An exclusive Independent readers' offer: New Year's resolutions even you can keep

To visit a total stranger in hospital and keep telling her you hardly recognise her

WHEN DID you last make a New Year's resolution and keep it? Not for a long time. If ever. And I'll tell you why. It's because we all make resolutions to cure the worst part of our behaviour. In other words, we make the resolutions that are least likely to be kept, because they are the hardest.

An untidy person resolves to be tidy and an overweight person to eat less. Fat chance. Ten days later the mess is as bad as ever and the diet forgotten.

So here's what you must do. You must make a resolution which you will find easy to keep. And the best way to do that is choose a resolution at random. How do you make a resolution at random? Easy. You pick one from the following list of resolutions, randomly provided by our tireless Independent computer.

Just stick a pin in the piece and make a solemn oath to keep whatever oath fate lands you win. Here we go, then. Say after me: I resolve...

If overweight, to be tidier.

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If untidy, to eat less.

To buy no more books until I have read all the books I already possess.

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To throw out all the dried spices on my kitchen either which are more than 10 years old or which I cannot identify with a blindfold sniff.

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To buy my produce at little High Street shops until Safeways has gone bankrupt, or at least until I am forced to go back to Safeways because there were no bloody aubergines in the bloody High Street.

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To give up reading any articles which are headed: "New Labour, new rift" or "Cancer cure breakthrough" or "African fossil find leads to rethink on human origins".

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To boldly split infinitives without a qualm.

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Not to use such pointless time-wasting expressions as "as it were", "as it might be", "as such" or "if you like".

Never again to sing "My Way", or any part of it.

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To smile at drivers who cut in front of me and discover that road radiance is even more effective (ie annoying) than road rage.

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To get rid of all Ordnance Survey maps more than 10 years old, unless they are more than 50 years old and therefore getting valuable again.

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To practise my signature until it begins to look something like the scrawl on my credit cards again.

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To give up reading all articles headed "BBC reshuffle spells new threat to radio", "Sports supremo promises massive shake-up" or "TV documentary was fixed".

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To go carol singing next year, but singing only carols in French.

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When asked what I want to drink in a pub, to say "The unusual, please" and then to try something new for a change.

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To ruthlessly reduce the number of keys on my key-ring by half.

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Never to vote in any personality of the year contest, or anything which involves ringing one number for Yes and another for No.

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To phone up a prostitute's telephone number and try to sell her double glazing.

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To avoid all articles headed: "New ways with noodles" or "Open up that attic" or "Ten uses for a converted church".

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To think up 10 more valid uses to which cotton buds can be put.

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To visit a total stranger in hospital and keep telling her you hardly recognise her.

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To ask people if they have noticed that nobody seems to be discussing Peter Mandelson's sexuality any more.

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Never to call anything "the new rock'n'roll".

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