THE thing about New Years is that they force you to take stock of your life.
They give you a chance to look back at the previous 12 months and see what you would have done differently, in order to make your life improve, to be a stronger you, a happier you.
For me, 2016 was a rickety roller coaster of exhilarating highs and devastating lows. And, looking back now, I know what I would have done better.
For example, I know that I would be a better, happier, and, crucially, richer person had I worn different trousers on Boxing Day.
When I got home from visiting on Christmas Eve, I changed into my “not going out” trousers. I will not attempt to describe these trousers, suffice to say they are built for comfort rather than style. It was only then I realised I had forgotten to buy satsumas, and what is Christmas without a small orange you can buy all year round?
I rushed to the nearest branch of Britain’s Best-Loved Struggling Retailer and bought the necessary citrus globes, hoping that shoppers and staff would be too busy with Christmas preparations to ask questions about my trousers.
And then from Christmas Eve afternoon until Boxing Day I largely confined myself to my flat, in a brave and largely successful attempt to avoid ruining Christmas for everybody else.
But Boxing Day afternoon came around, and I had to go to work. The greatest divide in this country is not between Leavers and Remainers or Strictly fans and X-Factor fans. It is between those people who have to work every Bank Holiday and those who do not.
To people like me, the words “Boxing Day” do not mean “day of eating cheese and the rest of the Roses and seeing the relatives who didn’t make the Christmas Day cut”. They mean “day I still have to go to work, but there aren’t any buses or trains when I want to come home.”
I dressed for work, leaving behind my “not going out” trousers, and donning my “going out” trousers, and prepared to step out, blinking, into the light, like a mole emerging from Hollister.
And as I slammed my flat’s door behind me, before the echo died away, I realised that my “going out” trousers had been transformed into my “going out and not getting back in” trousers.
For I had transferred my flat key from my “going out” trousers to my “not going out” trousers on Christmas Eve, and had completely forgotten that I needed to switch it back.
“Oh,” I thought. “This is very disappointing. This is going to inconvenience me quite massively.”
I wondered for a moment just how much locksmiths charge for a call-out on Boxing Day, but the calculation made my jaw ache, and I sat on the staircase leading up to my flat with my head in my hands. I was not going to let this beat me and I was certainly not going to shell out a load of money the day after Christmas.
I have seen enough films in my time. I flicked through my wallet and found a plastic card I do not need any more. Which, it transpired, was just as well.
Could I get into trouble for this, I wondered? Surely not, as it was my own flat.
I wiggled it into the gap between the door and the frame, and tried to fiddle the lock open. But it turns out that films are full of lies. My efforts were fruitless. On the bright side, I have now discovered a new and glamorous way to destroy expired credit cards.
I sat back on the stairs, like Kermit the Frog’s nephew, Robin, and contacted my long-suffering colleagues to explain my temporary absence.
Eventually I got through to the emergency maintenance contractor, who told me that I would be paying time and a half for him to come round with a key and let me in, because it was Boxing Day and nobody works on Boxing Day. I decided not to beg to differ, because I wanted to see the inside of my flat before 2017.
He arrived and let me in with his skeleton key. “Why didn’t you lock the mortice?” he said, as he pushed the door open. “That’s not very secure.”
“Because I didn’t have my key,” I explained, as I handed over a cash sum roughly equivalent to my day’s wages.
And at that moment I resolved that, in 2017, I would not forget the satsumas.