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New Year's resolutions

by Victoria Lucas

6th February 2005

I am a seriously flawed human being and changes must be made!

No, I'm not referring to my face and plastic surgery, so you can put away your scalpels! I'm referring to my other flaws - my immaturity, my laziness, my ability to eat a family-sized pizza in one sitting. Something must be done.
That's why I love this time of year, because I can take a good hard look at all my flaws, come up with several New Year's resolutions and become convinced that within six months - with a bit of self-discipline and positive thinking - I'll be damn near perfect. But by mid-March, my resolutions have usually been forgotten.

So in order to try to make a good start, this year I have written down my six New Year's resolutions, in the hope that by making them public I will get me the jolt of discipline that I so desperately need.
Victoria's favourites: fizzy cola sweets

Resolution 1: grow up

When I was fourteen, I was very serious and mature. Like a lot of disabled teenagers, I was bullied at school, so I would spend my lunchtimes hiding in the school library and reading all kinds of adult literature. Now I'm twenty-five years old and derive enormous pleasure from renting out The Karate Kid on DVD, eating two pounds of fizzy cola bottle sweets and reading Harry Potter. What went so horribly wrong? Am I aging in reverse? In five years time, when I hit the big three-oh, will I be dancing in my bedroom to Take That? I simply must remember my age and try to be serious in 2005.
Homer Simpson

Resolution 2: lose my outer Homer Simpson

I have met my doppelganger - and his name is Homer Simpson.

So there I am, sitting on my couch, watching The Simpsons whilst stuffing myself with Quality Street and fizzy cola bottle sweets (which you'll notice feature quite heavily in my diet). I look up at the television and suddenly realise that Homer is also sitting on his couch and stuffing his face whilst watching TV. I was his exact mirror reflection - but with more hair. I immediately vowed that come the New Year, I would be less Homer Simpson and more Nicole Kidman.

My problem is that I have an enormous appetite. It is well known that if you put any item of food under my nose which passes the 'sniff test', then I'll eat it. If I've had a bad day, been stared at a lot and it's just got too much for me, then I'll eat the entire contents of my fridge. This is partly a comfort thing; it's also partly to do with me being a greedy piggy who likes her cake!

2005 will be the year that I learn to eat like a bird - and I don't mean Big Bird from Sesame Street either. Mind you, I could argue that eating cake is an access requirement because it alleviates my depression. Hmm ...
A charity collecting tin

Resolution 3: bug a Chugger

If there was one thing that really annoyed me in 2004, it was being constantly harassed by Chuggers (charity muggers) in central London, as they leapt out at me in the street shouting, "Can you spare two minutes for children?!" Unfortunately, if there's one thing more annoying, it's NOT being asked if I can spare two minutes for children, because then I get paranoid. Do they think I hate children? Do they think I'm poor and feel sorry for me? Do they think I'm a tight-arsed cow who wouldn't even give twenty pence to a crippled orphan? Do I smell bad? Or is it simply that I'm too funny looking for them, eh?

May 2005 be the year in which I finally get the courage to go up to the Chuggers and shout, "Spare two minutes for the disabled!" and demand that they give monthly payments by direct debit into my bank account.
A woman exercising in a gym

Resolution 4: learn to enjoy exercise

I need to get fit, but I have no enthusiasm about exercise. It probably stems from my school days: never being asked to join the other girls' sports teams, being forced to dance in an appallingly tight black leotard, not to mention once having a netball purposely thrown at my head with the intention of killing me. Yep, probably stems from that.

In my adult life, I have tried to take up jogging. However, I can only do it at 5.00am so that members of the public won't have to witness the embarrassing sight of me trying to run. I've tried to join a gym, but it ended horribly because the place was full of Stepford Wives and I was not the kind of clientele that they wanted. I've tried to take up exercise at home using a Rosemary Conley video, but I found her too annoying and wanted to smack her within ten minutes. I can't swim because the water stings my eyes. I can't play tennis because my double vision means I see two tennis balls coming towards my face and my automatic reflex is to duck. So if anyone knows of a good exercise video or a warm and friendly gym in London that caters specifically for fat, funny-looking, visually-impaired females with a fitness phobia, please let me know!
Vegetables cooking in a saucepan

Resolution 5: learn to cook

I've always wanted to know how to cook - and I don't just mean how to cook meat and two veg, because anyone can shove a chicken breast in the oven and over-boil a bag of peas. I want to know how to cook soups and curries, and how to use those strange exotic things called herbs and spices. I want to be the kind of woman who says, "Hmm ... that dill would go lovely with the fresh salmon!" instead of the woman who says, "Hi. I'd like to order the spicy meat special on deep pan please. Large".

It's important that I learn to cook healthy, nutritious food because my disability means that I sometimes have headaches and bouts of low energy, and eating junk food doesn't exactly help. It won't be easy though, given my background. I was brought up in a family where experimenting with cooking meant having the sweet and sour flavour Chicken Tonight sauce instead of the creamy mushroom one.

Resolution 6: be nice to people - especially non-disabled people!

I've always tried to be nice to non-disabled people. I've always tried to remember that just because they look different - what with their small chins, straight backs, two arms, two legs and preference for walking - it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with them inside. I've always tried to see their disability and forget that they're normal. But it can be hard because, let's face it, they're so boring. A dozen of them can walk into a room and I won't even notice that they're there. There's no scar, no lump, bump or missing limb by which to notice them. It can be all too easy to patronise them.

But this year I have decided to conquer my prejudices and be nice to them. They are, after all, human. Some of them even seem quite nice ... until they go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like, "Oi you! Why don't you go and have some plastic surgery on yer face!"

Oh please. Normality is so 2004.
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