Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 31 January 2014

Best Foot Forward

Funny, isn’t it, how we all want to put our best foot forward, put on a front, show our nicest side on the outside?

Funny, isn’t it, how we all want to be liked, loved even, by just about anyone and everyone?

Funny, isn’t it, how some people even manage it?

I guess that’s the best reason for why I was absent from the blog for so long.

I think it was Thumper from Bambi who first taught me the lesson, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothin' at all.” It’s a lesson that I have been trying to learn for several decades, and one that I doubt I shall ever quite master.

There are times, though, when I do stop talking.

The husband tells me that I am the most honest person that he has ever met. I doubt him. I always assume that pretty well everyone is as honest as I am. 

It isn’t true, though, and it never was.

I was always the kid elected to stick her hand up to say something unpopular or unseemly or to make a complaint, and I was always unfazed by the thought of opening my mouth and always willing to do it. I do it still. I never think twice about letting someone know when the loo-roll has run out in a restaurant bathroom. I don’t make a fuss about those things; I just quietly tell someone. How hard is it?

Take this example: The husband and I were in a well known restaurant chain with a couple of young people for dinner. Halfway through my meal, I forked through the remains of my pasta and found a daddy long legs. Now, the thing had been cooked to buggery so it wasn’t going to do me any harm, it certainly wasn’t going to fly out of my dinner and attack me, and besides I’d eaten half of my meal already, so I stuck the corpse on the edge of my plate and carried on.

I realise that some of you will be horrified by this, and, honestly, if I’d been almost anywhere else I probably would have complained there and then, but we’d had a good day, I’d already drunk a couple of glasses of wine and the conversation was lively, and I really couldn’t be bothered. When the bill arrived we were asked if everything was OK, and I simply said that, actually, there was a bug in my dinner, which I pointed to. The poor waitress recoiled and scuttled off, returning a few moments later with her manager. I don’t think I’ve ever been so comprehensively comped in my entire life. No fuss, just a heart felt apology and a vast amount of comping. 

This was one of those instances when telling the truth pays.

There have been plenty when it didn’t.

As a young woman I told the truth and it alienated people. I was full of opinions and I didn’t care who heard them, in what tone or under what circumstances. I was foolish and I was wrong. For the most part, I don’t do that any more. I still tell the truth, but I try very hard not to be inappropriate about it, and I try very, very hard not to be an utter bitch... ever!

Yes, I complain... I complain when the husband would find it too difficult or embarrassing to do so, but I do it with a smile on my face. I lean in and I begin with something like, “I hope you can help me.” I never raise my voice, and I always apologise for making the receiver of the complaint’s life difficult.

I have stopped calling a spade a shovel.

I don’t just tell someone who’s being a tosser that he’s a tosser. I tell him very sweetly that what he’s doing makes him look like a tosser, because, do you know what, that bloke is trying to put his best foot forward, too. That bloke is trying to show his nicest side on the outside, and just because he’s failing I shouldn’t be a bitch about it, I should help him out. That bloke probably isn’t actually a tosser, because most of us aren’t, not really.

It’s in my nature to say what I think and think what I say. I do it in my life, every day, and I do it here. I tried to change, but I’m a lousy liar, so I had to stop. When I couldn’t lie, I just tried to find better ways to tell the truth, and that seems to have worked out for me for the most part.

When I have a bad day, or week, or month... Well, you didn’t need to hear some of the truths I ended up blurting out while I was absent from the blog, but at least I had the good sense not to commit them to an eternity on the internet...

Go me! 

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Sex Lies and Presidents

So Monsieur Normal and his ersatz wife are no longer together.

Forgive me for being surprised by that.

Modern convention dictates that the wronged parties leave their errant partners when they stray in this way, when they commit what we used to call adultery, when they ‘go over the side’ as it were, but I can’t help wondering whether we’re all a little shortsighted in our knee jerk reactions to these things. I can’t help wondering whether Valerie TrierWeiler’s reaction to Francois Hollande’s infidelity wasn’t something of an overreaction.

I wrote recently about betrayal in this blog. Ok, so it wasn’t this kind of betrayal, but a betrayal is still a betrayal, a lie is still a lie. People betray each other, people lie; these things are universal; they happen to all of us, all the time.

I also wrote this blog about relationships and about the kinds of people we choose to have relationships with, or, more particularly, the kind of man that I might choose to have a relationship with.

If Valerie Trierweiler had wanted roses around the door and the picket fence surely she wouldn’t have chosen the most powerful man in France to be her life partner.

