  1. Some years you crash, some you ride. Sometimes you do a bit of both, usually with a 2:1 ride-to-crash ratio. Discipline is the key resolution for me this year I think, in many senses of the word. Nice, thoughtful blog Paulie - I look forward to more! But first...

  2. I'm really of the frame of mind these past few years that I should always try to think the best of everyone. Oftentimes (sic) I get stopped by a guy (not the same guy each time) that catches me in my car outside Safeway, or some other large car park, and says, "I've run out of gas, can your spare some change so I can go get some". The frequency with which dishevelled people seem to run out of petrol is surprising. Of course, I know it's just his chosen line to beg for money, but at least these people create a back story. I usually hand over some coins from the convenient compartment by the hand brake and wish him well.

    Have I been taken for a ride? No, I know what the game is.

    Am I really badly out of pocket? Well, those quarters and nickels were just sitting there, and I just spent $7 on a tuna Subway.

    Will the guy have to answer for his tall story one day? Probably, but that's his responsibility.

    Maybe he'll go buy some food, or maybe he'll go buy some drugs. The choices are his. My decisions to do good shouldn't be conditional on other people. So, I'm trying to be nicer and less sardonic these days.

  3. Thanks James! Very kind of you to say so.

    I'm afraid I'm getting cantankerous in my old age, Chris. Events across the last few years have conspired to wear away some of the good humour for which I was so rightly known!