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You get to a time in your life when you recognise the pointlessness of New Year’s resolutions. If you have been able to maintain your past promises-to-self you are probably boringly disciplined (and possibly desperately depressed). There’s only so much perfection we can manage. If you’ve been “drinking less but drinking better” every year since you first resolved to do so, you would now be drinking nothing, and it’s not certain you would be feeling fabulous as a result.

Most of the “self-improvement” promises we make (or used to make) have a health-conscious component. That’s why, together with the “drink less” item on the resolution list, there is usually an “eat better” and an “exercise more” injunction. Once again, you need to ask yourself why these “commitments” appear every January. Overwhelmed by our December excesses, we opt (unconvinced and unconvincingly) for reform. It’s like the ANC promising to end corruption: it’s the right and proper thing to do, but it’s almost ...

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