Francois Hollande may have been dubbed Monsieur Normal, but no one becomes the leader of his country without being a powerful presence. He must be, at the very least, a clever, persuasive man, and I’d bet that he’s also charming, hardworking, ambitious and ruthless too.

Men like that... people like that, don’t go home after a day at work, pop on their slippers, eat a light supper and settle down to a good book and a little gentle lovemaking should the mood take them. 

I have a preference for alpha types. I’ve never dated a man as powerful as Hollande, and nor have I ever dated a politician, but I’ve certainly dated talented, intelligent, charming men. I’ve dated men who can dominate any conversation among any group of people, who can persuade anyone of almost anything, who work hard and play hard and don’t know the limits of their appetites, and that’s how I like them.

Being a woman, and having found myself in the thrall of this brand of man on more than one occasion, it’s easy to write about them, but I know women who are like this too. I’m well enough acquainted with one young woman in particular to call her a friend. She’s at the top of her very demanding profession. She works hard and plays hard and manages a large staff of men and women. She is very much the alpha partner in her very happy relationship, and she loves her man deeply. She understands her appetites too though and, once in a while, very discreetly, she indulges them. That is her business and her partner’s, and nobody else’s. They understand each other and their relationship continues.

Powerful people have always sought outlets for their appetites. They have always sought balance in their lives, as do we all. It isn’t terribly difficult or troubling to balance a life when it consists of the nine-to-five in balance with the home and family. It might be a little more complex and a little more dangerous to find something to balance walking a political tightrope on the World stage.

I’m not excusing Francois Hollande’s behaviour. If I was Valerie Trierweiler I probably wouldn’t be hugely impressed with him either. I’m damned sure that I wouldn’t have an attack of the vapours, though. I’m damned sure I wouldn’t end up in a suite at the hospital with a case of the blues. Had I been Trierweiler, Hollande might have found the contents of a full glass of good red wine dripping down his face, or my palm landing against his cheek; there might have been a lot of fierce fighting and fiercer fucking; I might even have left him, who knows?

My contention is that Trierweiler knew what Hollande was and she had chosen to be in a  relationship with him in the first place.

Francois Hollande’s relationship with Trierweiler began while he was in a longterm relationship with Segolene Royal, so longterm, in fact, that they had four children together. Trierweiler knew that Hollande was a liar because he had lied to Royal to enter into a relationship with her, and she knew that he was an adulterer because he had committed adultery with her. It was foolish of her to think that the pattern couldn’t or wouldn’t be repeated.

The pain that Valerie Trierweiler felt when Hollande’s relationship with Julie Gayet was exposed clearly represented something greater to her than the pain of losing him, and I can’t help thinking that’s almost the saddest thing of all in the end.

Segolene Royal, Valerie Trierweiler and Julie Gayet
Three of Francois Hollande's lovers, including the mother of his children,
his First Lady and his latest mistress

Tuesday 21 January 2014

The Cult of Youth...

... Or not.

I’ve never been a fan of the cult of youth. I want experience and wisdom and charisma, and a whole lot of those three things plus more than the sum of those parts from everyone and anyone. I certainly want them from leaders and heads of state.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles
enjoying a giggle during the jubilee.
A job-share might just suit them.
It turns out that’s exactly what we have now, if the Sunday papers are anything to go by... Not a head of state, not QEII, but HeadS of State: plural. According to the Sundays, and the red-tops, who, it seems to me, caught up on Monday, the Queen is to be joined in some of her grander and more demanding state events by HRH the Prince of Wales. He is to shoulder part of the burden of the Crown from now on... This is to become something of a job-share.

Queen Elizabeth said some time ago that she didn’t plan to abdicate in favour of HRH Prince Charles, or anyone else for that matter, and I, for one, admire her sense of duty, but the poor woman is 87 years old, so should have retired at least twenty-two years ago, and, potentially as many as twenty-seven years ago. Prince Charles is 65 and could have retired at the end of 2013. Their average age is 76 for crying out loud!

I have no issues with anyone working beyond retirement age; I fully expect that the husband will expire at his desk when the time comes, whatever his age, and I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if I died, probably falling down the stairs (but that’s a story for another time) with an unfinished novel in the documents folder on my desktop, no doubt with some highly improbable working title. 

I do wonder about this job, though. I wonder whether we don’t have enough white, entitled types swanning around the globe representing our country, and if we were to have more of them, which seems entirely likely, wouldn’t it be nice to have some younger people, or more women, or perhaps someone new, or single or gay? Or... I’m sure you’re all able to fill in the gaps on this one, but they could at least be a little less terminally familiar.

