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Lucy Mangan: "2013 has been a riotous success"


"The last Stylist-slash-column of the year! I must pause to wipe a tear from my eye and push another Hotel Chocolat Dizzy Praline into my face and turn to reflect on what kind of year it has been before contemplating what 2014 might hold.

Personally, 2013 has been a riotous success. I’ve managed to keep myself, a husband and a child alive and free of major injury for another 12 months. I found my dressing gown cord. I read something on the Booker list for the first time in my life (Harvest, Jim Crace. it’s brilliant). I’ve discovered long kirby grips (five centimetres! life changing! I just bought myself an extra three weeks between haircuts), accepted that no macaron is ever worth its price tag and, with a little help from assorted Philippa Gregorys, Jean Plaidys and Hilary Mantels have finally memorised all of Henry VIII’s wives. It’s taken me the better part of three decades but – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Ta-dahhh! Now all I have to do is be able to remember whether Jane Eyre wrote Charlotte Brontë or the other way round and I should be fit for presentation at any civilised gathering.

So yes, a good year. Low expectations my friends, that’s the key to happiness. The very lowest expectations.

From a wider perspective, things are admittedly less rosy. The Colbert Report still isn’t broadcast over here and the new series of Banshee still hasn’t started (never heard of it? it is the tale of a handsome jewel thief who is released from prison and ends up masquerading as a small town sheriff where his partner in crime is now married to a nice but less handsome man and masquerading as a domestic goddess. They are still in luuurrrve! No, hate! No, luuurrrve! it’s excellent.)

As if that were not enough, Boots now sells a magnet for us laydeez to put into our knickers to ease period pain – which, if they have been bought by anyone other than the secret female offspring of wolverine who may have reproductive organs partly composed of adamantium (which, as those with even the most passing acquaintance with marvel lore or films with Hugh Jackman in will know, is nothing if not responsive to magnetic fields) and therefore some legitimate belief in their efficacy, will make me weep hot tears of anger and despair for womanity.

Low expectations my friends, that’s the key to happiness

I don’t know whether I should resolve to be more patient and tolerant in 2014 or go with my instinct and throw myself fully into the fight against gullibility/ stupidity. Gullipidity. Actually, I might just throw myself into the fight to make ’gullipidity’ happen. Also, ‘shelfie’ – a photo tweeted of one’s bookshelves – because if that takes off, well, for the first time I shall feel that I finally have something to offer the world.

In the main, I think it’s been a good year– especially if you ignore everything the government thought, said and did – rounded off nicely by Tom Daley publicly announcing that he was in love and that it was with a man. And that he was happy, and his friends and family were happy and that he hoped his fans would be too. It was beautiful. That he felt he could and should, that he did it with such beauty, grace and confidence – everything about it gave you hope that although it may sometimes seem unlikely, and while it is still of course not enough, we are in some small way, making progress. And it was, amidst the yammer and clattering, banter and tweeting, all the meaningless background chatter that makes up much of our daily lives, a small, sweet hymn to the transformative power of love. Yes, really.

On that optimistic note, let us look forward to 2014. My resolutions include; using local business-boosting hive.co.uk instead of minimal tax-paying, questionable work-practices-practising Amazon wherever possible, not eating chicken-bacon-and-avocado sandwiches more than three times a week, de-cluttering the house, stopping eating caramel batons and starting running and – oh GOD, it’s NEVER going to work, is it? Never mind. Have a brilliant Christmas and a happy new year. I’m continuing last year’s tradition and donating my fee for this column to savethechildren.org.uk. Do join me if you have a few quid to spare. See you in the new year and in the meantime great tidings of comfort and joy to you all.”



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