It’s a wonderful life*

I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. And in a way, it’s a kind of triumph, because it’s June. It’s June, and my New Year’s Resolution for this year is still relevant.

New Year’s Resolutions are basically an opportunity to live out your very own version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

In that Christmas movie, James Stewart’s character is suicidal about the way his life is going, so an angel called Clarence shows him what life would have been like if he simply hadn’t been born.

Everything it turns out, would have been terrible. All the positive influence he has had on people would never have existed, and all his friends and family would have had tragically unfulfilled lives — or would in one case have actually died. James Stewart realises life has been worth living after all, and becomes happy. Notoriously happy. Everyone invariably bursts into tears at the end of the movie because he’s so happy.

My theory is, when you adopt a New Year’s Resolution, you basically create a ‘new, improved’ you. A you that is specifically designed to have a positive influence in life. And so, a few months down the line, it’s possible to have your own Clarence moment and determine what life would have been like if the ‘new, improved’ you had never existed.

My resolution for 2012 was to make better use of my time. Much like everyone, there are a lot of things I want to do, or even need to do, but which I don’t really have to do. 2012 was the year where I was just going to do them.


  • Because I got up every working day (well, most days) and did two hours (well, nearly two hours) of writing, my book is finished (well, nearly finished).
  • Because I bought and installed a new handle and lock on the front door, I no longer have to insert the deadlock key and use it as a makeshift handle to shut the door.
  • Because I bought boxes, I’ve managed to make a start on sorting the loft out.
  • Because I phoned a builder, I now have a quote to replace two slates that had fallen from the roof.
  • Because I took the plunge and tiled the bathroom, I now have a lovely bathroom in which to ablute, and I can tile!

So, if you tally the number of jobs that I’ve managed to tackle since the new year, I think that counts as one of the more successful resolutions.

I am so happy you should be crying.

But wait, wait.

I’ve gone too far. I’ve discovered that, after the credits roll, and everyone in the cinema is filing out, and sniffing and pretending to each other that they’ve got something in their eye, those positive developments have not gone away.

Consider the bathroom tiling, one of my most significant achievements this year:

  • I now have a lovely new bathroom!
  • But… the tiles looked so new and white they made the bathroom sink look old and knackered.
  • So I had to buy a new sink.
  • And new taps.
  • And new bath taps.
  • And new bath plughole.
  • I had to learn how to fit a bath plughole.
  • I had to stand anxiously in the kitchen waiting for drips to come through the ceiling. They didn’t! Yet.
  • I had to purchase a tile scorer.
  • I had to learn how to score and cut tiles. I failed, repeatedly.
  • I had to purchase electric tile saw.
  • I had to find a plumber to come and remove the shower and fit new sink.
  • I had to get parking permits for plumber.
  • I had to buy a new shower.
  • I had to arrange for the plumber to come and fit new shower after tiling. This meant I needed to do the tiling to a standard that a tradesman wouldn’t laugh at.
  • I had to pay plumber’s parking fine after getting the wrong permit.

This list goes on, but I have cut it short for the sake of relative brevity. The whole thing is, at any rate, worthy of a tear-inducing movie plot that I will probably repeat endlessly after a few drinks at Christmastime.

My point here is this: each act of wonderfulness presents a whole series of new opportunities for enforced wonderfulness until your whole life becomes a great whirl of insane wonderfulness.

There is a more stark example from my list:

  • I now have a quote to replace two slates that had fallen from the roof!

But, in getting that quote the builder discovered and demonstrated that the gable end of my house is toppling over, and dragging the roof with it. If it falls during the night, it will crash through my neighbour’s roof, roughly around the location of his pillow.

Since when did a quick phonecall to a builder become a race to save my neighbour’s life?

Perhaps in another six months Clarence will be joyfully claiming that if I hadn’t made that New Year’s Resolution, I might have been carrying the burden of guilt of having killed my neighbour and destroyed his house.

Did I mention that the life-saving works are going to require retiling the bathroom?

I’m feeling a bit teary now.


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