OK, I know, they’re all familiar. Who in the World doesn’t have at least a passing acquaintance with the faces of all the members of the Royal Family, including the younger ones? And I’m with the consensus and the Palace on the subject of allowing (for example) Princes William to grow-up and have at least some semblance of a ‘normal life’, whatever that is... If only it could prepare him for what’s expected of him when his working life and the biggest title in the land kicks in, even if it isn’t until long after his working life might be expected to be over.

The Queen Mother was 101 years old when she died. If her daughter lives as long, and Prince Charles outlives her, he will ascend to the throne at the comely age of 79, which seems a little old to be taking on a new job, especially one which includes representing an entire nation globally. It’s probably just as well that his apprenticeship began some time ago, and the whole job-share idea might even have come along a little late in the day.

If King Charles III lives to 101 years old, King William V will be a young pup when he ascends to the throne at the age of 67. When his time comes, I suspect that this will fall within the standard age of retirement, and the balance might well be redressed. What will he do until then? I suppose he’ll do what his father has done, or something fairly similar. Perhaps more to the point, some might ask the question: What will WE do until then?

I’m not a royalist, except that the status quo seems as workable a system as anything else on offer, and the presidential system as (perhaps) exemplified by the USA seems unlikely to work here, where we tend to be disparaging of elected leaders rather than automatically loyal to them once they take office. I’ve also stated that I’m not a fan of the cult of youth, and there are arguments for allowing Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge to have a family and grow into the roles that they will no doubt assume to a greater degree in the fullness of time.

I don’t know how good a fit an 87 year old white woman and a 65 year old white man are in the World, though. I don’t know how far they actually stand for the country they represent in its current form. I’m white and middle class and a professional, and I’m pretty sure I don’t adequately represent the majority of the people with whom I share the place I call home, and my experience of my country and the World is far removed from the experiences of the people I’m talking about.

Perhaps, in the end, it’s all a dog and pony show. Perhaps it’s not real at all... Not real in the way that you and I perceive our every day realities. Perhaps it’s a trick of the light, a fantasy. Perhaps it’s for other people. Perhaps it’s a separate world entirely where, for the most part, dignitaries meet other dignitaries and the trickle-down effect is minimal to nothing.

For what it’s worth, I’m the sort of person, who, confronted with a famous face, sticks out her hand and offers a smile. I’ve met some fascinating people in my time and most of them were just like you and me. I’ve also met some hugely famous people who were equally hugely ordinary.

On the whole, I’m glad that any 87 year old woman is relieved of any of the more obvious stresses in her life. For most that means a little extra help around the house, a visit from a friend or family member, some additional income from savings or a private pension, and the means to live a comfortable enough life. If for this 87 year old woman it means company on a long, hard foreign trip, shorter working hours, fewer hands to shake and fewer smiles to bestow, causing less muscle strain in her old hands and her old face, that’s fine too. I wish her joy of it.

In the long run, I doubt that much will change. I don’t expect it, and I’m not sure I want it. The cult of youth has been a worrying trend for far too long and these old folks don’t appear, to me at least, to be doing too much damage. 

I hope I’m right.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Kiss and Make Up

I was let down... so what?

I was recently asked the question, “What would someone have to do to lose your friendship?”

Gosh! Don’t I just have some philosophical conversations?

The fact is that none of us is perfect. Heaven forbid we should be. The fact is that I can count the number of really thoroughly good, longstanding, properly enduring friendships that I have had on the fingers of my hands, thumbs not included.

We all have friends, but most of them pass through our lives attached to circumstances. They are the people we worked with who took new jobs, or neighbours that moved on, and when they are gone they are soon forgotten. (I’m talking, of course, about those of us who pre-date universal access to the internet, because let us not forget that the FaceBook generation never seems to lose touch with anyone: friends, acquaintances, lovers, colleagues, members of endlessly extended families, friends-of-friends... the list seems interminable).

I was let down, very badly, by a very longstanding friend, and, as a consequence I was asked this question.

In those first moments of wondering I had no answer. It had crossed my mind only briefly, only in the worst most cutting moment of the hurt caused, to drop my friend. I never seriously considered ending the friendship. I didn’t want to. The loss of my friend would have been greater than the pain caused by the wrongdoing.

My first answers were trite: Nobody’s perfect; turn the other cheek; it’s not as if I never let anyone down... 

