Scotland’s great and good share their New Year’s resolutions

From sorting out supersonic snowballs in hell to encouraging pandas to copulate, the 2012 to-do list of our prime movers and shakers is full of personal challenges

Fred MacAulay, comedian

“Milestones mean a lot to me; when I was 30, I made a massive career change from accountancy to comedy and in 2012 I’ll be 55. Over the last few years it’s been clear that the retirement horizon is shifting back so I’ve been taking stock. I like to be bold and tackle new things – and be honest, I’d like to have a try at acting. The only thing I’m worried about is learning lines but I did a comedy play at the Fringe about a million years ago, and I’d love to have another go. Maybe a villain - why not? Back at home, I’ve resolved to finish clearing out our loft. It requires some brutal decision-making so we got a professional declutterer to start the job. We had four sessions and filled most of the west coast’s charity shops with books, sports equipment, clothes and the kids’ old toys. Unlike me, she was very decisive: she’d look at something and say, ‘To go?’ And if I hesitated for even a second, it was gone! It probably helped that she was from Germany. It was a magnificent start but it’s starting to build up again ...”

AL Kennedy, author

“I try not to make resolutions. They can turn joys into duties and I tend to get chained into patterns of behaviour, anyway. I work to the exclusion of all else, so resolving to write every day is tempting … then again, I probably will anyway, pretty much, and I’d rather feel it was happening by accident. Possibly I should just pause to remind myself that I’m a self-employed person with an abusive employer. I would like to enjoy things more, relax more, take time to be with the people I love more. And then I’ll have more energy to survive in the toxic environment bankers and politicians have provided for us and to consider ways to change it. I’d enjoy that.”

Keith Brown, transport minister

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“I think the key is to make lots of small changes. There’s no point in me pledging to go to the gym every night because I know it won’t happen – I’m often working late and when I do get in, it’s too tempting to just relax with my family instead of adding something else to the to-do list. I am, however, planning to take part in the Alloa Half Marathon in March so I’ll be getting out and training for that when I can. The race is going to be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012 and I also took part in the very first one.

“We live in a beautiful country with some of the most stunning scenery in the world and I plan to see more of it this year. Sitting back on the train or ferry is a fantastic way to take in Scotland’s best views and I would urge people to get out and about and see what’s available right on their doorstep.”

Mark Cousins, author and filmmaker

“I was in an edit suite for most of 2011, so I want to get out a lot and go to all the new cafés in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I want to dance every day if possible and, with Tilda Swinton, start to launch the 81/2 Foundation ( abroad. And the hem of my red kilt has been Sellotaped-up for about a year, so I’d like to sew it. And read Mrs Dalloway. And be a good person, if modern life permits. And go to Orkney, of course.”

Stuart MacBride, award-winning crime writer

“This New Year I’ll be mostly resolving to take up a hobby and not spend all day, every day glued to the computer writing. Have some time off. Relax. Read a lot more books. Take piano lessons. And spend a lot more time snoozing on the couch with my cat, Grendel.

“Not very exciting, I know. But it’s better than staying the pasty-faced keyboard-potato stress monkey I am at the moment.”

Jolomo, the artist John Lowrie Morrison, OBE

“I don’t often make New Year’s resolutions as I am not very good at keeping them, like most folk. For 2012 though I plan two resolutions. The first is to paint more landscapes with figures in them. When I was at Glasgow School of Art in the late 1960s early 1970s I was actually more a figurative painter, painting huge works that were quite angst-ridden. However, I have always wanted to do some landscape work that included figures, something like the great McTaggart’s work done in Kintyre.

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“My other resolution is hopefully to get school pupils involved in the Jolomo Foundation’s Landscape Painting Awards because as a former educator this is really what I wanted the awards to be about anyway ... I really need to push this idea on now. We will see if I keep my 2012 resolutions.”

Professor John Brown, 10th Astronomer Royal for Scotland

“I am resolved that 2012 will see me becoming a better astrophysicist by ever-more zealous work at the forefronts of research while improving my basic physics by at last unwrapping and reading my long-held copies of The Feynman Lectures. Top of my research list is more new work on the death throes of huge supersonic snowballs in Hell – that is, comets falling into the sun.

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“In parallel I will continue to convey the fun and excitement of astronomy to all and sundry via my science with magic talk, the magic involved becoming ever better through my more regular attendance at the Scottish Conjurers Association.

“As to new starts, my biggest thrust there will be getting more seriously stuck into learning the saxophone. I have always loved music and been incapable of sitting still amidst it but I am a totally ignorant about all aspects of the theory and reading of music. And, lastly, I will heed those who tell me to ‘chill’ more – should be easy in January and February, at least if the last two winters are any indication.”

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party

“Having been to a couple of European conferences recently, I’ve been more aware than ever of my utter failure in previous attempts to learn a foreign language. I was barely settled on the train home from The Hague earlier this month before I made a decision to give it one more go. This time I’m thinking that I might try German, though I have friends trying to persuade me to try something a little less mainstream like Swedish or Czech.”

Jimmy Buchan, prawn boat skipper, author and star of BBC’s Trawlermen series

“I make resolutions every year and some years they have been broken by five past midnight while other years I have managed to stick to it. My biggest achievement was stopping smoking in the Millennium year. I haven’t had ciggie since. And my resolution for 2012 is to lose weight. I would love to lose a couple of stones, just to get healthier. The statistics show that we are not a really healthy nation. I suffer from Type 2 diabetes and it’s in my best interests to lose a bit of weight.

