_ Every New Year, I come up with the same old plans for re-launching myself upon the world as a better, purer me. At least half of them involve God (“go to church more”, “pray more often, and not just for me” etc) and the rest hygiene. How many times have I promised to give up drink and take up weights? More times than my alcohol addled brain can remember (seriously, it’s becoming harder and harder to remember things like this).

This year, I’m doing something different. Rather than going for modesty, I’m embracing the spirit of the New Greed and re-launching myself as someone bolder, braver and little more masculine. Here are my goals for 2012.

1. Pick a new name. I hate Timothy. It’s the name of a well meaning but slightly simple posh boy – the kind of reliable spruce who wears his school’s rugby top well into his forties. So I’m thinking of dropping “Timothy” (or “Timbo” as my critics prefer) for something more butch. I like “Buck”. Buck Stanley. Now, that’s a name you can rely on in a tricky situation. Got a cat stuck up a tree? Call Buck. Need to change a tire on the side of the freeway? Call Buck. Call Buck for instant satisfaction and a chin you could eat a steak off.

2. Grow a beard. There’s no escaping it: I’m getting old. And as I get old I’m developing those horrible English jowls that cause the face to lose all form. I’m in danger of waking up one day to find I look like Kim Jong-un. The only solution is to hide my sins beneath a beard. Ladies love ‘em and the best men wear ‘em – from Greek philosophers to salty sea dogs. Of course, you have to be careful. Overdo the tash and you can end up looking like one of the Village People.

3. Buy a gun. Nothing says “I’m a man” like having the power to kill another man (without actually having to go near him). Not many people realize that a tourist to the US is legally allowed to purchase a firearm, so I’ll be doing that on my next trip. I won’t wear it in the street because I’m liable to shoot the first suspicious looking type that asks for my train ticket. But I can wander around the house with it: point it at mirrors, take a shower with it etc.

4. Become more Right-wing. Nature is taking care of this one already, but I do sense the need to notch it up a bit. Ideally I’d like to get a column in a newspaper with a title like “The Voice of Reason” or “Common Sense for Common People”. Then I can pour forth on the evils of “femi-Nazis”, atheists, communists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and ticket collectors. Of course, the only point of having a column like that is so that you can occasionally voice a Left-wing opinion that takes everyone by surprise. “It’s Time to Nationalize the Banks”, or “End Cruelty to Goldfish NOW!”

5. Track down the Mokele-mbembe. For some reason, the West has rediscovered this mythical beast of the Congo. It’s probably because everyone’s grown sick of looking for the Loch Ness Monster. Well, nothing says butch more than getting a big knife, throwing on a pith helmet, and going in search of a big, scary monster. If I find it, I shall shoot it and stuff it. Cruel perhaps, but a better fate than obscurity.

O heck, none of these promises shall last. I shall be back to being a bow-tie wearing, soft-jawed liberal by February. But in the great American spirit of reinvention - and with a toast to whoever and whatever you want to be - I wish you all a Happy New Year!