Adam Lee Potter column - return of the native


- Credit: Archant

A seven-year-old’s ambitions for 2014 include a West End career but for her father - especially after a medical MOT - simple New Year’s resolutions work better

January is, of course, the month of resolutions: get fit, learn a language, climb Kilimanjaro. And what better way to embrace any such New Year intent than with a medical MOT?

But I was shocked by my mixed bag of results. I have, I’m told, the liver of a 19-year-old and the knees of a 76-year-old. Even the doctor seemed taken aback, telling me, only half-joking, that such a diagnosis gives hard-drinking journalists a bad name.

She then, sucking her teeth like a mechanic, told me sternly to give up squash. And so, naturally, I did what any self-respecting middle-aged man would do: I headed straight to my club to arrange a game pronto.

The secretary looked up as I limped crossly in and, startlingly, offered me a beer – at 9.30am. “It’s a little early for me,” I told him. “What?” he said, surprised. “But you’re a journalist.”

It’s enough to drive a hack to drink, this seemingly universal assumption that Fleet Street is one big addled puddle. There are a few drunks out there, to be sure, but arguably no more, percentage-wise, than you’d find in a shop, bank or hospital.

When I first went to work on a Sunday newspaper, 100 years ago, a friend of mine at the Daily Mail told me witheringly that all Sunday journalists belong to two distinct camps: triathletes or alcoholics. “You lot have just got way too much time on your hands to be anything else,” he said.

Most Read

As it happened, I became neither, which might explain my liver if not my knees. But they have at least, in their tiny way, spread much cheer. My mother-in-law was especially pleased. “Your knees are even older than mine,” she hooted.

So January is as good a time as any to reflect and take stock. As an old university chum depressingly pointed out: “If you were born on a Monday morning and you die on a Sunday evening, you’re already somewhere around Thursday afternoon”.

Some jolly soul has even invented a watch that counts down the hours, minutes and seconds to your final breath. My doomsaying pal would no doubt approve but I think I’ll stick with GMT.

Still, life is too short – however old you are – not to live each day as if it were your last. My seven-year-old daughter Dory lives this credo to the hilt. After seeing the magical Matilda on stage, she is fiercely determined to be a musical star, an ambition only galvanised when she landed one of the leading roles in her school play. My mum – a one-time West End actress herself – would have been utterly thrilled.

My objectives are less elaborate but equally vital. I have vowed to spend time with only truly lovely people: the nucleus of dear friends that enriches our lives.

For I’ve never agreed with Groucho Marx. Personally, I don’t care to belong to any club that won’t have me as a member.

Life is simply too precious to fritter away on anyone who treats you with indifference or contempt. Now that really is a resolution worth keeping.