No grandad or gal, but a steady job in windsurfing

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HELLO AGAIN, and Happy New Year. Let's catch up: well, my Christmas went much as I predicted, with every member of the extended Solip family more or less conforming to type, apart from my grandfather, who died. For me this was a doubly tragic event, since it was one of my New Year's resolutions to get to know him better. Now I'll need a new one. I suppose it will end up being the thing about improving my posture, which narrowly missed the cut this year because of my emergency resolution to be 100 per cent millennium bugproof by April.

Although I'm still stuck at my mum's house because of the funeral, I nevertheless tried to put together a little "look back at 1998" by going through the basket of old news-papers next to the fireplace. Unfortunately, the collection is woefully incomplete, and all out of order. After some consideration, I decided that review pieces which rely heavily on last year's "news" always end up routinely rehashing the same minor twists and turns in the political fortunes of a small and remote elite. For me, the personal is the political, as well as the financial, even while it steadfastly remains the personal. This tripartite ideology is the driving force behind The Solip 1998 Year In Review.

January. Julie (not her real name) agrees to my suggestion for a trial separation rather than a break-up, and moves out. I get this thing on my lip that won't go away, then it finally does. Also, my contact lens prescription changes.

February. I embark on a full-scale campaign to get Julie back at any cost, plotting a strategy to prove my devotion to her. Later, I am forced to abandon the hunger strike after only 22 hours, due to an important lunch meeting with a couple of people from Punch. Toward the end of the month, I develop a passion for Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, which ends as quickly as it starts.

March. I notice whatshisname's car parked outside Julie's flat. Next day, when I return her spare ironing board cover, he is there. On the employment front, I get four days' work sub-editing at Top Sante, where I make myself indispensable by personalising the filing system. In the end, they let me go after only one and a half days, due, I believe, to financial constraints. In hindsight, a blessing. Develop cough.

April. Cough ends. Receive what turns out to be the worst haircut of 1998, in a place just off Charlotte Street. Julie allows the official final deadline for an end to the trial separation to lapse without contacting me. I authorise an emergency three-week extension when I discover she is in New York with whatshisname, and notify her by telegram.

May. Not applicable.

June. Not applicable.

July. My continuing struggle with the Visa people comes to an end, when my mum's husband Jerry is forced to pay off the total because the bastards were harassing my mother about the debt. By way of thanks I pay a surprise visit to mum and Jerry in the country, which ends badly. New lamp from Conran shop.

August. Julie remains incommunicado, despite repeated warnings about the looming new final deadline. I write four stunningly suc-cessful columns for the Independent On Sunday, getting tremendous response from readers, both very positive. Despite a last-minute invitation to Tuscany with my brother and his wife, I remain committed to the column, filing two from Italy on my brand new laptop.

September. As windsurfing correspondent for the European, I relish both the challenge of covering a sport about which I know nothing (I didn't tell them that, of course!) and the steady employment that gives me the confidence to double my mortgage. I make a final attempt to convince Julie I've changed my life, but her mother won't give me her new number.

October. Not applicable.

November. Best haircut of 1998. I become increasingly upbeat about my finances, the atmosphere at the European notwithstanding. Begin wine cellar.

December. Julie gets married. I meet with her briefly after her honeymoon. She tearfully insists that under the circumstances, she cannot accept my Christmas present, a diamond engagement ring. After I sing her a bit of "our song", about both people liking breakfast at Tiffany's, by those one-hit-wonders whose name I can never remember, we part friends. I'm invited to write two more successful columns, of which this is the second. Grampy Biggs dies. I hope you found that as cathartic as I did. See you, somehow, somewhere, in 1999!

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