World peace, health, puffy sleeves: my 12 wishes for a happy new year

Some people make resolutions on New Year’s Eve, but I prefer the Latino tradition of making wishes. Each person eats 12 grapes, one for each month of the coming year, and with each grape comes a wish. Tonight, close to midnight, I will grab my first grape and make my first wish.

1: I wish next year to be less biblical. We’ve had the fires and the floods, then more floods. There was also a mouse plague, and then a snake plague – the snake plague starting when the snakes realised how many mice were available to eat. Since owls eat snakes, I’m amazed we didn’t tumble into an owl plague. An owl plague would have been so “Australia 2022”. And all this was aside from the plague plague, otherwise known as COVID-19, the name serving to remind us of the year it emerged: yes, 2019. This means that, come tomorrow, it’s blighted our lives for some part of five long years. Starting tomorrow, I’d like the news to be a whole lot happier. And a whole lot duller.

2: I want a new dance craze. After the horrors of the Spanish flu and World War I, the battle-scarred and flu-weary populace rewarded itself with the roaring ’20s. Jazz. Art deco. Sexuality, by which they meant knee-length skirts. OK, it didn’t work out in the end but, for a few years, good times were to be had. The essential image: the fabulous flappers, dancing away to the Charleston. As it happens, the Charleston – song and dance – premiered in a musical in October 1923. A hundred years on, I believe we’re owed a similar level of exuberant fun. I just hope it happens before October.

Hopefully we’ll all be dancing like this by October.

3: Victory for Ukraine. I wish, fervently, for this. I also hope it delivers a lesson to others who dream of invading a smaller, more courageous, neighbour.

4: A food trend more interesting than kale. In times past, we’ve had the great sun-dried tomato boom; then came the balsamic vinegar craze (why wasn’t I told earlier?); and, more recently, the magnificent resurgence of haloumi. Go back further, and some of us are old enough to remember the arrival of the avocado (Hosanna! Hosanna!), or our first serve of tandoori chicken, the memory still a little erotic. Then along comes 2022 and it offers – drumroll – kale. Surely, 2023, you can do better.

5: Unanimity on the Voice to Parliament. All shoulders to the wheel. United we stand, etc. And as part of my wish: I hope wisdom arrives, a bit late, to those who’d seek political advantage by trying to turn a joyful moment into a shameful defeat.

6: Fewer streaming services. Normally, I like every business to succeed. This, though, is getting ridiculous. We started with Netflix and Stan, then – in 2021 and 2022 – they started multiplying like mice and snakes (see above). At last count, there were eight mainstream players. Subscribe to seven of them, and the show you want to watch will be on the eighth. All we want is to watch the show our friends are chatting about. Would it kill you, 2023, to bring out the scythe?

7: An electric ute at a reasonable price. My current ute is not in a good way. I’m nursing it along. It looks terrible (due to a driver who is unable to go near a farm gate or fence without hitting it). Also, most of the electrics (radio, aircon) no longer work. Also, the dog has rendered the back seat uninhabitable, even by himself. With luck, Clancy and I can last until October or November, but – please, 2023 – I need a good, affordable electric ute before the year is done.

8: World peace. I’m not a contestant in Miss Universe, but world peace should always be on everyone’s list.

9: A cashless gaming card. I wish we could limit the horrors of gambling and of money laundering. Also, I’d like to know it’s possible for an Australian politician to stand up to vested interests, despite the hysterical ad campaigns of those vested interests. Albo – on ya, mate – showed it was possible with the gas industry. My wish: the NSW Labor leader, Chris Minns, will be brave enough to follow his lead.

One wish for 2023? How about a fashion trend I can actually get behind?Credit:Not for Syndication

10: Health. And happiness. And a fairer go for everyone. (It’s getting close to midnight, so I’m hurrying.)

11: A fashion trend I can embrace. It’s not that I want to be unfashionable. But why would I want to wear leather shoes without socks? It’s unsanitary! And why would I want to buy pants that make a feature of my ankles? It looks as if the chap in question – he’s 35 years old – has had a recent growth spurt. I’d like male fashion that was more feminine. Colours. Puffy sleeves. Pirate shirts. Come on 2023, let us boys show off a little.

12: I hope we leave the planet better off. Rather than worse off, after another year’s trip around the sun.

Happy 2022 to you. But, hopefully, a happier 2023.

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