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“So here it is! 2017: a user’s manual”: Lucy Mangan guides us into the New Year


This January I feel a bit more limbo-ish than fresh-new-startish. There’s the outgoing/incoming presidential situation across the pond. There’s the blasted wasteland of the Labour party and a government that doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence over here. And the Queen’s still holed up somewhere mainlining Lemsip, which I’m sure some scrap of vellum somewhere says makes us constitutionally unviable.

So it looks like it’s up to me to step into the void, be your rudder, steady hand on the tiller, guiding light and, ultimately, governor by diktat. Am I qualified? No. But at least I’m not an orange toddler likely to declare war on China in a tweet before the year is out. So, here are my rules for 2017:

First – and now that I am a national leader, I am going to be using some very technical language, so just try and stay with me – people have got to stop getting things arse-about-face. For example, the recent call for people to stop having cake to celebrate birthdays in the office. Because of the obesity crisis. You see, the problem is that you hear something as stupid as that – with the implication that it is a slice of cheap sponge once a year that is the problem, rather than all the stuff we poke down our gullets morning, noon and night – that makes people throw up their hands in frustration and despair and ignore the underlying salient message. Which is that the obesity crisis is real and we need to find sustainable ways of managing it, and the more sensible iterations of which also then become tainted by association. See also “sitting is as bad as smoking”.

Secondly, I outlaw wilful literalism. Examples include the people who lambasted those who “blamed” 2016 for killing so many talented people. You know – those who replied to tweets saying “2016 can f*** off” with something like, “You really think the end of an arbitrary period of time is going to bring an end to death?! #uhmoron”, all the while knowing that the first tweeter no more thought that than they did. Ditto all those whose first response to a campaign like Black Lives Matter is “All lives matter!” or to any mention of rape or sexual assault by a man is “Not all men!” You know that is not what’s being said, implied, intended or anything else. Stop pretending otherwise and trying to weaken these forces for good.

While we’re at it, campaigners and activists can think about the advantage of a proportionate response to transgressions. Energy and goodwill are finite resources, people. If they are squandered on things like getting Steve Martin to take down an only-arguably-and-then-only-marginally offensive tweet about his friend Carrie Fisher, there is less available for more pressing matters.

Finally, remember to focus on the positive at least once a day. Whatever floats your boat is fine. I’m happiest that another 10 episodes of Will & Grace have been commissioned, but you might thrill to the news that driverless cars are coming and with them the promise that traffic could be reduced by 80%. Or glory in the knowledge that advances in the immunological treatment of cancer promise great things, because amidst all the sh*t, good people keep working and trying and making things better for humanity.  

Take heed. Obey me. And untold happiness will be yours (refunds not available).



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