The new year is knocking. It’s time to pretend that next year we will be different. All we need do is draw a line under the last year and promise to change. We will rise up from the couch and batch-cook vegetables for the month, pushing aside the crisp packets we have turned inside out to lick the salt from.
We will be disciplined. We tell ourselves the only reason last year didn’t go the way we wanted was because we just didn’t try hard enough. Not because a big f**k-off pandemic was going on. So this year I am taking the pressure off. This mess isn’t up to the individual to whip into shape. No one really cares how many runs you posted on Instagram or how many books you pretend to have read. Instead it’s up to all of us to collectively try to make next year better.
These are my highly arbitrary societal New Year’s resolutions.
1. Don’t tell others about doing Dry January. Good for you, but we don’t care. This is particularly for the folk who think abstaining from drink for 31 days is a personality trait. But if you are worried you might be in an active addiction, please tell people. They’d love to help and support you. If you’re just staying away from Friday-night cocktails because you want something to feel smug about that’s okay, but I’ll see you in February.
2. Complaining about how the Government is run when you didn’t vote is banned and subject to punishment. The voter turnout for the last election was 62.9 per cent. So what were the remainder doing? Eating leftover Celebration boxes at home in your tracksuit bottoms in front of the telly? Yes, I know the way we measure voter turnout from the register means the rate could be underestimated, but it’s a lot lower than the 91.9 per cent who turned out in Australia. Voting is compulsory there, with fines for failing to turn up to mark the ballot paper. In fairness it’s also a lot easier: you can vote by post, early, outside your electorate and from overseas. But these are things Ireland can adopt. When everyone has to vote, parties have to at least seem to care about the welfare of people across all sectors of society and introduce policies that will not obviously leave a targeted group behind. Australians don’t do this because they love democracy, it’s because they like to whinge about politics – and voting in elections gives them a divine right to say “This lot are useless” with gusto. If you get caught complaining about the Government when you didn’t bother voting, you are immediately made to wear a scratchy wool jumper for six months.
3. Stop asking people have they packed yet for a trip. Why are you asking this? How is knowing this important to you? Why do you need to know at all? You don’t. It just makes the other person feel bad that they haven’t packed yet. They’re stressed enough getting ready to go abroad during Covid. Don’t ask me if I’ve packed yet. You know I haven’t. I won’t until five minutes before the taxi arrives, as is tradition.
4. Stop asking young people to pick their careers at 16 when planning the points they need to get into university. In fact stop asking people what Leaving Cert points they got. I got a high number and got into the course I wanted. It ruined my life. I messed about and got a double degree in arts and journalism that I’m still paying off. All while working in an industry that doesn’t pay very well, has insecure work and few jobs, and lets the public tell you that you’re sh*te under the comments section. I would never show up to an accountant’s office and write “You’re sh*te” under his Excel spreadsheets. I should have gone down the mines with my friends. They have lovely houses.
5. We’re all going out to support the nightclub/late-night-pub industry when it’s safe to reopen. They’ve had a rough old year of it, and we’re losing dancing spaces left, right and centre. It’s hard to get them back once they go – just ask Sydney. But in some instances we’re going to keep the earlier opening times. If you hate nightclubs because you hate staying out late, then a 6pm start is for you. The motto is go hard (early) and go home (early). I want a nightclub set up like someone’s kitchen and living room with carpets and couches. The dress code is pyjamas, onesies and tracksuits. Why bother waiting until 4am to have an afters with random people in your gaff when you can go out and make it to the main event at 8pm? Skip the filler, go straight to the killer. Everyone gets a go picking a song on an iPhone plugged into the speakers via an aux cord. The song is either booed or cheered. Whoever picks the best song (determined by cheer volume) wins a lucky door prize.
6. And the easiest one of all – fix the health system. Pay nurses and doctors more. Improve their work conditions. Increase the number of ICU beds.