Terence Blacker: Let Uncle Terence unlock the new you for 2002

'Why do you dream of your new media buyer, of clearing your desk for him with flailing, ecstatic hands?'
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The Independent Online

Oh dear, you look terrible. Parts of your face seem to have imploded while others are rather disgustingly prominent, like melting snowdrifts. You were out last night presumably. You mixed your drinks, your punch-lines – maybe even your partners. Or perhaps you went to bed at ten o'clock in a New Year's Eve sulk, and you always look like this.

Oh dear, you look terrible. Parts of your face seem to have imploded while others are rather disgustingly prominent, like melting snowdrifts. You were out last night presumably. You mixed your drinks, your punch-lines – maybe even your partners. Or perhaps you went to bed at ten o'clock in a New Year's Eve sulk, and you always look like this.

But wake up, it's a brand new year, a time for resolution and hope. In 2002, the idea that you can actually change the direction of your life on 1 January will turn out to be more than yet another illusion. Modern-minded folk will know that it is pointless to look into the future with the help of Old Moore's Almanac or any of those ridiculous astrologers who, with the exception of the Independent on Sunday's spookily prescient Poppy Folly, are overpaid frauds.

Your future lies within yourself. Deep down, you know that, but, just in case you are in denial, these basic guidelines should be kept and referred to throughout the coming year.

Man, married with children
Funnily enough, you are in denial. You think you can maintain this balancing act, the experienced marital juggler. Up goes the wife, then the job, then the kids and – wahay! – there goes the mistress. And they say that men are bad at multi-tasking! This year you will discover that you can't keep all those balls in the air. Or that at least, as soon as you start thinking about it, collapse and humiliation are only a matter of time.
Advice for 2002: Slow down, relax. Give up jogging.

Woman, married with children
You should be happy. Every day, you repeat the gospel according to Helen Gurley Brown – I have it all , I have it all. Yet somehow all is not quite enough. You have two children, a husband who keeps himself in trim by going for lengthy jogs twice a week, a decently paid job. So why do you dream of working late with your new media buyer, of fitting him intimately into your busy schedule, of clearing your desk for him with flailing, ecstatic hands? Is that so wrong? You've earnt it, after all.
Advice for 2002: Try it if you must but, believe me, it won't work. You'll wish you had stuck to the exercise bike.

Child, with two busy parents
Quality time, they call it. So why is it that dad reads to you at a million miles an hour in his track suit? What is it about work that makes mum return home with that weird, flushed look on her face, incapable of cooking even a frozen pizza without burning it? They are normal parents, of course, but these days that is hardly a recommendation
Advice for 2002: Start whimpering for a little brother or sister. That will slow them down.

Mistress, with two married lovers
You know it's not right. One you could explain away; two begins to look like the beginning of a habit. In 2001 you justified your behaviour on the grounds that, in terms of time and effort, two affairs were more or less the equivalent of one relationship, but, frankly, hearing the jogger pant up the stairs, with his ridiculous dog in tow, has begun to feel like work, and the other one's trips to London are becoming tiresomely frequent.
Advice for 2002: Try looking for sex, conversation and a social life with the same person. Now and then, it can work.

Male employee, no girlfriend
She hangs around your desk, exuding yukky pheromones and dropping grisly double entendres. You've put a vase of cut flowers on your desk, left around copies of an Alan Hollinghurst novel, even grown a moustache, but nothing puts her off.
Advice for 2002: Try introducing her to your boyfriend.

Dog, attached
Rather too much exercise – that was 2001 for you. It was the year when your owner became weirdly obsessed with taking you for evening jogs that always ended up in the same flat where he invariably played the bouncing game with his new friend while you had to wait around without even any water.
Advice for 2002: Hold yourself in until you reach the flat, then express yourself liberally on the carpet. You were an alibi. Now, thanks to your glorious mess, you are a metaphor for life.

terblacker@aol.com

Miles Kington is on holiday

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