Romsey the pig and me

New Year both is, and is not, a difficult time of year for those of us of an unusually feckless disposition. Although there is the nagging matter of resolutions, not one of which I have ever successfully kept (with the exception of 2007's resolution to smoke more), there is also the consolation that because they are largely meaningless gestures, it does not necessarily matter that they are not kept. This time, though, like molesworth, I have resolved to be GOOD and so I am going to damn well keep them. And if I don't, you can shoot me.

This New Year's Day was particularly auspicious, for reasons that are none of your beeswax, so I feel that if Providence is going to be kind to me, it is only simple good manners to try and continue to appease her. (Although the Epicureans, of whom I count myself one, rejected the idea of Providence, I know the difference between a run of good and bad luck when I see it and I'm not going to risk matters by saying there is no such thing.)

First, the hardest one of all. This is the resolution that This Year I Am Going To Finish Writing My Book, which has been an annual,
and increasingly aggravating, institution since 1997. This hasn't entirely been down to my own indolence. It's also because the subject, for which I received a substantial but long-since-spent advance, turned out to be of rather more breathtaking complexity than either I or my publisher had bargained for. We have since come to the agreement that maybe it would be better to write a book about something that does not involve my having to grasp every single aspect of popular culture since the dawn of time.

So this year, my resolution does not involve an excursion into the land of fantasy and should not provoke those infuriating questions from my friends about How The Book Is Coming Along. Had I known how many times I would be asked, and how horrible it would get to be asked this, I wouldn't have started in the first place.

The second one is to try to be tidier. Actually, I already am tidier than I used to be, but this is really to say no more than that the site
of Chernobyl is less radioactive than it used to be. It's still pretty radioactive. I am not sure how I managed to get this way, but somehow I can fuck up a room merely by sticking my head in the doorway. (If I want to render it uninhabitable, all I have to do is walk through it.)

It is usually women who tell me that this is an unacceptable area of my character, but when men start complaining about your mess, then you realise it is time to do something about it. Razors (whose resolution this year, I gather from his Facebook page, is to start smoking) has been making the odd pointed comment lately, and when even I can notice that the dining table is covered in review copies and unopened tax demands, I concede that the time for action has come.

The third one . . . oh, hang it, I think those two are enough. I might, though, nod vaguely in the direction of restricting my intake of wine to one bottle a night and maybe even eating the odd portion of vegetables and . . . what's the other thing that the quacks say
we should eat more of? Round things, like sweets, but bigger and not as nice. Oh yes, fruit. I should eat more fruit. Razors sometimes buys these things that are orange and about half the size of a cricket ball. The name begins with a T, rhymes with margarine, and when he gets back from his hols I shall ask him how to peel them. I assume they need peeling. And I think the same applies to the curved fruit whose name begins with a B. You know the ones. They start off yellow and then go black.

But resolutions all fall under the category of self-control, and if I can exercise more self-control than Romsey the pig, who is the new mascot of the Empress in Cambridge, then things should be OK. Romsey, although a pig of unusual charm and good-natured disposition, has both stolen and scrounged so many bar snacks that the landlord has had to put up a sign in the pub. "Do not feed the pig," it says, "especially pork scratchings."Wish me Providence.

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 11 January 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Obama: the year of living dangerously