||Kill a rat
And 100 other things to do this year
Thursday January 1, 2004
1 Divest yourself of everything that, as it turned out, really was just for Christmas: tree, gym membership voucher, fondness for mulled wine, new party shirt, large sack of hazelnuts, carols CD, goodwill towards men, paper hat. Remember that pets are not just for Christmas, unless they are sea monkeys.
2 Revise enemies list. Consider making up with any foes you have failed to vanquish thus far.
3 Repent. Every year has its own end-of-the-world predictions. A group called the Watcher Ministries has pegged 2004 as the year of the second coming, using complex calculations based on measurements of the Pyramid at Giza. Another apocalyptic number-cruncher named Clay Cantrell is more specific, setting October 17 as the start date for the Rapture. Australian doomsday prophet William Kamm, whose followers call him the Little Pebble, predicts the end of the world as we know it for Easter Sunday. In The Bible Code II: The Countdown, Michael Drosnin plumps for a June nuclear attack on New York City, touching off the third world war and hastening the end-time. One to keep your eye on.
4 Think about everything you failed to do in 2003. At the very least it will stop you focusing on all things you are failing to do in 2004.
5 Make new year's resolutions for 2005. Experience the profound satisfaction of delayed self-restraint.
6 Keep your head down. In August a large comet will brush northern France, raining debris on the Earth before exploding over the Aegean. At least that's what Nostradamus is predicting for 2004. Of course his lunatic quatrains have always been open to a certain amount of interpretation, but this is the central thesis of Comet of Nostradamus: August 2004: Impact!, a book which, it is widely predicted, will disappear off the face of the earth on September 1.
7 Scan the skies. We are expecting our closest encounter with an asteroid in the next 50 years on September 29, when the mysterious, turd-shaped Toutatis, or Asteroid 4179, swings by. Before you start wondering whether this is what Nostradamus had in mind, you should know that "close" in this context means four times the distance from the Earth to the moon.
8 Chuck out all your old opinions. It doesn't hurt to start afresh every once in a while. For the first few weeks of the year, your only contribution to any conversation should be the word "huh". Eventually you will form brand new opinions based on the abject stupidity of other people's opinions.
9 Get a PhD. The internet is full of diploma mills offering degrees in just about anything. Before the advent of top-up fees, £500 for a fake doctorate from the University of Royston Vasey might have seemed expensive, but suddenly it sounds jolly reasonable. One day we will all have them.
10 Erase your entire hard drive. Chances are this will happen at some point in the year anyway; this way you can make it feel like a liberating exercise instead of a terrifying crisis.
12 Celebrate the centenary of the New York subway system.
13 And Bloomsday (June 16 1904).
14 And Fifa.
15 And the banana split, Graham Greene, Salvador Dali and West Berkshire council.
16 Remain alert, but not alarmed.
17 Go and see the locusts. 2004 is the year that the 17-year locust emerges across the United States. Millions of them - they're actually a type of cicada - will make a loud, creepy buzzing sound all summer, breed, and then disappear for another 17 years.
18 Monitor the US elections. The American presidential election is scheduled for November 2. Why not spend the week in Florida, soaking up the sun, seeing the sights and ensuring that no large boxes of uncounted votes go missing?
19 Attend the Athens Olympics, August 13-29 2004. Where else can you watch Iraq play Afghanistan at beach volleyball?
20 Compete in the Athens Olympics. Have an unusual talent? Born anywhere interesting? There could be a team and a sport with a vacancy to suit your skills.
21 Take an extra day. February 29, to be precise. 2004 is a leap year, the first since 2000.
22 Wake up every morning and say to yourself, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California." This will serve to remind you that you are living in a surreal dream world where your actions have no consequences.
23 Watch Euro 2004 in Portugal. England's first match, against France, kicks off at 7.45pm on June 13.
24 Read the Hutton Inquiry Report, expected to be published on January 12
25 Kill a rat. 2003 was the year that the UK's rat population outpaced the human population, but if we all killed one each they would be practically endangered. This is no time to be squeamish. If you already kill rats for a living, keep up the good work.
