Mark and Hugh say Happy New Year: resolutions and revolutions

Resolutions and revolutions

Christmas spirit continues and Mark and Hugh now bring some much needed Happy New Year Humour to the New Forest

Mark and Hugh signoff 600x400

Ed Note: A rather different take on New Year Resolutions - which may not be uppermost in your mind currently, but this is fun - and we need everything positive we can get!! By the way we're keeping Mark and Hugh's Christmas personas going a little longer because we've now learned that traditionally decorations were kept until Candelmas...and if any year is the one to do it, this surely has to be it!

Resolution or revolution?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary a resolution is a promise to yourself to do or not to do something.

New Year resolutions come in many forms but typically they stem from a desire to improve our lives by addressing a matter which might have been ignored for some time. Smokers might choose to cut back or quit. Drinkers often pledge to go dry for January. Gardeners are determined that they will fix the leaking shed roof and finally find a better use for that old galvanised bucket than collecting raindrops. The forest of brambles which has steadily been creeping towards the house, threatening to engulf it, will be slain. The punctured wheelbarrow tyre which needs to be pumped up before it can be used will finally be repaired. The secateurs which you will need to slay the bramble beast were rusted shut long ago due to the leaking roof. This situation will remain unchanged until you finally remember to buy some repair tape in order to do the job. Well after all, it’s only been three years and it’s not good to rush a job. Resolutions can be tough work!

‘It’s no use us prevaricating about the bush!’

For those of who are fans of Wallace and Gromit this will be a well-loved phrase. For others, perhaps watch one of their films and let a little silliness into your lives, you’ll find it good for the soul.

When it comes down to it, new year resolutions are simply a mechanism that we use in order to galvanise our pitifully weak will. We habitually put things off until we have to do them. Why, on a bitterly cold morning, do we force ourselves to leave the warm embrace of our comfy bed? The steering wheel will be like a block of ice and you know full well that when you finally get to work that strong men with pliers will be summoned in order to peel away your frozen fingers. The windscreen is covered with what appears to be a small glacier that will need ten minutes with a jackhammer and fifteen tins of de-icer to clear. Why didn’t we stay in bed? The mortgage, that’s why. We tend to do what we have to do. The shed roof is a nuisance not necessary and given the choice between a pint at the local or grappling with roof felt repair tape, whilst balancing on a rickety step ladder, well what would you plump for?

There are teams in this game of life that we compete in.

You’ve all stood on a netball court or football field with an icy wind blasting up your school shorts and teeth chattering as the team captains choose their members. If you were anything like me it was a long wait as the talented and quick were chosen first. Those in my very low division were always the lonely derided last. Let’s try to imagine the team captains for the two opposing teams of life.

On one side we have Team Alpha led by an imaginary party leader who has a lantern jaw and a superb work ethic. He is a lawyer who as a student revised long into the night in order to achieve his aim, he drinks in moderation and keeps himself trim. He is determined, handsome, faithful to his family and a god to those who support him. This person can be relied upon absolutely and mothers across the land swoon at the mention of his name.

On the other side we have Team Beta led by another imaginary party leader who sports a rather wobbly jaw, has a pear like figure and a debatable work ethic. He could have revised long and hard in order to gain a professional qualification but chose instead an esoteric topic which allowed him the time he needed to ransack restaurants. Flaky under pressure, jovial and a womaniser, a joy at parties, always funny and he never ever takes life too seriously. He drinks heroically and, dear lady reader, your mother advises you to never be alone with him under any circumstances.

The wonderful Peter Ustinov who is my favourite raconteur revelled in his sporting incompetence. Not for him the hours spent in the cricket nets or on the football field. Ustinov was so successful at being unsuccessful that he was effectively barred from all teams. This suited him perfectly. He told of a tale where he was nominated as the scorer for his school cricket team (there being nothing else suited to him). His opposite number struggled with the score book and as a gesture of charity Ustinov offered to score for him. Despite a pitiful performance, Ustinov’s school won. He recalled that his headmaster was so corrupt that he ensured Ustinov was the scorer for subsequent matches. Ustinov is in Team Beta.

David Niven who was another brilliant raconteur realised quite early on in his army career that there was little chance of promotion in his small Scottish regiment. As a result, he teamed up with a chap who was a confirmed member of Team Beta and proceeded to treat his whole career as an extended party. He also enjoyed the added bonus of a retinue of bored officers’ wives. Niven could only ever be in Team Beta.

Why be good?

In terms of the topic which is resolution, what do you expect me to say? Do you want me to say that, yes, it is good to deprive one’s self? That it is noble and honourable to commit to a vow of self-sacrifice? Of course not. Why would I ever inflict that upon you?

In my opinion it is glorious to fail. When we set ourselves these goals we deserve to fail because we are human. It is a story of human fallibility to write a carefully penned note on the 2021 calendar saying ‘stopped drinking today, only thirty days to go’ when in fact just moments after the ink has dried you find yourself reaching for the sherry decanter. Only the truly dreary, the impossibly dull, the death of any party will ever go through with it to the bitter end, and bitter it is. Speak to one who has managed to stick to their promise on the thirtieth of January and you would be well advised to wear protective clothing.

There is a place for everyone.

If I were to choose a team leader for my bank manager it would not be the leader of Team Beta. He would have taken my money and run off with my wife before sunset. No, it would be the worthy but dull leader of Team Alpha. There my money would be safe. In Team Alpha I would find security, reliability and honesty. In truth though I would be better off employing my local landlord as my bank manager, after all, he gets most of it anyway. The leader of Team Beta has his place though because in times of national strife we need a cheering voice. We crave not the stentorian authoritative tone of the worthy but dull leader of Team Alpha. Instead, our souls crave the bumbling, the amateur, the hopeless and the amusing ramblings of the leader of Team Beta. In life, everyone has their place and time.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a vow broken.

By now you will have made your new year resolutions. You might be fretting inside as you worry about what you might be able to achieve, about what you might benefit from the most. Take a tip from your scribbler and don’t fret one bit. Brag to your friends that you are going to become the most incredible sober bore for thirty days. That you are to become a runner or cyclist and that they will be SO interested in your weekly mileage. Please brag away but I beg you, under no circumstances fulfil that vow because it is a sin against sociability. Your friends need you back as you were before which is not self-absorbed and dull but joyful and appreciative of life.

Please, just for me, make that vow, then as soon as possible, break it.

Have fun and have a happy new year.

cartoon men at bar with beer


"You’re breaking your resolution, not the pandemic"

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More tales and cartoons for Lymington and the New Forest from Mark and Hugh

If you'd like to read previous articles on diverse subjects written by Mark and illustrated by Hugh's cartoons here they are, click the links embedded in the titles:

Merry Christmas 2020
What our cars say about us

The litter pickers of the New Forest

A roof over your New Forest head

Richard St Barbe Baker

Our star, our sun, our salt!
To Lymington or Cuba
The Auld Mug

Seeds of success

Moonlit meeting with cetaceans 

Trees and what they tell us
Cartography and trig pillars

Pony drifts and pannage in the New Forest
A journey from the New Forest via Lymington
The brilliance - and persistence - of Marconi

Equality in the skies
Bees pollinators par excellence 
Cordless home entertainment

The joy of sheds

When the Isle of Wight was just Wight
Bucklers Hard

Salisbury Cathedral 
Pond Life in our Forests 
Bombs Away 
Baileys Hard 
Rufus Stone and Sir Walter Tyrrell
Graffiti through the ages
Freedom of the roads
Heath fires
Lymington Lido
Watch the birdie
Unstoppable momentum of nature
Socially distanced socialising
Calshot Spit, a curse for mariners...



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