It's getting dangerously close to that time when, overexcited at the prospect of a new year, I sit down to make up my list of resolutions.
New Year's resolutions
It's getting dangerously close to that time when, overexcited at the prospect of a new year, I sit down to make up my list of resolutions. But rather than scribble down one or two things I hope to achieve over the following 12 months, it's always the same story.
Looking back at previous lists (what compels me to keep them I'll never know, but they are both a means to torture myself and a way of keeping track of things I have occasionally managed to succeed at), I begin to see a pattern emerging.
Out of the 20 or so tasks (yes, I know that's too much but I just can't help it) that I set myself each year, a good handful have made their way on to the list year in and year out. Perennial favourites have included learning to speak Arabic and reading 52 books in one year.
Alongside other regulars such as "take a round-the-world trip" and "write a novel", there have also been a number of what, in retrospect, can fairly be described as fad resolutions. "Learn to tap dance" reads one, from a list made back in 2007. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being ambitious and learning new things, but tap dancing? Really?
My only explanation for this particular resolution is I must have been watching Singin' in the Rain at the time - not an unlikely occurance, given my love of Gene Kelly. But that's not, by a long shot, the most obscure of them.
"Learn Hawaiian", reads another, courtesy of my 2005 list. Spurred on by a trip I had taken to Honolulu, after working in the US for the summer, I distinctly remember thinking it would be extremely beneficial to become fluent in the local dialect.
Five years on, I can tell you the name of the state fish - Humuhumu nukunuku apua'a, in case you were wondering - but that's about all. Other languages that have not made it past the list stage include German, Italian, Latin and Mandarin.
Still, past lists aside, I'm glad to say that this has been my most successful year in terms of completing the numerous challenges I set myself. My novel is just under the halfway mark, and I can order shawarma in Arabic from the shop around the corner.
As for 2011? I quite fancy learning how to play the fiddle. Who's with me?