IAIN LAFFERTY: My Great Leap Forward

For most secularists the busy month of December is recognised as a single party soaked, hedonistic binge that begins in late November and finally ends on the 2nd of January. Yet, it is also worth remembering that the end of the year is a time for planning for the future and target setting. Most people approach this task far too late and whilst still poisoned by overindulgence in the various activities they like to do best. As a result, knee jerk reactions are extolled as inflexible New Year resolutions, only to be swiftly abandoned as the self-loathing recedes into a fading memory.

However, if change is to be meaningful and sustained, then a degree of sober central planning is required. Having produced thirteen programs over sixty-five years, the masters of this game are the Chinese Communist Party and so, this year, I have finally decided to follow their example and publish my own Five Year Plan.

Economics- Given my highly developed lack of interest in climbing up the remunerated ranks of my chosen profession, I see wages stagnating over the next few years. A rise in expenditure is expected, however, as the roadworthiness of the family car is increasingly called into question. And if mortgage interest rates rise then we will need to plan for a cheaper brand of table wine and possibly a reduction in cheese consumption.

Growth Forecast- The hope is for a continued levelling of expansion, although the prospect of moving from a 34 to a 36 inch waist must be considered. Metrication could perhaps cloud the issue and avoid the stigma, although the important decision to be made in the future is whether to wear my belt above or below the beer gut. Note to self: Investigate elasticated trousers.

Culture- As soon as I can face the numerous excruciating telephone calls that it will involve, the Now TV package will be cancelled. All our audiovisual entertainment will then be sourced directly from the worldwide web via our woefully inadequate PCCW Internet connection. This will also help budgeting by keeping us in most nights, as streaming a single episode of Downton Abbey takes about 8 hours.

Fertility- We shall continue to operate at full capacity and maintain the current two-child policy. To insure this target fully from carelessness some tying of tubes may be considered in the future. I believe this can be done quite cheaply and efficiently in Thailand and so I could well be facing the prospect, and irony, of spending a weekend in Bangkok for the very antithesis of what many middle-aged married men go there for.

International Relations- Wise diplomatic solutions to problems will increasingly be avoided and conflict actively sought particularly when dealing with Governmental bodies and people in shops. In order to plan and recover from such incidents increasing isolationism is anticipated, as one approaches the age when one is happier going to the pub alone rather than with your own friends.

Politics- A slight drift to the right is inevitable as the political landscape matures over the next five years. However, as a reconstructed armchair revolutionary socialist this still gives me a long way to go before my opinions are ever considered dinner party compatible. Increasingly people may begin to mistake my fading desire for a workers utopia, for grumpiness.

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