26 Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster, the Moog synthesiser and, according to some, the birth of rock 'n' roll itself: both Bill Hailey's Rock Around the Clock and Elvis Presley's That's All Right Mama were recorded in 1954.
27 Tell everyone you know that rock 'n' roll actually dates from the 1951 recording of Rocket 88, written by Ike Turner, but often wrongly ascribed to Jackie Brenston, who did the vocals. Don't forget to mention that the pioneering fuzzy guitar sound was caused by a damaged amplifier which fell off the back of a truck on Highway 61.
28 Indulge in the new rock 'n' roll. No one can be sure what will officially become the new rock 'n' roll of 2004, but current contenders include gout, pipe-smoking, nudity, Latin, hockey, wind power and fixed-interest mortgages. Competition to be the new black is also stiff, with blue, very dark grey, fat stripes, shiny and moss-covered all still in with a chance.
29 Ignore the 50th anniversary of Playboy magazine and the Guinness Book of Records.
30 Be a man. The term "metrosexual" is, at press time, very last year. The latest incarnation of modern masculinity is still being hammered out by trendspotters, but it appears men will have a choice between HyperBloke, post-Beckhamist and Cheddarosexual, a growing demographic of lactose-tolerant urban males.
31 Abandon all use of any of the following phrases, or any variations or puns based on them: cheese-eating surrender monkey, weapons of mass destruction, shock and awe.
32 Increase your debt load. If you happen to have some debt already, don't do a thing; it will get bigger all by itself.
33 Load your entire CD collection on to your new iPod, then lose it.
34 Place a bet on Gordon Brown replacing Tony Blair as prime minister before 2005.
35 Go to the cinema to see Kill Bill Volume 2, Star Wars Episode III, Indiana Jones 4 and Superman 5. Be repeatedly disappointed.
36 Think about appropriate and engaging ways to commemorate 2004 in its guise as the UN International Year of ... wait for it ... rice.
37 Go off-calendar. 2004 is only 2004 if you accept the establishment's Gregorian paradigm. The laid-back Julian model is a good 22 days behind; on the Chinese calendar you can wait until January 22 to ring in the year Monkey. Don't let datist relatives and employers hold you back.
38 Suddenly lose all interest in the Darkness.
39 Memorise the names of the 10 nations that will join the EU on May 1: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Now with your eyes closed.
40 Turn 40, have a huge party and suddenly become keenly aware of your impending death (39-year-olds only).
41 Turn 50, say a lot of things about how 50 is the new 40, have a huge party and suddenly become keenly aware of your impending death (49-year-olds only).
42 Turn 100, and marry yet another blonde model a fraction of your age (Rod Stewart only).
43 Avoid the paintball world cup in Toulouse (July 4-6), where 120 teams from 30 countries are expected to participate.
44 See the El Greco exhibition at the National Gallery (February 11), the Jasper Johns show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (July 10) and the Bruce Nauman installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern (October 12).
45 Celebrate the official downgrading of cannabis to a class C drug on January 29 in a manner that is unlikely to warrant prosecution.
46 Celebrate National Masturbation Month in May in a manner that is unlikely to warrant prosecution.
47 Enjoy the Six Nations Rugby Union Tournament (February 14-March 27), an experience sure to be enhanced by your new-found grasp of the rules.
48 Participate in National Be Nice To Nettles Week (19-28 May). Do not expect nettles to respond to this overture in any way.
49 Breathe a sigh of relief as the Ireland takes over the EU presidency from Italy today.
50 See His Dark Materials, a two-play adaptation of the novels of Philip Pullman, opening at the National on January 3.
51 Watch Nip/Tuck, the controversial American TV series about plastic surgery starring Joely Richardson, coming to British satellite television this winter.
