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On the Down Side of New Year Resolutions - or Where do All Those Christmas Cookbooks Go?

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Statistics point to the second week in February as the date most people start to slide with their New Year's Resolutions, sometimes the third week - if the thing to be given up is a not to difficult one, like eating expensive, luxury chocolates, or juggling fiery sticks, or dressing-up in The Rocky Horror Show clobber to travel on the tube everyday (might be more difficult for some than we first might think) - anyway, all things said, as a species we are practically useless at defining goals for ourselves and bearing it out long enough to see them come to fruition.

Of course dieting is the number one new year resolution for any inhabitant of a first world country. Our access to and the abundance of food - a lot of it 'food' in name only, nothing more that homogenised fats , chemicals, and some kind of binding agent that ensures the product come out in some shape akin to the food it's supposed to emulate - - between you and me, I think the downfall started when we began calling food a 'product' (Human Resources is another one - what the hell was wrong with Personnel Department - but that's for another blog) ... anyway this means we stuff it down like all the chips in the world will suddenly vanish by midnight, especially at Christmas, whereby we find ourselves at year's end, miraculously and as soon as the sparkles settle from the New Years Eve fireworks, coming over all remorseful, suddenly starting to believe the scales in the bathroom when they're telling us that we are indeed a tad heavy for, as Ricky Gervais says, is essentially a land mammal.

So it begins, that television advert for diet plans gets a little more attention than the standard cursory flick to another channel, our eyes linger longer at bus stop posters telling us how easy it is to lose weight - sure just look at Janet from Basingstoke, or Robert from Wakefield in the picture, with their wee head and skinny bones poking up from inside their big-assed trousers (non-intentional pun by the way), all smug with their brand new skimpy waists and permanent grins, even the before photo in the top corner feels sorry for itself, all grainy, dark, and blurry, not at all a happy camper when faced with all those happy slim photos.

So determination has it, and the effort begins, rice instead of bread, boiled spuds for chips, chicken replaces the red meats, must cut out nuts , high in fat you know - must be true, read it in the Sun - and olive oil (big mistake on both fronts) - anyhoo, the resolve is there, the plan is made, and then as soon as the first Friday mid-Feb comes around, that 'sure I've been doing great - lads down the pub say so - one won't hurt' kebab works its greasy way down your gullet and there we have it, roll on next New Years Eve.

But through all this ill-thought-out, badly planned effort, there is a silent casualty, a lonesome figure - or figures, if Christmas present ideas were few that particular year - forlorn and as forgotten as the week-one diet plan, and that's the Christmas recipe book, that heartfelt gift from a darling son, or a thoughtful niece, written in dear kindness by your favourite celebrity chef (well usually it isn't, but the family are always telling you they are), who - with no thoughts of self gain, only the desire to make sure the whole country can prepare paprika chicken in asparagus sauce in less than two seconds - rolls out this year's tome, propped upon a bookshop shelf, in the surprisingly named 'Christmas Cookbooks' section, from whence they are purchased by the tens of thousands, lovingly wrapped, opened with thankful eyes, then cast aside as soon as the guilt of too many turkey and stuffing sandwiches sets in. You might say, come the liberation of mind and body on the second week of February, that the book sees restitution, quickly to become as beloved a family member as Toby the cat with the bendy tail, but sadly this is not true, because the bitter weeks of exile at the back of the cupboard where you keep the four for the price of three bottles of soy sauce (there was a Chinese one in it, I was going to give a try) has seen the book forgotten, lost to the ghosts of Christmas past. Sure it gets a mention, next year, when the follow on title of 'Cook Yourself Great British Home-cooked Farmhouse Bake-off Caribbean Curry for All the Family in Four Minutes' lands in your lap, and the question comes: 'Did you make much from last year's book' - then a flicker of a thought ripples through your brain, memories of dinnertime on the 27th December the year before, and rummaging through your unopened thermal socks and underwear, finding the book, if only to see how 'he' or 'she' do their mashed potatoes, or maybe they have something you can do with leftover Brussels sprouts. But that was it, the Christmas Cookbook was then abandoned, faced down behind the cereal boxes and cling-film, at best a heavy bookend to stop all the other books you really read from falling over - Ach sure, never mind ... there's always Ebay, or someone else's birthday ...

Happy New Year - or 'Athbhliain Faoi mhaise dhuit', as we say in Ireland - may it bring you all great success and happiness.

Slán go fóill - as we also say in Ireland 

My movie of the month:

The Hobbit - along with The Lord of the Rings (all three of them). What can I say really: screenplay, setting, character portrayal, the sheer size of them, everything about these movies say class - and all done to claw you in and make you want to never leave. They're just fanatastic stuff.

My album of the month:

The Secret Life of ... - Paddy Casey. Paddy's latest album, songs packed with his usual wrting style that is just unique, haunting, and terrific - what a voice. Check him out.

My book of the month:

The Hobbit - Tolkien. I saw the film which, in turn, prompted me to pick-up the book again - and that has been just brilliant. If you've never read it, do so - if you have, even many times, do so again ... you'll love it all the more.

My artist of the moment:

Paul Hickey; London. Once in while someone comes along who has vision, nerve, and the raw rebellious energy to take some materials and turn them into stories. As a writer, I like my art to speak to me, to tell me something, and to just plain please the eye. Paul Hickey's work does all that - so much so, I had to track him down and buy one. You can see what he does so brilliantly at:
http://paul-hickey.com

Martin Treanor
Author: The Silver Mist

More information about the Martin and his novels can be found on his website: www.MartinTreanor.com.

The Silver Mist is available - in paperback and Kindle/eBook format - via both UK and US Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, iTunes, Bookiejar, Waterstone's, John Smith's Bookshops, WH Smith's, and all good high street and online stores.