The very notion of pin-pointing and terminating a lifelong habit, like the inevitable moment when a Bond villain rotates his arm like a lighthouse beacon onto his sidekick and shoots them dead, strikes me as unnatural. You may well have a strong motive, an incentive, or a reward prospect, what many of us don’t have is the ability to self-examine ourselves with a critical eye and say ‘THIS is where I’m going wrong’. As Emily Dickinson once penned - “The truth must dazzle gradually – or every man be blind”
In January 2007 I decided as a New Year’s Resolution I would join a gym. And I did. The problem was, at around about the same time, I also embarked upon a year-long hair project that would transform me from being the typical curly short-haired Anglo-Italian brunette that I was to becoming the male embodiment of Barbie. The gym and boy Barbie didn’t work without headbands, purple knee-highs and hot pants, which was fine for the twelve weeks in which American Apparel was acceptable, but impossible thereafter. It wasn’t until years later when Gay Times gave me an editorial carte blanche with my Gay Times Roadtrip (and it dawned on me that I’d be sampling some of Europe’s most hotly vyed-for sex clubs) that a personal trainer was on the cards. £350 for ten sessions, and it was the best money I ever spent. Although I have now pepperonied my way back into physical normality, indeed, Pizza Express and Strada all but sponsor my twenties.
So in January 2008 I loftily set myself the task of supporting a football team as a New Year’s Resolution. I’d identified a major gap in my knowledge – sport. My whole life I’d been aware of this gap but never saw a problem with it, there were always Björk albums I hadn’t yet listened to or Thomas Hardy novels I’d not read, why on earth would I want to learn about one of Victoria Beckham’s husband’s secondary jobs? Zero interest.
Critically, my Dad never introduced me to football (or any sport) in my early childhood, and then at public school football was swept under the carpet too (unlike rugby – at which they won the Daily Mail cup consecutively and spawned world-celebrated players like Lewis Moody, football was little more than a pink plastic sphere being spanked around a sports hall whilst some ‘duty tutor’ turned their nose up and thought about Monet). At university, away from the boarding school bubble where conversations wrapped themselves tightly around hyper-parochial occurrences, I realised that men didn’t always talk about burnt toast and killing animals, but talked about football. A lot.
Even Russell Brand is a massive football supporter. To hold a conversation about football was evidently of paramount importance for anyone who carried a cock between their legs in forging a career. This particular New Year’s Resolution was a MASSIVE failure, largely due to the fact that Sugababes had two transfer windows that year. Luckily football knowledge is now easily forgeable though thanks to the iPhone’s ‘FL Football’ App. It tells me everything I need to know about Millwall, from players lists to match results, and for an extra 79p live streaming from the showers. Yes, I decided to support Millwall. Like totally Millwall babe. And if you're a Millwall supporter - I probably know more about Millwall than you - deal with it. It's okay, I'm happy for you to be an inferior supporter.
Last year I set myself the task of not bitching about people based on a first impression. A badly timed resolution some might say, because it coincided with my first week working in Vogue House on the website for one of the world’s biggest A-List womens magazines GLAMOUR. Luckily everyone there was professional, very down-to-earth and lovely, but the challenge came during outside events. There is no better way to instantly bond with a fellow journo than to bitch heartlessly about a farcically incompetent PR person, especially after they’ve simultaneously spelt your name badge wrong, spilt Champagne down the back of your pants, given you a goodie bag full of Tampax and stabbed you in the thigh with a BIC. I learnt that all of the most intelligent people form rapid first impressions, and it doesn’t count as being pre-judgemental, as long you make every effort to constantly refresh those impressions, like a self-saving Google document.
So last night I asked my friend what I should give up for 2011. Straight-away, while the question was still forming itself between my lips, he burst out with - “Sleeping with T**ts!”
“What do you mean?” I ask, genuinely puzzled.
“All the T**ts you’re obsessed with Jack. You know so many nice people who you could hang out with, yet you’re constantly obsessing over absolute knob heads, just because they have pretty hair or a nice tummy, when all of your friends think that they’re a dick”.
“But I don’t even introduce most of them to my friends”
“Well how do you know that they’re t**ts”
“Because your Facebook wall is full of people who I know are lovely, like me, wanting to catch-up with you over coffee, saying they never see you, and inbetween each ignored wall post is a notification saying you’re friends with a new boy. I click on their names and there are NEVER any mutual friends.”
Holy shit, I thought to myself.
“Oh, and because I read your texts sometimes when you go to the toilet” he adds.
“And we did get introduced to –
- OK!! JEEZ!”
I got my phone out and sure enough, neglected missed calls from people I once picnicked with in Leeds, scattered amongst barbed-wire bootie calls and embarrassing feigned attempts to hang out with people who don’t even have the decency to text back within the hour.
“But I’m like Alexandra Burke” I proclaimed in my defence.
“What – you’re a glass collector?”
“No, the bad boys, they’re always on my mind” I say, wondering why I’m quoting a completely rubbish pop act. Were there not at least fifteen Erasure quotes that would have been better?
“Well forget them Jackie. Try and focus on your friends this year, get an early night once in a while, finish your novel. The bad boys will still be there in ten years time, cocking up their lives, like, what else are they going to do?”
He’s wrong on several levels. I’ve barely started my novel, I never have early nights – even if I’m not doing anything, and in ten years time the bad boys will have lost their pretty hair.
Still, he’s also very right. This year – NO SLEEPING WITH T**TS!
..... Or maybe in just a couple of days...Here's the marvellous Andy Bell in Erasure, singing the fabulously apt song Victim of Love: