I have in the past been reluctant to make - or at least, to publicly announce - new year's resolutions. However, this year I find that some ideas have come to me at around the right time to embark hopefully upon certain causes of self improvement. Resolutions fall into two categories - positive action, and self-denial. I have one in the first category, one and a bit in the sceond, and a bit of each.
1. I will not buy any clothes in 2014. This will probably be the hardest to keep. It began as a pledge to stop browsing and impulsively buying in charity shops, but really, there can't be anything I'll need in the next twelve months that can't wait. I half expect this one to falter, but let's see how long it will last.
2. I will go vegan (diet wise, that is; I'm not chucking out perfectly good clothes and shoes, although of course I won't be buying any either) for January at least. To commit to a whole year might seem too big a step (although I have done it before, for eighteen months, and it was surprisingly easy). The hard part will come when we are boating and have to (!) eat in pubs.
3. In conjunction with 2, I will not drink beer in January (yes, I know most beer isn't vegan anyway, but that along with wine was the one exception I used to allow myself). The idea is that 2 and 3 combined will lead me to becoming svelte, although I don't know why as I managed previously to be the world's only fat vegan. I hesitate to admit to giving up beer, and this one is definitely only temporary, but I have had rather a lot lately. There's no teaching in January, and little socialising forecast, so that shouldn't be too hard.
4. I will read fewer trashy detective novels (mainly because I've run out of authors) and more grown up books with matt finish covers.
5. And - the big positive one - I am resolved that 2014 will be the year I get to grips with the cryptic crossword, and enjoy all its entertaining and brain-rejuvenating benefits. This has been directly inspired by Diamond Geezer's centenary crossword, but is an ambition I can trace back to sixth form, when one of the teachers started a crossword club, and promised to initiate us into the mysteries of the cryptic clue. I don't know why I stopped going after one week - perhaps it all just seemed too hard - but ever since then I've had an awareness that solving these clues is a skill that can be learnt, and that it's something I ought to be good at. So I had a go at the Guardian one yesterday. I got off to a heartening start by identifying and then solving all the anagrams, and surprised myself by completing more than half of it over the next twenty four hours. When I got the answers this morning, I could understand how most of them worked. I have also ordered a couple of books which I hope will be helpful. Today's Guardian one (set by Shed) seems a lot harder and I've not made any progress yet, so thanks to Rufus for getting me off to a good start.
I will provide progress reports of the success or failure of all these ventures.
Meanwhile, it only remains to wish you your heart's desire in 2014.