For Christmas, my parents gave my boyfriend a book entitled "Crap towns returns", which I'm sure most people have heard of. They gave it to him because they found it hilarious that our own home town, Merthyr Tydfil, featured in it, as it has done many times before because, according to the masses, it's a crap place to live.
The New Year is upon us, and the blogosphere is awash with posts along the lines of 'Predictions for 2014' and 'What will be big in the next twelve months'. The irony is that we live in an increasingly unpredictable, turbulent world, in which accurate forecasting is an increasingly hard act to master.
After Ed Miliband's price freeze plan took the party conference season by storm, energy was rarely out of the headlines in the final months of 2013. The most recent twist came last week, with uSwitch showing that bill payers are £53 a year worse off today than in January 2013, despite high profile action from government aimed at countering price rises.
I have great things planned for 2014. Oh, yes. At least two of them. At least two things I want to achieve; at least two things I am resolving - no, resolved - to do. So naturally when I was thinking about this post, I was all set to explain what those things are. Until the book that's been advising me how to do these things told me not to...
Many of us will be familiar with those feelings of shame as we realise (only half way through January) that those good intentions have been abandoned, forgotten or are unravelling before our very peepers. And should we be surprised? January is quite possibly the worst month to be setting oneself ambitious goals for the year ahead.
Its your first day back at work after the Christmas holidays. Its cold, dark, and the lights of Christmas have been extinguished, it's a really long time to your next holiday, and you over-indulged during the holiday season to the point where your work trousers feel considerably tighter than they did a month ago.
Many people in the UK decide to detox after the Christmas period. Stilton, port and vast amounts of mince pies are all very well, but come at a cost. It's a price some aren't always happy to pay, so they then spend January and beyond moaning about weight gain and their plans to get fit for the summer.
It will turn out that those guys who think the world is secretly run by lizards were right all along. But a further twist will develop in June, when it is revealed that those lizards are themselves ruled by empirical socio-economic forces which can be countered by engaging in the electoral process and bringing about piecemeal change.