Hats off to Lewes Rotary Club, say I. Not for their good works, particularly, though I’m sure they do lots of those, and fund-raising, and, er, other stuff. Are they the funny handshake people or is that a different crew?
Anyway, grateful salutations to them, for collecting Christmas trees on January 3rd, thus bringing to an early halt the interminable festive season. Mine has been going on since Waitrose guilt-tripped me into buying mince pies in August. After 140 days of Christmas it seemed I would just segue smoothly into the run-up to next year’s Yuletide, without any intervening tinsel-free buffer zone. I was saved from this fate by the tough love of the Rotary Club, who dragged the tree from my arms, crushing baubles underfoot, and brought me to my senses.
So I’m now ready for a new January, a new year. Here I sit, snow at the window, my scratchy bic biro in hand, to make my resolutions. The first couple are easy. Resolution 1: Buy a new biro. Resolution 2: Stop pretending I am writing with a biro when I am actually speed-typing onto a computer with a screen so flat you can’t see it when it turns sideways.
My other resolution is more challenging. I made an important discovery the other day, while watching The Good Life Christmas Special. (This, incidentally, will form the central example in my forthcoming paper, ‘The role of sitcoms in raising self-awareness: Richard Briers and the Forces of Evil’.) The episode was the one where Margot is bullied by Tom, in what I now see is an aggressive and misogynistic fashion, into lightening up, playing silly party games, and being generally as cerrr-azy as him and Barbara.
With a thud, I realised that, though I have aspired all these years to be like Barbara, except without dungarees – pert, practical, up for a laugh – in fact I completely identified with Margot. I suppose years of domesticity have taken their toll. I can at last appreciate why she was annoyed when Jerry put rubbish in the bin just after she’d emptied it. I have become resentful of eco-warriors and their assumption that they’re the only ones with any answers. I increasingly value the ritual of the pre-breakfast gin and tonic.
And I have started, at last, to be honest with myself. Instead of forcing on a paper hat and pretending to get the joke, I now accept that my true nature is to be the grump in the corner saying, ‘I don’t understand. Why is it funny?’
My final resolution, therefore, is to embrace my inner Margot. I’ve already made a start. When the Rotary finally wrestled the tree off me, they asked for a donation. I put on my most Tory voice and trilled, ‘Two pounds? After you’ve dropped pine needles all over the parquet? I think not’, and firmly shut the door. It felt great.
Beth Miller, 6th January 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com