You say you want a resolution? Ben Fitzgerald may have a few thoughts on that…

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The trouble with deciding on a New Year resolution is that it is almost impossible to choose one you can stick to.

For years I’ve been resolving to give up bad habits, of which I have many. These include reading low-brow novels, playing violent computer games and eating Pringles whilst driving.

The longest I’ve lasted is two whole weeks, when I once tried to give up exaggeration – it was a total living nightmare.

Smokers have it easy. The choice is staring them in the face, almost literally, what with those pictures of blackened lungs on the front of cigarette packets. I’m not a smoker, I’ve smoked eight cigarettes in my life, badly. However eating Pringles while driving is actually eight times more dangerous than smoking – I tried it once and it nearly killed me.

I was reaching with my left hand into a tube of the hyperbolic paraboloid shaped snack (Texas BBQ flavour since you ask –

(as opposed to Rainy English BBQ flavour)) while undertaking a rash overtaking manoeuvre.

Much to my horror I realised I had delved too deeply and the tube was now wedged tightly onto my hand like a metaphor for my greed. I urgently needed to change gear, but instead of a hand I now had a foot-long cylinder – almost entirely useless for operating a gear stick with.

I ground along in third gear in what has officially been recorded as the slowest ever overtaking attempt since the invention of the glove box.

The truck driver seemed to be pointing to something on his roof with his middle finger

I couldn’t see anything on his roof but I cheerfully answered with a wave of my tube hand. So there’s always ‘not eating Pringles without due care and attention’ to fall back on as a resolution, but I know I will never stick to it (they’re just too damn tasty).

This year I shall be taking inspiration from resolutions of famous people of yesteryear.

Some of the best I’ve found are the ‘virtues’ of Jonathan Swift, the man who wrote Gulliver’s Travels  the story about a big man being washed up on an island populated by very little people. Brilliant!

Having hit on a cracking idea, he flipped the whole thing around and had the big man being washed up on another island where he encountered some even bigger people. Amazing!

Swift’s less successful third outing, which sees his hero Gulliver being washed up on another island, where everyone is of medium height, never really took off and he died in poverty, rejected and alone.

So here’s his edited list written in 1699, entitled ‘when I come to be old’ which rings just as true now as then…

Not to marry a young woman – This is really sound advice. I’m already married and my wonderful wife would flip her ruddy lid if I absentmindedly got married again. I’m always forgetting things and she gets furious enough when I leave for work without putting any trousers on. It’s a good one for the resolution shortlist.

Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it – I’m totally down with this idea – in fact I would probably go one further and add that it’s a good idea to avoid young company at all costs – even if they do ‘reely’ desire it. Young people are rubbish, their taste in music is, at best, misguided and at worst, Little Mix.

Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious – I disagree with Mr Swift on this one, what with all the stuff that’s going in the world, there’s never been a better reason to go around being suspicious, morose and especially peevish. Peevish is my normal resting state.

Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, etc – you can see that Swifty is running a bit short of ideas at this point. He’s saying that we shouldn’t go around scorning things – like… you know… all the things… Wars and Men and Wits and that. We can forget this one.

Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly – I get the impression that he’s now being interrupted by some bloody children while he’s trying to bulk out his list of resolution ideas. I understand where he is coming from, but he is beginning to repeat himself.

Not to tell the same story over and over to the same people – Unless you include stories about different sized people being washed up on islands presumably.

Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness – probably a bit late for this one. I think I fell into some nastyness when I was walking to the corner shop to pick up some milk. These shoes are done for now, you just can’t get rid of the smell.

These are all pretty unhelpful, apart from the first one. But just when I was about to give up I stumbled across a list of 33 cracking resolutions by folk singer Woody Guthrie. Problem solved. You could throw a dart at any one of these and it will give you a rule to live by. Here’s the list..

Woody’s list

1. Work more and better

2. Work by a schedule

3. Wash teeth if any

4. Shave

5. Take bath

6. Eat good, fruit, vegetables, milk

7. Drink very scant if any

8. Write a song a day

9. Wear clean clothes — look good

10. Shine shoes

11. Change socks

12. Change bed cloths often

13. Read lots good books

14. Listen to radio a lot

15. Learn people better

16. Keep rancho clean

17. Don’t get lonesome

18. Stay glad

19. Keep hoping machine running

20. Dream good

21. Bank all extra money

22. Save dough

23. Have company but don’t waste time

24. Send Mary and kids money

25. Play and sing good

26. Dance better

27. Help win war — beat fascism

28. Love Mama

29. Love Papa

30. Love Pete

31. Love everybody

32. Make up your mind

33. Wake up and fight

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