Federal Politics


No resolutions but ... some dissolution

I'm doing jobs I've avoided all year, Jenna Price writes.

No way am I making New Year's resolutions. A complete and utter waste of time. What steels my resolve is adversity and that never seems to make itself apparent on January 1. In fact, the year stretches out with a kind of silver halo around it, looking mildly angelic, filled with the success of imagination. In that imagination, I am finally confident enough to ride a bicycle in traffic; a strong enough swimmer to surf; with enough energy and concentration to read a book each and every week (and, no, I am not counting anything by Alexander McCall Smith*).

Also, manage my finances so I can travel all the years left before my knees give out (fantasies of the Venice Biennale in late autumn) - apparently, travel insurance is prohibitive once you hit 70. And stiff knees are even more frightening.

So no resolutions but some dissolution. And I complete chores I've put off all year.

Now is certainly the time for summer cleaning (way too busy in spring). I attempted to fill my drawers with cloves to kill the moths who flew past me in a peloton; and ended up with a bedroom that smelled like Christmas pudding. I culled old magazines, receipts and beloved socks with holes that will never be darned (stop kidding yourself, Jenna). I tried to find a way to file emails that actually works (and this from someone who has never willingly deleted an email from 2005 onwards). I realised I finally had too many clothes for one cupboard and threw some into a pile to take to the local Vinnies, where I should have driven them immediately. Instead, in three days, most had migrated back to the cupboard. I left a message for the tax accountant and felt very virtuous because he usually nags me in the first week of February.

And this time of year I remove the books I've wanted to read all year from my bedside table (where they have spined at me reproachfully since the last holiday). They make an un-neat pile and every flat surface has enough dust to tempt me to get out the rags. Almost. Finally, I finished The Omnivore's Dilemma, Dial M for Murdoch, Bring Up the Bodies, Boomerang (OK, about three-quarters of the way through but I've read a lot about financial meltdowns already).

Now, it's The Signal and the Noise by forecaster, blogger and New York Times celebrity Nate Silver, an adorably precocious nearly 35 (yes, I am old enough to be his mum). It starts with more about meltdowns but begins with the premise that the way we predict leads us astray. That's because we don't look at all the available evidence, just what suits us. If we did examine everything, Silver says: ''We will be forced to acknowledge that we know less about the world than we thought we did.'' Ping! A bell goes off. That's it, right there, that woman waving furiously is me acknowledging that I know less about the world than I thought I did. I'm exactly at the middle of the bell-shaped curve, which begins when I am a teenager, extremely confident I know it all, and ends when I am a righteously cranky old person, furiously delivering edicts from my bed in palliative care somewhere (assuming I follow in the steps of my sainted* mother).


This year, 2013, will be absolutely appalling, riddled with people purporting to know it all on our behalves - every single bloody politician and lobbyist will be leaping down our throats. It won't make me want to vote for them or their policies. Instead, it will just make me want to gag. Them.

I think I want politicians to be more authentic, less certain. Is that too much? Too unrealistic? When did we start expecting these people to have all of the answers, all of the time? Is it our fault in any way? Do we need to be a different kind of electorate, more accepting of mistakes and less accepting of the declamatory denunciations we heard every single day last year?

I am, however, in honour of the incoming year, sending positive and affirming emails and text messages, Facebook posts and tweets, wishing people a happy new year.

That's because I know full well that relatives and friends, readers, non-readers, all Australians really, will wake up on January 29 and have the same sense of dread they had when regular operations ceased functioning some time in the week before Christmas.

And let's hope no-one plans to call an early election, Because that will really put an end to the fun times. From then on, it will be grumpy new year.

* My secret addiction when I am tired and/or stressed is definitely not vitamin pills. It is every single book ever written by Alexander McCall Smith. I recommend them as an antidote to real life; and just occasionally they work as a sedative and I don't mean that impolitely.

* Sainted is how one of McCall Smith's protagonists describes her own mother. It's fairly unlikely my own children will ever use it to describe me.

■ Follow me on Twitter @jennaprice or email jenna_p@bigpond.net.au