52 Refuse all honours before you are offered them.
53 Introduce a tabloid version of yourself in the Greater London area. Remain broadsheet elsewhere for the time being.
54 Slowly reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet. You may have lost weight, but you look ill and you smell funny.
55 Read a book written for grown-ups.
56 Keep to yourself the belief that you are Britain's answer to J-Lo.
57 See Newsnight: The Opera. This successor to Jerry Springer: The Opera, from the innovative Battersea Arts Centre, is tipped for the West End next year.
58 Become unattractively engrossed in the trial of Michael Jackson.
59 Get down on your knees and ask God just what the hell He thinks He is playing at.
60 Give up smoking. It's bad for you.
61 Give up cod. There isn't any.
62 Give up playing the guitar. You're annoying everyone.
63 Having read the copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves you found in your stocking, feel free to punctuate with amusing imprecision!
64 Stop telling people that, where you come from, Eats, Shoots and Leaves is the punchline of a much dirtier joke.
65 Donate your 15 minutes of fame to someone who wants it more.
66 Instead of complaining, listen to what spammers are trying to tell you: you need cheaper insurance, prescription drugs, lower heating bills and a bigger penis.
67 Accept that giving 16-year-olds the vote will probably not stop them setting fire to the swings.
68 Do the one thing that separates us from the animals: write thank-you notes.
69 Sue Catherine Zeta-Jones.
70 Change your mobile phone ring tone to a ringing noise.
71 Stop thinking of Libya's Muammar Gadafy as an unstable and dangerous lunatic; he's a principled and courageous statesman now.
72 Accept that buying loads of stuff that you cannot afford will never make you happy, and that it's just something you have to do to keep the economy afloat.
73 Say, "Hey! Whatever happened to Tatu?"
74 Send Saddam Hussein a card on his 67th birthday, on April 28. Don't put a stamp on it just yet.
75 Forswear reality television.
76 Accept that echinacea doesn't do anything except taste bad.
77 Have your property valued frequently, even if you have no intention of selling it, and even if you don't own it. Wasting estate agents' time isn't just amusing; it's a civic duty.
78 Hang up as soon as the phrase "double glazing" is mentioned.
79 Make yourself a T-shirt that says: "No, I do not have a fucking Nectar card."
80 Find Osama bin Laden.
81 Put in a bid for the Daily Telegraph.
82 Stop watching property programmes in the vain hope that the people who buy the houses, do them up very badly and then sell them on will have their greed and stupidity punished by disastrous financial losses. It never happens.
83 Shop at Morrisons instead of Safeway.
84 Go to Code Orange.
85 Go back to Code Yellow.
86 Go briefly to the one that is right below Yellow, but then decide that Yellow is probably a more accurate reflection of your ongoing threat level after all. Stand by.
87 Buy Metallica's soon-to-be-released DVD box set, Live Shit, Binge & Purge, for the title alone.
88 Buy all your Christmas presents for next year in the January sales. Eventually decide to keep them all.
89 Make up the scandals for next year: Williamgate, Honourgate, Top-upgate, Saddamgate, Nigellagate. Award yourself a point for each one you get right.
90 Give up reading newspaper lists of 101 things to do. Even the best ones run out of steam at about 75.
91 Stop watching Saturday morning children's television. If it was really meant for you, you would have heard of the bands they have on.
92 Look fondly back on 2003, and wonder why you can't remember anything that happened before August.
93 Get gay-married. Outrage conservatives and grammarians alike.
94 Clean out the car.
95 Let go of the whole Lord of the Rings thing. It's over.
96 Accept the profound implications of life being discovered on Mars. Or of lots of rubbish spaceships crashing on Mars.
97 Drink the night away under the proposed new licensing laws, but not in a bingey way.
98 Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Idi Amin's downfall, the winter of discontent, and St Lucian independence.
99 Go back to work.
100 Be wise but not too worldly, tolerant but not naive, generous but not gullible, careful but not cautious.
101 Send me a pound.