Goodbye resolutions, hello fun-filled fantasy life

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The Independent Culture
Three days left to run and it hasn't worked. None of it. All those resolutions down the drain. I haven't grown up. I still can't think of myself as "Mister" Bywater, I still don't have a pension scheme, a political philosophy or a net worth, nor have I been salsa-dancing or learnt how to get up in the morning without fannying around. I suppose I could make a concentrated effort to achieve everything in the next three days, but I'm tired and I feel sick and the middle finger on my left hand is sort of buzzing - you know, bzzzz bzzzz bzzzz - and anyway they're Old Year's Resolutions now, so tired and so frail, so I'm going to bed.

Next year? I'm not making any resolutions next year. Next year can take care of itself, whatever Ambrose thinks. Ambrose? Oh, you don't want to hear about Ambrose. Ambrose is a sort of fulminating bore who wrote in to say how much he loathed the paper, and me in particular. ("Please refrain from employing weirdos and wankers for journalists...") He was probably having a bad day, poor thing; a vile sexual humiliation, perhaps, or being sacked from some menial job, or maybe Ambrose was hoping to be called in and offered a job, senior foreign correspondent or sports reporter. Or columnist.

It wouldn't work, of course. We couldn't have a columnist called Ambrose. I knew a nice Ambrose once, but this is not that Ambrose. He's an Ambrose, although that's probably not how he started. He probably started off with a good, hopeful, manly name like Biff, Chuck or Sled, until one day the headmaster rang up. "This boy of yours. I'm sorry to tell you that we've been keeping an eye on him and he's not a Biff (or Chuck or Sled) at all. He's ... look, there's no easy way to say this. He's an Ambrose, so I suggest you change his name at once, and prepare him for a lifetime of disenchantment."

Well; it's very sad, and I'd like to say I bear Ambrose no ill-will, but I do. Lots. If Ambrose ever shows his face round here, I'll stick his toothbrush so far down his ... no, I'll stick his toothbrush so far up his ... no, I remember it now, I'll push his teeth so far down his throat that he'll ... he'll be known as Teeth-Down-The-Throat Ambrose for ever after. There.

But you can't help but brood: am I as rotten as Ambrose says I am? I thought a quick trawl through the other Sunday "newspapers" would cheer me up, but instead it scared the hell out of me, because there, in the very first one I opened, was a columnist of such recklessly confessional soul-baring, breast-bearing, almost endoscopic self-revelation that I thought, this is asking for trouble, and not just from Ambrose.

I won't say it wasn't interesting. It was fascinating, like really well- done bowel surgery, but I simply couldn't see how this columnist could get away with it. If I told quite so much unaccommodated truth, things would just turn to vicious slurry about my ears. The bad yellow-eyed woman would cut my throat, none of my bedtime friends (Urchie the loveable hedgehog, Hubert the loveable mole, Aye-Aye, M'sieu Hompe, Marchy, Biggles, Littles and above all Snakey, who is new, a loveable snake for whom I yearn even as I write) would ever snuggle up to me again, my other bedtime friends would never speak to me again, and their husbands and lovers would come round hoping to beat the hell out of me, but fat sodding chance; they'd have to fight their way to my elegantly-appointed Bloomsbury chambers through a crowd of bailiffs, priests, corporate hit-men, Malagasay tax- inspectors, aviation officials, men from the Ministry, CSA emissaries, fruity-voiced PR harpies, homicidal poets, wild-eyed computer programmers and a little old man from Nottingham Market Square, c1968.

I suppose the only two answers are that either (a) the columnist concerned is making it all up or (b) he or she is being paid an amount of money huge enough to make it all worthwhile. At which point, the ghost of an old New Year's Resolution materialised in my mind - This Year, Make Enough Money - and I fell into a reverie about the life I could have if only I had enough money to have that sort of life.

It was wonderful. I had the entire top floor of an office block on Shaftesbury Avenue for my private residence. I gave parties for glamorous people: film producers, Elton John, photographers, women who brought those big dogs along, you know the ones they have, and said, "Oh darling you just must meet Poochie-Pooh!" On the roof was a helicopter for when I got sick of my party. I would get into it and fly to my Gulfstream IV. And then I thought, no, hang on, I'll be the pilot, and then I get to play with the helicopter and the Gulfstream and laugh at the rich bastard behind his back and boff all his women, winning them over with my manly, pilot- type ways.

And then I thought: that's why I never did anything about the resolution, the This Year, Make Enough Money one. I don't have to do anything about it. All I need to do is pretend, and I don't need to go to all that bother of making the money and choosing helicopters and saying things like, "So this is Poochie-Pooh, I've heard a lot about him."

I wouldn't be surprised if the other columnist was up to that old game, too: never mind the money, type out the daydreams. But what a waste to dissemble gloomily about one's own life. How much more fun it would be to dissemble about other people's lives. Normally you'd have to be a novelist and think of plots, but not here. Here, there are no plots and, what's more, I shall do requests. Never mind the feature pages; never mind those terrible "Life In The Day Of" pieces; if there's anyone whose private, interior life you'd like to find out about, let me know and I'll make it up for you: the Queen, Jarvis Cocker, anyone you like. Don't be shy. I draw the line at only two people: Buzz sodding Lightyear is one. And the other? Ambrose. !

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