The question played on my mind, though, because I knew what most people would say if I told them my story. They would tell me not to be a doormat; they would tell me not to be so stupid and to drop my friend; they would tell me that some things are unforgiveable.

They would be wrong.

After a week of wondering, it finally dawned on me why my friend meant more to me than the hurt the betrayal had caused, and I felt at ease with myself once more. A conversation with my friend, who was racked with guilt and couldn’t find enough ways to apologise or make amends cemented our relationship perhaps more firmly than it ever had been, despite a closeness that has spanned decades.

The point is this. We know each other and we know each other well. We share qualities, good and bad, and we both have qualities, good and bad that the other lacks. We also understand one another. My friend let me down, but acted entirely in character in the manner of the wrongdoing. The betrayal, if not entirely expected, came as no great surprise. 

This stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We reap what we sow. We have the lives we deserve and the friends we deserve, and when we don’t make the most of them and of ourselves, when we fail them and when we fail ourselves, this sort of thing happens only too easily. This is what happened between me and my friend.

For someone to lose my friendship, this kind of friendship, they would have to be other, by which I mean that in the act of wrongdoing they would have to betray themselves just as much as they had betrayed me. They would have to act entirely out of character; their wrongdoing would have to shock more than it hurt me.

That didn’t happen.

We give up our friendships too easily over troubles that can be solved with a little, or sometimes quite a lot, of careful thought.

None of us is perfect, least of all me, and if and when it comes time for me to show some weakness or do some wrong I hope and believe that I too shall be forgiven.

Monday 13 January 2014

If this is Alan Moore’s last interview it’s a doozy!

I sat down at the weekend to flick through the papers with the idea that I’d write something for the blog today. I was disappointed. There didn’t seem to be much to write about, unless I wanted to give my opinion about Israel and Palestine and a newly deceased man who’d been in a coma for eight years.

I couldn’t help thinking if I opened that particular can there would, very quickly, be worms everywhere, and my opinion is both bigger and more contradictory than a single blog or a hundred blogs could possibly contain, and, besides, I hardly feel qualified to comment at all.

Everything else either in the news or in the extensive comments and lifestyle sections of the weekend papers seemed trivial by comparison.

As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely discuss comics...

Yes, I know I said everything seemed trivial by comparison to the state of the Middle East, and it does, but that never stopped me expressing a thought before, did it?

I rarely talk about comics because that’s the husband’s territory and because, frankly, I don’t read a very great number of them. In fact, the last time I blogged about comics my thoughts appeared on the very day that CLiNT folded, and it was its founder that I was talking about. There’s nothing like a coincidence to stop me in my tracks and that was one hell of a coincidence!

Anyway, as far as comic books are concerned, I like them to be on the European side rather than the American, and I like them to break new ground, push the envelope, trouble me a little.

Alan Moore, beautifully drawn by Frank Quitely
and photographed by C B Cebulski
It might not surprise you, then, to know that I have been a bit of a fan of Alan Moore in my time, and, as far as I’m concerned, you should be too.

Late on Friday night, while the husband and I were winding down for the weekend, he sent me a link to an interview that Alan Moore gave answering a number of questions that have been floating around for some time, and that were compiled and presented to the writer by Pádraig Ó Méalóid. I spent the next while reading the interview. It’s a long piece offering a unique view and even a number of opinions not directly asked for, but, I thought, genuinely interesting non-the-less. 

I’m going to say little else except that if you are interested in Alan Moore, in comic books or even in writing generally then you might enjoy reading this interview, which, if Moore is to be believed, might be among the last of its type from him.

The little else I am going to say is that this piece gives us all a unique insight into a writer’s mind. I live and sometimes work with a writer, and, from time to time, I also write myself. Writers are a strange breed, often solitary, at their best clever and thoughtful, but also often opinionated and alienating. Their opinions are uniquely their own and born of strange minds clamped to even stranger and often wild imaginations.

For me, Moore’s most interesting comments are on the work and his approach to it. I was less moved by the section relating to Grant Morrison and Moore’s opinion of the man, but this too exposes something of the character of the writer... any writer, I think, under certain circumstances, in a competitive environment.

Grant Morrison rebuts Alan Moore over here, just in case you’re interested. 

So you know, I’ve never met either Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, but if I could read work written by only one of them I would choose Alan Moore every time.

Back soon. 

Thursday 9 January 2014

Cigarettes and Whisky and Wild, Wild Women...

Well just the cigarettes really Oh, and Kate Moss OK, and some whisky.

