Last Wednesday, our son away, my husband and I told our 9-year-old daughter she was in charge of the evening's events. She chose a 5.50pm screening of Paddington 2 and dinner at a restaurant specialising in chicken. I hate kids' movies and none of us eat meat. You'll love everything, she said. And I did. I really did. I loved that fat, greedy little joyous, stylish bear, and I loved the exceptional roast potatoes served with our chicken-less chicken dinner. It was a marvellous night, capped off by an oddly disturbing scene on the big screen. Caught between life and death, Paddington saves himself with a pair of toffee apples. The vignette would have charmed as much as the rest of the film, except that when Paddington opens the toffee apples, he does not pocket the sticky plastic wrappers but discards them. It was shockingly shocking — surely these days only the entirely conscienceless litter — however, overriding my dismay was a kind of elation. A eureka moment, if you like. There, I knew in a rare rush of creativity, was my intro.
The idea, you see, was to make this column about resolution. About resolutions and solutions. And my two key intentions for 2018 are to end my continued reliance on supermarket plastic bags (I use them for dog poo and as liners because when we renovated our kitchen a few years ago I got these Flash Harry bins that I can't bring myself to soil) and to pick up at least one piece of rubbish a day. So Paddington would have provided a lovely way in to a discussion about all that stuff. But I was reading The Times online, as I am wont to do, Monday last, and there was this column by the British political journalist Alice Thomson, on how this is the year we all need to say no to plastic. The nation's favourite bear, she starts her think piece, is a litterbug. I cursed. Dammit. Oh well, I consoled myself, it's all grist to my mill. I'll just weave Alice Thomson in. That bitch stole my line, I could begin. Ha!
Then, no, no, no, I realised. You cannot kick off a column about worthy intent in such an unpleasant fashion; not when it's hardly her fault you both had the same cute idea, only she beat you to it, and most especially not when your third resolution for 2018 is to be kind at any cost, to always choose the kind word over the nasty.
What to do? Just write about your other resolutions, said my husband. Umm… what other ones, I asked. I already told you, honey, this is my year of fewer resolutions and more resolve. I've moved on from thinking that if I could just floss daily, not say sorry all the time, and compost better, then everything would be perfect. I'm happy just muddling along. Yes, yes, he said, but you really ought to try not yelling so much at the kids and me, all that stomping around the house isn't helpful, also it would be good if you could decide that you weren't going to prang my car ever again, and how about you try really hard not to say "umm" so much. Umm, I said, how about you make some of your own, you sanctimonious ass-wipe! Ahh, one more thing, he called out as I stormed off, could you only pick up rubbish when you're on your own? It's kinda annoying.
Several readers emailed with success stories of intermittent fasting after I wrote about the ways in which I manage my weight. Jo: "At 43 and hormones raging, weight bulging and moody AF, I decided to research what I ate. Lean gains, 2mealaday, 16:8, whatever you call it, works. My moods, periods, weight, cortisol level and overall energy levels have drastically improved." Viviane: "What I love about this way of eating is I'm losing weight, while eating yummy food, and not feeling deprived at all. I enjoy feeling hungry before I eat (and if hunger gets to be a problem I can always just break my fast earlier that day)… Dieting never worked for me, I couldn't actually stick to it for more than a few days… However, I've now lost five kilos, slowly – I'm losing around 1.5kg per month. I feel great, as this is one area of my life I could never get under control, and now I feel I can."