January 2024 Writing

By | January 8, 2024

We were set the challenge of writing about new year resolutions. Here are a couple of the submissions.

New Year’s Resolution


My New Year’s Resolution was to be a more courteous driver. It was the 3rd January and I had reluctantly driven my wife to our local retail park for some ‘bargain hunting’. The car park was packed. I patiently drove round and round until I spotted a vacant space. I drove past it and began to reverse. A large BMW suddenly appeared in my rear view mirror and drove straight into MY SPACE! I felt my anger rising; I shouted abuse at the driver. He ignored me. My wife looked at me and tutted. Oh well! There’s always next year!


New Year Resolution


Preparing our New Year’s Day supper I listen with half an ear to Radio 4. Chatter, chatter ….Conflict resolution, chatter, chatter … We’ll finish with advice from our professional negotiator. What would you suggest listeners take away from this programme? A female voice replies and compels me to stop chopping.

‘Listening’, she says, ‘is the most important’,

Well that’s what I’m doing now.

‘Remember it’s not all about you.’ OK, that seems reasonable.

‘Wait your turn in the conversation.’ Well, that’s polite but is it so important?

I pause to write these down. The party, as well as being a ritual get-together for our group of friends, includes the setting of new year resolutions, not by the individual, but by the group. We’ve known each other so long and so well that we feel confident that we can predict an improvement for each other.

Much later the table is set, the food is ready. Just six of us will be eating together this year. We’ve done this for some twenty years. With some changes of course, that’s our modern world for you. We started with eight friends, all newly married couples. One couple emigrated and made a new home in Canada. A divorce took out one and brought a new partner in, that’s Rob and Emma. Changing jobs took two out and only one returned. Steve’s still single but is bringing a friend to meet us, all we know is the name – Sam. But is it a Samantha or a Samuel? More importantly, will he or she eat the beef casserole or not? And then there’s me, Mel, and husband Richard of course ready to celebrate our 25th anniversary this spring. If he stays sober, we’ll work as a team this evening, pouring, serving, clearing away then, with a plate of cheese in front of us, we’ll settle down to the Resolutions.

The guests arrive, hands full of gifts. I’m occupied with coats and welcoming drinks. Richard is full of bonhomie and greetings, complimenting the ladies on their dresses, hair, perfume, flirting with each of them in his familiar way, settling everyone down while I finish off the meal.

Sam is a pretty little woman, with curly hair and bright blue eyes. So unlike Steve’s tall, elegant first wife. Now it’s introductions all round for her benefit. Rob and Emma have been together for ages now and seem rock solid.

The meal is consumed with much enjoyment and lots of good conversation. No dissent over the beef – a relief, but my creme brûlée causes some concern over the creme content. Fortunately, there is a portion of trifle left, accepted as an alternative. Trifle, with cream and custard – I ask you!

Then we settle down with the cheese, more drinks and a big sheet of paper. This is the moment when I realise that Steve hasn’t mentioned our ritual to Sam and the explanation takes a few minutes. Her reaction is hostile. How, she says, can she join in when she’s only just met most of us: we don’t know her and she doesn’t know anything at all about us? She has a point so we give her a bye for this year and hope she enjoys the discussion.

Straws are drawn and Richard is first. His face by now is flushed and speech slurred. I know his drinking has increased but he usually knows his limits. I’m more than a little anxious.

The person on his left is Emma, who knows us all really well. ‘My resolution for you, my friend, is to cut down on your drinking. It’s getting out of hand.’ Richard looks annoyed but says nothing. Steve is in next. ‘I’m suggesting you take more exercise, join the gym, go swimming, ease up on the alcohol.’ Richard looks hostile now. ‘Don’t be ridiculous. I’m perfectly fit, there’s no problem with my drinking.’

Rob offers his suggestion. ‘I’m concerned about your drinking too mate, you’re getting so dogmatic and offensive after a few drinks, we’ve all noticed it. Sometimes you give Mel a really hard time.’ My husband looks round at me with pleading eyes, shall I put the dagger in as well? It was my turn in the conversation and I’d listened really carefully. He wouldn’t take it well but honesty was suddenly the most important thing.

‘It’s true, they are all right, you’ve crossed a line with your drinking and I’m worried about the way it’s affecting your health.’ He swears horribly and pours himself another large glass of port. His fingers are clumsy, the glass tips over, port trickling down towards Sam’s chair. Richard stumbles from the room as she snatches up two napkins and mops the flood. ‘May I say something?’ she says and her voice is low. ‘This is developing into a conflict. You all have the best intentions but the conversation must be managed. You must listen to what Richard says. Remember that it’s not about you.’

‘And we must wait our turn in the conversation – I heard you on the radio this morning.’ I say, ‘I recognise your voice now. Will you help us to get the message across?’

‘He needs professional support and I’m going to give you a contact number for Alcoholics Anonymous. He must accept that he has a problem, then he must say it aloud in front of a group who will understand and guide him.’ Silence – as we take in the implications of her words. Then she says quietly, ‘I know what I’m talking about, I’m not just the driver this evening, or a Conflict Resolution expert, I’m also a recovering alcoholic.’ 

Last Updated on January 8, 2024