Kate Moss smoking a cigarette
I don’t know whether it’s just because it’s the New Year and we’re all obsessed with resolutions and cleaner living, but last weekend’s papers seemed to me to be filled with cigarettes or the reminders of them. The Saturday Guardian alone had front page news about the cost of the NHS, a full page article on Kate Moss turning 40 (and I couldn’t help remembering all the times I’d seen her with a fag in her hand or between her lips), and a DPS (that’s double page spread) on e-smoking; and all before the mid-point of the main paper.

I don’t often admit to having been a smoker, mostly because it seems arbitrary now, but I was, (on and off) for a long time; for so long, in fact, that the first time I stopped smoking it was because a pack of twenty had gone from 98 new pence to a quid as the result of a Conservative budget. When I started smoking you could still smoke everywhere, including in all bars and restaurants, in shopping centres, on buses, trains and in aeroplanes, and, if memory serves, Woolworths still had ashtrays on stands inside their shops. Of course, we no longer even have Woolworths.

I stopped smoking on December 5th 2008. Yes, I know the date seems arbitrary so close to the New Year, but that’s when I stopped. I stopped dead, I didn’t use any substitutes, as I figured they were just something else to become addicted to, and I stayed stopped. The brand I used to smoke now costs more than £8-50 for twenty, which is 42.5 new pence each, and about the cost of a pack of ten when I took up the habit. 

I have it on pretty decent authority that cigarettes cost about a new penny each to make. The current taxes payable on an average packet of cigarettes in the UK is about £6-20 or £2,263.00 per year for a pack a day smoker.

Smoking is bad. I am never going to be an apologist for the habit and nor am I going to take it up again, although I have often said that if I get to the age of eighty I’m going to smoke as many fat Cuban cigars, drink as much single malt whisky and have as much sex as I damned well please (assuming it’s still possible to buy tobacco and alcohol legally, and that anyone’s still willing to indulge me with the other).

Here’s my point, because you know very well that I’m going to make one. The government is willing to do almost anything to stop us smoking in public places, but it absolutely isn’t willing to stop us smoking. The government might tell you that’s about human rights and free will, but if nicotine and alcohol were new substances to the market they’d be very heavily regulated or banned entirely as other drugs are. Opiates used to be available to buy over the counter at all good pharmacies, but were subsequently regulated, and the same applies to firearms. 

Some would argue that the taxes on cigarettes pay for the medical care that cigarette smokers need as a result of the habit that they choose, and it’s true that there are plenty of illnesses exacerbated by cigarette smoking and plenty of diseases caused by it. However, cigarette smokers live shorter lives than non-smokers, and the single biggest NHS expense is geriatric care. Dead smokers don’t need geriatric care and they don’t claim their state pensions.

If you want to screw the government, and don’t we all, one of the things you can do is not pay exorbitant taxes on cigarettes by not smoking them. You could give up smoking or you could simply not start in the first place.

When I started smoking it was still cool, chic, glamorous to do it. We didn’t stand huddled in the cold and rain away from the party. We stood at the bar or sat at tables and enjoyed each others’ company. Pubs didn’t smell of stale beer and body odour and vomit masked with too much bleach and air freshener, which, even as a non-smoker is a far nastier atmosphere than the smoky haze of yore. 

Smoking isn’t cool anymore or sociable and it’s bloody expensive, and let me say just one more time that it’s the government that’s taking your money, not the tobacco growers or even the big corporations. 

Go find something more sociable to do, grow old and take something back.

Friday 3 January 2014

The Cruellest Month

Eliot declared April to be the cruellest month, but I’m tempted to nominate January.

April at least gives us a hint of spring, and while November has its miseries, at least we all have Christmas and New Year’s to look forward to.

What does January have to offer, except for the promise of February? And, for heaven’s sake, February is seldom any better with its equally long dark nights and its equally cold wet days.

I’m taking the Christmas gubbins down today, and the dort is off back to college at the weekend, so it would be all too easy to feel as blue as it’s possible to feel, but I’ve decided against it. I’ve decided to make a concerted effort not to allow misery back into my life, not if I can help it.

So, here’s the plan, and feel free to join in... It’s a jolly plan, and I can’t help feeling it might just help these thirty-one days pass a little more easily than they otherwise might.

It crossed my mind that, in this household at least, the Christmas tree usually goes up on Christmas Eve and comes down on Twelfth Night, and since it’s my birthday on Christmas Eve, why not celebrate Twelfth Night too.

