New Year Resolutions for 2012

I’m usually quite good at making new year resolutions. What I’m not so good at is keeping them. Over the years they’ve mostly consisted of less food and less fags. As you can see that hasn’t really been a great success. In fact, all it did was set me up to fail. Oh I have given up the fags but as soon as the weight piled on I started again in the vain hope that the weight would fall off as if by magic. This never happened, by the way.

This year it might be better to be a bit more vague, I reckon.

  1. More reading is definitely high on the list. I now have a huge bookcase and a Kindle which are full of unread books. I’d like to do a Susan Hill and make a vow to never buy another book this year and just read the ones I have, but I know that ain’t gonna happen. However, what I can do is make more time to watch less rubbish on TV and read more.
  2. More blogging is another must for this year. Last year I’m not sure why there were so many large gaps in my blogging but I somehow got out of the way. But blogging is mission and mission is high on our priorities here at Christ Church this year so the blogging must improve.
  3. More financial restraint is another must for this year. Already I have made some of my own Christmass presents and nobody threw up their hands in horror at the sight of a homemade fancy scarf.  I have removed myself from all the tempting emails that come in telling me of Emma Bridgewater, Molton Brown, Radley sales etc. I don’t need more handbags or shoes. I may want more, but I don’t need more. And I’m going to keep telling myself that. Really, I am.
  4. More time with God might not be a bad thing either. I’ve loved doing the Daily Office during Advent with others, and will do that in Lent again. But I shall make sure I get a retreat this year and take all my holidays. I might even start something new in church for those who seek silence and quiet time.

I think that’ll do for now. So what are yours?

And do you have any predictions? I’m sure you can predict which of my new year resolutions will be broken by February. I see that a certain Provost has published his again this year.  (Without the help of Paul the Octopus, I’m told.) Have a look and see what you think. His first prediction affects those of us in the Edinburgh Diocese.

New Year Resolutions

I don’t think I am in the habit of making new year resolutions unless you count the usual ‘lose weight, exercise more’ kind. And if you know me, then you’ll also know that these resolutions were forgotten long before the wise men even appeared. But this week I’ve had a lot of plans going round my head so let’s see if I record them, then they actually come to fruition.

  1. Learn how to make bread. There was an attempt at this last year and it never took off so this year I am adamant that I shall learn the kneading thing.
  2. Get back into knitting some prayer shawls. I have the wool and while the cat sleeps…
  3. Diary some time for reading ‘serious’ books. It is work after all.
  4. Teach myself Powerpoint. Yes, I know everyone in the world knows how to do it but I’ve never really had time to sit and play. This year I shall.
  5. I have invested in a Slow Cooker so this year I am going to cook more (well, just cook actually) and not rely on ready-made meals when Son #1 is not around to cook for me.

Books what I have read

Ever since I re-read the Chronicles of Narnia this Lent, I have been enjoying reading some children’s books. There is something about their directness, their sense of mystery and magic that really makes them rather special.  (In fact, this morning I was reminiscing about The Velveteen Rabbit and our need to be ‘real’ at the Feast of All Saints.) We had a first meeting of our new Book Group this week and it got me thinking to when I started reading. I always had my nose in a book as a child and when my mum sent me to my room for some misdemeanour it was never really the punishment she thought, for I was quite happy to curl up in the old brown leather armchair and escape into another world. Like most children of my generation my first books were by Enid Blyton. Oh how I wished I could go to boarding school like the twins at Mallory Towers. My friend Valerie and I spent all our pocket money on disguises in the joke shop on Forrest Road so that we too could solve crimes like the Secret Seven, although quite how we thought anybody would be fooled by a rather pathetic acrylic beard beats me. Then there were the Famous Five and lashings of custard and apple pie from complete strangers in those oh so innocent times. (I could always relate to George.)

As a teenager I progressed to whatever my mum was reading which was Georgette Heyer and then Daphne du Maurier. At an all girl’s school we were starved of male attention so any romance was lived out on the pages of bodice rippers. Mum had a series of classics from the Reader’s Digest and I worked my way through the greats like Pride and Prejudice, The Woman in White, and Jane Eyre. I remember a series of books about Catherine someone which I thought were quite racy and we passed them round the classroom, desperate to find out what happened after she was kidnapped by that handsome but loathsome pirate. Then there were the Mandingo books set during the time of slavery in the deep south which opened our eyes to another world – and a bit of steamy sex, although I imagine it was all fairly tame really.

But it wasn’t all girly stuff that caught my imagination. James Bond was my real hero and they could be found at any Sale of Work in a dusty church hall for a few pennies. Soon I had collected them all and my best friend Joey and I would trot along to the Playhouse almost every Saturday afternoon for a double bill of 007 (one of which was nearly always Thunderball, and as a result I know the script almost off by heart).  Alistair McLean’s adventure novels came next and I discovered the joys of the whodunnit with Agatha Christie.

From then on I became a voracious reader – anything and everything would do. Until recently, if I started a book I always finished it – no matter how bad it was. Those days are gone now. Life is too short and the charity shop too convenient to waste time on reading something that doesn’t grab me. Funnily enough, apart from using the library as a teenager I’ve never really got into that. I love having my own book, even if secondhand, to go back to or lend. (As a result my accountant still queries how much I’ve spent on books in a year!)

But back to children’s books. Lately I’ve read Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker on the recommendation, and given to me by J & L at St Mark’s. It tells the story of Julilly and her friend Liza who escape slavery on a Mississippi plantation and travel on the ‘underground’ railway which helps escaped slaves reach Canada. Now I never knew that there was no slavery in Canada and that some of those spiritual songs that spoke of a promised land were not talking about heaven but about the real country where slaves were free. A good history book couched in a great escape story.

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo (who is rapidly becoming my favourite children’s author) is a kind of modern Robinson Crusoe story for young people. Michael’s parents decide to take him out of school for a year to sail round the world. The inevitable storm washes Michael up on an island in the Pacific where he struggles to survive on his own. With no food or water he curls up to die but when he wakes there is a plate beside him of fish and fruit and fresh water. He is not alone… A great read or read aloud book.

One of the girls at church has suggested that I might like the Twilight series so, against my better judgement it has to be said, I am now the proud owner of the first book on my Kindle. But more of that another day…