Smile and Wave The rehabilitation of a family man – a blog by Dr Billy Willcock

Smile and Wave
New Life

I have failed in my New Year’s resolutions, but to lesser degrees than usual, which is excellent. ‘Dry January’ lasted an entire fortnight. I hadn’t touched a drop of wine until the third week of January when I was compelled to by thirst, and it just so happened that the wine was closer than the tap. Thereafter, all other resolutions were just a pre-tense, so the following day I upped the failure and went the whole hog, by eating a whole hog (or thereabouts in fry-up terms), in what was supposed to be ‘Vegetarian January’ as well. It was delicious but it was deviant and important to hide from my wife. I therefore attempted to buy my three year old daughter’s silence with a sausage but, whilst I held up under cross examination, Betsy sang like a canary. She is quite incapable of lying and has absolutely no sense of loyalty. Or perhaps she does? No sausage for her next time. The moral high ground, as ever, belongs to my wife.

I’m trying to be philosophical about it all (I’ll try anything to take the guilt away) but, the way I see it, resolutions are more about self harm than personal growth. Hoping something good will happen by reconfiguring your faults is akin to sixteenth century alchemy, where “scientists” in the name of “science” would try to create new life (homonculi/little test tube people) by putrefying flasks of horse dung and semen. They were largely unsuccessful and, one imagines, single. The notion of creating new life from manure is a romantic one but, the truth is, it’s just rather hard to re-invigorate anything, or anyone, from rot.

People forget how painful birth is yet we ritually insist on being re-born every year. My life will always need some balance. If I’d succeeded with either ‘dry’ or ‘vegetarian’ January, then I’d have been compelled to spend the entirety of February intoxicated and eating only meat. That would have been messy. It’s definitely better to fail the way I did.

My parents’ dog died last year; she was a member of the family. They used to take her out for walks twice a day, they miss her very much; we all do. Last week, they got a new dog, Nell, a rescue dog who, in a single arcing leap, can jump fences five foot high. She now takes my parents out for a walk twice daily and I’m fairly certain that they’ve fallen in love with her. It’s quite clear to me that only life re-invigorates life.

I’ve told my wife that I should go surfing more, it is the last of my New Year’s resolutions. It keeps me young and it keeps me happy. I tell her that if I fail at this then I have nothing left, then I am nothing and, if not for my sake, I must do it for the sake of the children. If I can’t follow my dreams, then what kind of example will I be to them?

“Think about the children”, I tell her. “So they can share my experiences; I have so much to teach them.”

I kind of mean this but mostly I just say it because I want to go surfing more.

Vicky sees straight through me, so I’ve told her that if she doesn’t let me, then I’m going to take up sixteenth century alchemy and create a stink in the airing cupboard, an empty threat because we don’t know anyone with a horse. She says that of course I can go surfing, but it’s quid pro quo; I can go surfing, and she’s going for a spa weekend with her friends; it’s one of her resolutions.

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