Christmas came and went in a slow-burning, all-consuming pursuit of turkey, chocolate, red wine and mince pies. I emerged on the other side depressed, half a stone heavier, no holidays left and nothing to look forward to. Then, and only then, does the annual appeal in making resolutions appear, like it has been waiting, silent, for me all year. Something to fill time, fill the mind and fill paper. Some resolutions to definitely break and some to carry forward next year, the year after, on and on…one routine I am expert at. Every year I tell myself I need to refine my ‘skills’, find my niche. But while I have a job I never feel I have a ‘niche’ and I encounter the same stagnant feeling year after year, no closer to knowing what my ‘niche’ is.  So, time to make plans and resolutions – hardest ones first.

Resolution 1 – read more (less Grazia, more Great Gatsby)

With January resolutions inevitably comes the obligatory New Year self-help book. While time-wasting in Waterstones I couldn’t fail to notice to number of self-help books. One book that really stood out was You Need this Book to Get What You Want I have never been into sort-your-life-out-by-following-these-simple-steps-books. One the one hand it seems artificial to try to memorise social techniques to supposedly enable a person to better fit in with their surroundings, to become popular, successful, happy. A book cannot teach someone to have a winning personality and the self-help genre can come across as a patronising slap in the face – to some, self help=social loser/hypochondriac/low self-esteem. On the other hand, having an easy accessible reference can offer helpful tips- an education or form of social and commercial grooming but I remain sceptical as how these tips are executed  from the page to the street.

So I undersand it may come across as hypocritical to follow my last statement by sharing what I did end up reading: The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford. It is an interesting read for those with health interests contextualised by science. The book is more of a reference tool that characterises the effects of diet on the body and details how we can all create our own diet based on our current health, personality, blood group and so on. No fads, no sensationalism, just factual information which lends the book a more credible air. A book I would not be so ashamed to be caught reading, a form of self-help from the inside out. A secret. But this does not fall into my ‘quality read’ so I will be opting for one of these to start and will return to update on my progress in the coming months.

Voices from S21 by David Chantler/Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin/Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh/The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler/The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir/Howards End by EM Forster/The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (and a little Grazia to stop myself becoming too high-brow).

Resolution 2: Broaden my musical interests

I listened to Jarvis Cocker’s new BBC6 radio show last Sunday and it is brilliant. Cocker implements echo machine, dulcet voice, and incorporates his varied and interesting musical influences- a mega-mix of Stephen Fry, distraught tales of dumped Christmas trees and Elvis Presley celebrations. His voice is perfect for Sunday afternoon- smooth and melancholy, funny and interesting. Although he does sound like he wears dentures, there is a semi-constant clicking of his jaw, but it just adds to the sound effects.

Whenever I listen to the radio- normally BBC4 weekdays as I’m getting ready for work, Jonathon Ross on Saturday morning; to a large extent it serves as background noise. I can never quite remember the jokes, the guests or the songs. Cocker is the sort of person you want to listen to, and the show does demand attention, but it’s worth it.

Currently listening to: Charlotte Gainsbourg/ Wild Beasts/ Ra Ra Riot.

Resolution 3:  Attend more exhibitions

I hate to miss interesting exhibitions and as they generally show in London I don’t always hear about one until it’s too late. A perfect example is the Seizure is Rhapsodyexhibition at Elephant and Castle (until 2nd January). Created within an old council estate, there is a real sense that something transcendental is happening. 90,000 litres of copper sulphate infused the flat with blue crystals from the outside in; as if the flat itself was shedding its rough exterior, revealing a sparkling beauty underneath. The artist, Hiorns, really gives a new lease of life to something old and forgotten in that abandoned council estate. The piece-commissioned by Artangel- specialise in transforming disused urban housing into pieces of art.

Something a little closer to home-Alan Fletcher – 50 Years of Graphic Work and Play is previewing tonight (Thurs 21st Jan) at CUBE Gallery, Manchester.  The Observer has described Fletcher as ‘Britain’s best ever graphic designer’ and I am congratulating myself in advance for one at least one resolution I am not going to break.

Series:

|

You Need This Book to Get What You Want by Mark Palmer and Scott Solder