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You Say You Want a Resolution On:2004-01-16 11:24:00

Of course this very weekend, as you'd expect, I'm all set to prepare my New Year's Resolutions. I have two in mind, and, again as you'd expect of me, the first one is my usual promise never ever to make any of those stupid New Year's Resolution things.

In this I'm influenced, as you'd expect, by the fact that we just got back from a visit to England where (as you might not expect) they do things a bit differently.

You see New Year's Resolutions are not quite the de rigeuer activity that they are here. Oh no instead we have the New Year's Honours List as a sort of nation-wide equivalent, the main difference from the resolutions made here being that (with one or two notable exceptions) everyone who gets one keeps theirs and (most welcome to absolutely everyone) it removes all that awful personal responsibility from an otherwise onerous and demeaning task. And since all the more disgusting parts of the procedure are performed by the Queen--and she so obviously deserves it, it all works out rather nicely. And the Honours really are just like resolutions, they have very little to do with rewarding what has been already achieved (whatever people may say) but much, much more to do with what it is felt we should try to achieve in the future. Just like a resolution! This becomes blazingly clear when you look at our National Rugby Team, you know the team that just won the World Cup a couple of months ago: to a man they were honoured from the head coach (with a knighthood) down to the lowliest bench-paperweight of a substitute. In this they were quite unlike the 1966 Footballers who had to wait until 2000, about 34 years after winning their World cup. And it is surely not a coincidence that these, the only two things we have ever won were honoured so close together. Could we be resolving to do better at sports any more obviously?

And then again, when you look at the knighthood given to Tim Berners-Lee (he's the Englishman who created the world wide web) you see the whole of England resolving to really buck up and finally learn Perl scripting this year. But when you see Eric Clapton, he who has featured in so many Graffiti since the sixties as "Clapton is God", getting a mere CBE when His Sometime Satanic Majesty Mick Jagger gets to be knighted after being benighted for so long you finally start to wonder exactly what Prime Minister Blair (who actually does these things---the Queen in reality just functioning as a sort of robot or wind-up doll) actually wants the whole country to turn into. From what we have just seen it turns out to be a good thing that the New Year's Honours are in reality merely New Year's resolutions because otherwise the whole thing is an extremely odd exercise. Note that a lot of the decorations are things like MBEs, OBEs or even CBEs which are variously alphabetisms for 'Member of the British Empire', 'Officer of the British Empire' or even 'Commander of the British Empire', just as if the last 50-odd years had not occurred and we still had one---I mean how can anyone who hasn't got access to a time machine be made a member of the Empire nowadays? I suppose eventually they will do to it what the historians did to our dates (you do know how the PC buggers swear blind that our dating system has nothing to do with Anno Domini dating, that it's the "Common Era" and everything else is just a coincidence): then they will be Members, Officers, Commanders etc of the Boring Establishment (and no I'm not in the least bitter that I didn't get an honour for services to British Broadcasting by doing all mine over here), and anyway I'm sure you wouldn't think it so strange to you were you to look at our coins which have (among other things) the words "fid def" or rather, in these worn-down times just the letters "F D" which in less worn-down times stood for "fidei defensor" a title given to Henry VIII by Pope Leo X just before Henry dumped the church---of course he kept the title and I hope you see the pattern here.
Apart from the honours list he other really amusing highlight of our visit was when we went to see a panto, and I'm sure you know what a pantomime is--loud, funny, traditionally English kiddy entertainment based on fairy stories and with plenty of cross dressing. Well ours was Sleeping Beauty, or rather (since it was a small town semi-amateur production) ours was actually Sleeping Reasonably Attractive If You Keep the Lighting Low.

Oh and by the way my other resolution is that THIS year (for the first time) I WILL make my resolutions on time

Cheerio for now
From Richard Howland-Bolton

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