Ian McMillan: My theme for the new year: Not a sausage

Phew! Made it through the first week of the New Year with my resolution intact. Wobbly, creaking, flimsy but intact. This year, my resolution was simple because in the past I’ve been caught out by epic or unreachable ones. As I’ve matured, I’ve realised there’s no point resolving to achieve World Peace or learn Mandarin Chinese in a single year. Let’s face it, these are long term goals that may require bigger and more agile bonces than mine.

The giving up of sausages, on the other hand, is infinitely do-able. Hard, but possible. Let me explain: I like a sausage. Oooh, I do like a sausage. I like the sound of them as they sizzle in the pan, I like the look of them on the plate as they wait for you to apply the brown sauce, I like the smell of them as you raise them to your lips and I like the feel of them as your mouth closes round them. Unless you’ve got an ulcer, of course, but then it’s your fault for slathering so much brown sauce on. And most of all I like the taste; the burst of flavour as your teeth pierce the skin, the infinite alchemy of meat and herbs and bits of tomato or leek and those mysterious hard bits...

Sorry, I’ll have to stop writing this love letter to the sausage; it’ll make me want one and I’m trying really hard to stick to my resolution. So, as I said, I’m a fan of the sausage but in the end they’re not that good for you. As the old gag goes, after the first 37 you start to get a bit bilious. So my resolution is to make 2012 a sausage-free year, then in 2013 I can return to them with the glee of a traveller lost in a desert who comes across an oasis. An oasis in a frying pan next to an extra-large bottle of brown sauce.

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Stop it. Stop thinking about sausages. Try some aversion therapy: every time you think about sausages, stab yourself in the back of the hand with a fork. No, on second thoughts don’t do that. It hurts. And you might need the fork for a sausage. Stop it!

The trouble is that once you decide to give something up, you can’t stop seeing them everywhere, you can’t escape the whiff and the hiss of temptation. On the first day of the new year I went for a walk and it seemed that every house I walked past was indulging in a post-revel breakfast, a Full English that was heavy on the sausage. There was a symphony of sizzling and a sausagey assault on my nostrils that soon sent me back to the house. I switched the telly on: an advert for sausages, gleaming and gorgeous. I switched the telly off. Not straight away, of course. Not till the advert had finished.

I put the kettle on. I said to my wife: “Would you like a cup of sausage?” and she said: “That resolution’s turning you daft.” I don’t know what she was on about. I sat and read the Yorkshire Post, and I found myself doodling in the margins. And you can guess what I was doodling, can’t you? That’s right: zebras. No, I’m joking: sausages.

Only fifty-one weeks to go. I’ve made it this far, I can’t stop now. Once you’re in the foothills of Everest, you may as well carry on to the summit. And reward yourself with a sausage.

Anybody got a Mandarin Chinese phrasebook?