It’s been a bit of a lean year for the old do-gooding, the tail end of the social work degree stealing my time, energy, interest and imagination the way a Kevin Costner movie does. Still, we managed a bit. We despatched Al Gore to encourage a spot of energy efficiency in the office, binned our Bank of Scotland credit card for stopping its charitable donations, filled the uni mag with rants on meddling and pro-social social networking, used our dissertation to help asylum seekers battling with the local authority and its lousy policies, banned junk mail from Zero Towers and qualified as an actual real life social worker. That done, and settled in a childcare team keeping an eye on the under 12s of the world, we renewed our veggie vows, took the White Ribbon pledge to condemn violence against women, bought a less polluting but still polluting car, ran a 10k, mud run and half marathon to help raise £3,000 for Nepali street children, signed and spammed about the No More Page 3 campaign, remembered Troy Davis, audited our do-gooding, gave Wonga a kicking, got proper inspired by the Glasgow Girls, grew a horrific moustache to save people’s balls, helped out at a car crash, learnt a bit of suicide intervention and ranted almost constantly about massive coalition wrongnesses. And with the increasingly occasional Charity of the Month we gave to Anne Frank House, Disability Rights UK, Women’s Aid, Buttle UK, me, Kiva, Movember and The Samaritans on top of our regular donations to our most beloved chazzas.
And then there was the small matter of my new year’s resolutions, a cluster of low-rent ambitions so hastily cobbled together and even more hastily forgotten about that this paragraph’s about to get very embarrassing. First, I vowed to become a better vegetarian, something I achieved on a rather half-assed level. My left bum cheek bought some multi-vitamins to plug the gaps in my otherwise lousy diet, started snacking on nuts and seeds to actually get some protein down my neck, and cooked one or two meals using actual ingredients rather than just slinging some ready-made, mutant-looking, meat-free sludge in the oven. It’s been an okay start, the bonus being I can use the same resolution again this year. Second, I aimed to give more to charity, looking to reach about ten percent of my take-home pay once I’d battered through my colossal student debt. I’ve made similar progress there, my right bum cheek bumping up my donations to about six percent which isn’t bad considering the remaining colossalness of my colossal student debt. Third, I promised to buy the most environmentally friendly car I could manage once my old car died completely. It did, obviously, and I did an okay job of getting a half-decent replacement. I couldn’t afford anything in the way of an electric or hybrid car but I got a diesel with lower emissions that’s so far saved a couple thousand kilograms of carbon dioxide being spewed into Al Gore’s sensitive lungs. That’s a solid bit of resolutioning, that is. And fourth, I vowed to switch to an electricity supplier trading only in renewable energy. That hasn’t happened, what with the forgetting all about it and then the remembering about it but realising I couldn’t afford it yet. I’m all for paying a bit more to save the world but it’s had to be bumped to the post-debt era in what even my most loyal supporters are calling a humiliating failure of Lib Dem proportions. Still, that new set of resolutions are writing themselves, aren’t they?
So for 2013 we’ll start with the better vegetarian thing, actually learning what’s to be done with the likes of tofu, lentils, vegetables and my kitchen and turning them into edible meals. Add to that a working knowledge of yer basic nutrition and a hefty increase in protein and smugness and that’ll be me sorted. Next, the electricity thing. What with us having to be the change we wish to see in the world I’ll sign up for a more expensive but beautifully clean supplier that uses only wind, water, sunshine or human spinal fluid to power the many spy cameras I have placed around Al Gore’s bedroom. Third, the charity thing. I need to restart regular donations to the likes of Care International and WaterAid on my way to the ten percent target, showing how atheism rolls with the tithing. And fourth, I’ll aim to do my job well. That shouldn’t take a resolution but it’s easy to get worn down quickly in social work, easy to turn to them-and-us thinking, easy to drift to the right. It’s easy to forget people are products of their environments, easy to get frustrated with their inability to change, easier to blame people than the environments that made them and the systems that keep them in place. I’ll aim to keep my lefty principles intact, keep up with research to make sure what I’m doing works, and be as awesome as it’s possible to be.
I will do this. I will do all of this. In November, when I remember I wrote this whole bastard of a thing.
Photo credit: The Zero