So, that’s part one of my plan: Let’s find a way to celebrate Twelfth Night. We might only finish off the  mince pies and pop to the pub for a whisky mac, but we certainly intend to mark the occasion in some way or another.

Then there’s that lovely invitation we received from Scottish acquaintances of ours to a Burn’s Night party on the 25th. Brilliant! I’m half-Scottish on my mother’s side, so that’s all the excuse I need. We hardly know the party givers at all, but an invitation is an invitation and why would they have invited us if they didn’t intend for us to go? So, I’ve RSVP-ed.  That’s two dates for the diary and I’ve hardly begun.

The first full moon of the year on January 16th might bring out the lycanthrope in some of you, and any full moon certainly does something to the husband, but it also happens to be when some Buddhists celebrate the New Year, and Thursdays are always good for me. A good meal with family sounds like a nice way to celebrate, so I’ve booked that in, too.

While we’re on the subject of New Year’s. The Chinese will celebrate New Year on January 31st, so this month will begin and end with a bang. I’m dragging the husband off to town for a walk around and a good lunch. Job done.

January will probably be as long and dull and cold as it always is, and it generally feels interminable. The difference is that this year I plan for it to have several highlights along the way, because if I don’t plan them the winter blues will take over, and I’m just not having it! Do you hear me? I’m not falling into that trap... not this year!

Apropos of jollying us all along, here’s some fab dancing. The dort starts the show; she's the blonde in the middle wearing the groovy bib overalls. Enjoy!

Thursday 2 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I’ve never been much given to making New Year’s resolutions, and this year doesn’t feel like the time to start, but I am going to start the year by talking about them, not least because the husband sent me this link to a list of New Year’s Rulin’s as written and illustrated by the great Woody Guthrie in 1943.

It strikes me that most people resolve, at any time of the year, to give up bad habits or adopt good ones; it’s all about losing weight or going to the gym, or about giving up smoking or becoming a vegetarian. Dry January has become a thing now, hasn’t it?

Woody Guthrie’s list includes thirty-three items for consideration, which seems like a lot, until you begin to dissect the list, and realise what a creative mind can be like. Not for this man the idea of a new beginning, of a fresh start, of the need to alter a portion of his life, to become more or less of something. This list begins with first principles of mind, body and soul.

Woody Guthrie’s list includes reminders to love, ten of them, depending on what you count and whether practical demonstrations of love, such as sending home money to feed your wife and children is, in fact, an act of necessity. 

Talking of acts of necessity, Guthrie also includes certain reminders to the practical on his list of rulin’s. Perhaps twenty of his resolutions might be considered to fall into this category and include changing his socks and shining his shoes. It seems entirely like him not to choose to have his shoes shined for him.

There’s something rather pathetic about the list when we look at it like this, when we think about it as the sort of list we might make, but it’s not like that is it? It’s not like that at all.

Of course Woody Guthrie needed to remind himself to shine his shoes or brush his teeth, because when he was deep into his work all other things went by the wayside. That’s probably why he had to remind himself to love his mother and send money to his wife, too.

He had to remind himself to work, to schedule, to write every day, because the creative mind still needs discipline; nothing comes out of chaos, and, for some artists and makers of things, without those schedules, without that order, facing the work just becomes too damned hard.

Then there’s the other stuff... Then there’s the magic... Then there’s the real list, lurking among the detritus of a corporeal life. This is the list that really shows us who Woody Guthrie was, this exposes the song-writer, the performer, the political activist. As with many a great song, the good stuff in this list comes right at its heart, and then, of course Guthrie ends with a bang.

This is the portion of Woody Guthrie’s 1943 list of New Year’s Rulin’s we could all take notice of:

15. Learn people better
17. Don’t get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight

And here’s the list in its entirety:
1. work more and better, 2. work by a schedule, 3. wash teeth if any, 4. shave, 5. take bath, 6. eat good - fruit - vegetables - milk, 7. drink very scant if any, 8. write a song a day, 9. wear clean clothes - look good, 10. shine shoes, 11. change socks, 12. change bed clothes often, 13. read lots good books, 14. listen to radio a lot, 15. learn people better, 16. keep rancho clean, 17. don’t get lonesome, 18. stay glad, 19. keep hoping machine running, 20. dream good, 21. bank all extra money, 22. save dough, 23. have company but don’t waste time, 24. send Mary and kids money, 25. play and sing good, 26. dance better, 27. help win war - beat fascism, 28. love Mama, 29. love Papa, 30. love Pete, 31. love everybody, 32. make up your mind, 33. wake up and fight.