Tim Lott's column in the Family section of the Guardian last week started with a sobering, though not surprising, observation - according to surveys of New Year resolutions, what people care about is themselves (apart from seeing more of friends and family, the top five concern me, me, me). Now there certainly is some truth in the belief that in order to a better person, we need to look after ourselves first, but it is still depressing (and I am aware I am writing this on a personal blog, which is part of the whole navel-gazing, self-improvement culture we live in).
I haven't thought up any resolutions, but John set a good template, which consists of three SMART ones (lifestyle, creative and giving back) and one 'fluffy' one (i.e. vague and therefore probably hardest to do), and at least three of them have the potential to include the wider world. I need to think about mine.
The only 'newness' I have incorporated into this brand new year so far is cleaning the fridge, getting rid of paper (the only household chores I have felt fit enough for, as I have the flu), buying new music and starting a new sketchbook. Being sick has meant the luxury of listening to several Desert Island Discs episodes in a row and reading for hours. The programme had me in tears several times, from George Michael's answer to why he was in a relatively good place (it was recorded in 2007) - "Nobody died on me...in years...it took years for me to believe that these blows weren't gonna keep coming" - to Emma Bridgewater talking about her mother's death, and in general just the sheer humanity pouring out of the guests (I loved Mary Robinson's episode).
It is of course an excellent source for finding or rediscovering songs (and books), and I have been listening to Rufus Wainwright's "Going to a Town" about the Bush administration (very timely again this month), one of George Michael's choices and a song he would later cover.
Going through a pile of cuttings, I ended up looking up different singers, which eventually led me to this heartbreaking video (more on the song and animation here), which includes drawings made by refugee and displaced children supported by CARITAS - all net proceeds from sales of the single go to Australia's ASRC (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre).
My sister knows me well and got me a sketchbook that is asking me to sketch every day, and I have a feeling that with this one, I will. My first sketch is of our small armchair by the stove in the kitchen, with the blanket my sister and brother-in-law gave us for Christmas last year and a cushion knitted by John's late grandmother, which is the object he chose from her house.