“My problem is that on the boat when I’m in the wheelhouse, I practically stand on top of the galley cooker and when the ham and eggs are on the frying pan I’m standing only three feet above it. So it’s going to be hard.”

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Iain Valentine, director of research and conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

“I and my staff, working with our Chinese friends and colleagues, resolve to do everything we can (within reason), to ensure that Tian Tian and Yang Guang breed next year, meaning that the people of the UK can potentially see Britain’s very first baby panda ...”

Sir Clive Fairweather, former SAS deputy commander

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“My New Year resolutions – which usually fall apart before February are – drink less of the red aggravator, lust less, exercise more and bury the television remote. Also – reread the full SNP manifesto. As my former wife was fownd of saying, ‘When it comes to the pleasures of the flesh this former SAS man has the willpower of a flip-flop!’”

Lorraine Kelly, OBE, TV presenter and ambassador for the Alliance Trust Cateran Yomp

“2012 is all about trying out new things for me - I’d love to learn a new skill like horseriding or fencing, something really adventurous! I’m also an ambassador for the Alliance Trust Cateran Yomp, so I’ll need to get training like a soldier for that! As I spend half of the week in London and the weekends in my hometown, Dundee, I’m going to make it another resolution to see more of the people I love, who always make me laugh!”

Chris Cusiter, scrum-half, British & Irish Lions, Scotland and Glasgow Warriors

“Enjoy life and not stress about the small stuff. I’ll never complain about doing contact sessions in the sideways rain in Glasgow, or having to lift bigger and heavier weights every week, but I’ll enjoy the opportunities that come my way and appreciate them.”

Donald J Trump, business magnate

“My resolution is to make this the best year ever — and it will be! Trump International Golf Links opens in July, and that is a tremendous reason for celebration in itself. I’m looking forward to seeing the greatest links course in the world making its debut!”

Alexander McCall Smith, author

“1. To try to remember what last year’s resolutions were.

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2. To limit uncharitable thoughts to perhaps two or three a week.

3. To remember that other people are mostly trying to do their best, at least some of the time.

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4. To do at least one good deed a day (except on Sundays and public holidays).”

Sarah Heaney, presenter with Daybreak

“Having returned to broadcasting after having had two children, I feel that I’m entering a new phase in my career and my life, and I’m enjoying this much more the second time around as I’m very lucky to do this job. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m not trying to please people in the way that I perhaps did at the start of my career, so I think as far as a New Year’s resolution for my career goes, it’s to relax and enjoy what I do as much as I can and not be too worried about what other people think.

“In my personal life, I have two young sons who are incredibly active and sporty and I try to do as much as I can with them, so I have promised myself that I will help Wills with his tackling and help Eddie work on his golf swing.”

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury

“1. To bang the drum for the Highlands. The Highlands shouldn’t be peripheral to the future of Scotland or the UK just because of their geographic location – especially with the economic potential of renewable energy. It is a huge responsibility to be the first Highland MP at the heart of the UK Government in a generation.

“The Scottish Government needs to remember there’s life outside Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is liable to forget – as, for instance, when it proposed scrapping direct sleeper services for Fort William, Inverness and Aberdeen ‘in the interests of stimulating a debate’. The Government in Edinburgh has just been given extra money to invest in infrastructure now: £433 million more, with an extra £50 million specifically to save the sleeper. We have to make sure that investment is turned into action to make a difference for our economy.

“2. To get into the hills more often. Like many Scots, I get a lot of pleasure – and a healthy sense of perspective – from walking in our hills. I’m fortunate to represent some of the most spectacular outdoor areas in the country, but – especially in the shorter days of the winter – chances to get into the hills can be few and far between. I am sure I will not be alone in resolving to get a bit more exercise, but feeling a little bit tempted to postpone the effort until the spring.”

Willie Rennie, MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader

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“As the Olympics are coming to London this year, I plan to increase my running training regime in a desperate attempt to be picked for the British team. You never know, if they make coal-carrying an Olympic sport I may even have a chance of being selected.”

Iain McMillan, director, CBI Scotland

“Having lost two-and-a-half stone in weight over the past two years, my first resolution is to lose another 21lbs in 2012. My second resolution is to get a much better grip of my diary. Every Monday morning I look at my diary for the week ahead and despair that it is so full.”

Sergio Casci, screenwriter

“Next year I resolve NOT to:

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1. Claim I’ve piled on weight because ‘muscle is heavier than fat’.

2. Classify afternoons spent watching Quantum Leap as “industry research”.

3. Believe snide comments I leave on the Daily Mail website (under a made-up name) qualify me as a Hero of the Revolution.

4. Blame my overdraft on the US subprime mortgage crisis.

5. Justify using credit cards to pay said overdraft as ‘quantitative easing’.

6. Exaggerate my accent when I speak to the bank’s automated voice service so it won’t understand me.

7. Follow-up by impersonating Joanna Lumley, so that it does.

8. Think above behaviour is a profound political statement.

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9. Leave my dishes to soak overnight because ‘it makes them easier to wash’.

10. Wait until I hear my wife doing dishes before getting up in the morning.”