And so to 2023. “This year, I resolve to be nice to wasps.” New Year resolutions can be overrated. I am done with them. And so, here is a new take on the annual decision to forgo chocolate (lasts three days until you find that unopened box of Cadbury’s Roses); drink less (until the New Year’s Eve hangover is gone); stop cutting toenails in the dining room (transfer to sitting room).

I am looking at another option – the “I’ve done it once and never again” resolution.
Yes, I realise it’s a lazy alternative because these will either be things you have experienced and hated or messed-up on. But it does mean you can rebuff approaches to repeat them by claiming you have made a solemn vow never to do them again.

My first “never again” candidate is drinking home-made wine produced from stuff grown in people’s gardens or allotments. At the tender age of 15, I was introduced to a friend’s dad’s strawberry wine. It was delightful and I happily glugged the slightly syrupy vin fraise all evening. And I was fine . . . for a little while. Then, I was hit by the most terrible consequences, which meant two days off school and a very stern talking-to from my mum.

Ever since, I have viewed home-made wine with suspicion – even the vintages produced by the late, great vintner-chez-nous, Peggy Cole. She was renowned for her wine and once told me that when HM Princess Margaret visited her famous Suffolk garden, the royal visitor was directed round the back of the house rather than going through the front door, thus avoiding the many bottles that obstructed the ingress.

1973 was my year of vanities (I’ve chucked them on the bonfire now). This was when I decided my glasses, which I need in order to see, were blighting my beauty and, on a number of top dates, discarded them. The first accident occurred when, as was customary half a century ago, I jumped off the platform of a slowing number 2A bus and ran straight into a lamppost, profusely apologising to it for my clumsiness.

Only my pride was bruised – in contrast to the second accident. This happened at a posh waterborne restaurant moored on the Regent’s Canal, in London, called – wittily - the Barque and Bite. At the top of the steep wooden flight that led to the tables, I missed my footing and, without my specs, failed to locate the handrail and tumbled to the bottom, legs akimbo.

I came to rest at the feet of a fellow diner . . . who I recognised despite my myopia. It was Michael Aspel, a television presenter well-known for interviewing beauty pageant contestants. I might have expected him to ask if I was keen to travel the world and meet people. He just asked if I was all right. As is usual, with such painful and deeply embarrassing events, I said, yes, I was absolutely fine and sprang to my feet. The bruising, dear reader, was terrible.  

More recently – and readers of the East Anglian Daily Times may recall that I wrote about this, at length, at the time – I have determined never again to play Walking Football. It is a more sedate version of the beautiful game which, in this case, took place in a sports centre. I joined a group of gentlemen who had all been pretty good players in their younger days but, years later, were looking to keep fit and play the game they love without the same demanding level of physicality.

It was during the first half, as I walked (no running allowed) around the indoor court, that I realised I was hopeless at football. Yes, I could gather the ball and push it about but I couldn’t kick the flipping thing. My one on-target shot trickled along the floor and came to a halt several yards in front of the goal. And it got worse. Attempting to pass the ball, my movement stalled, I pitched forward and went face-first into a brick wall. I couldn’t even tell you who won the game. I’m not doing that again. 

Thus, I am content to simply avoid making the same mistake twice . . . and in resolving to do that, I am not classifying sloe gin as home-made wine.