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Brendan O'Connor: 'Being a man just ain't what it used to be'


'If you lived in America, your wife would have a martini waiting for you'

'If you lived in America, your wife would have a martini waiting for you'

'If you lived in America, your wife would have a martini waiting for you'

The boss has asked that today I would provide an update on how my New Year's resolutions are going. Which shows you what she knows about being a middle-aged man in modern Ireland.

Time was when it was easy being a man. Every day, you went to a secure job where you put down the day. When you went home in the evening, no one really contacted you again about work until the next day. You called into the pub on the way home for a sharpener, and if you lived in America, your wife would have a martini ready for you when you got home.

A martini, for those of you who have never been presented with one on the threshold, is basically a glass of straight alcohol. Wives in those days actually encouraged their husbands to hit the hard liquor at tea time. What a time to be alive. You were then presented with a dinner, and then you repaired to read your paper or watch TV. Your kids did not annoy you because you had had a hard day at work. This was before women worked, so men could pretend that work was really important and hard and that you'd be exhausted after a day of it.

At the weekend, you maybe went to the race track or played golf. No women or children were allowed in these places because they might annoy the men. And that was life. You were not expected to make any resolution to improve yourself, either at New Year, or any other time. What was to improve? You were a man!

Nowadays, every day is like New Year's. Men are expected to improve themselves not only once a year for about a week until the resolutions wear off, but all the time. There is a campaign to give up the booze nearly every month of the year, and if you're not doing that, you are expected to be growing a moustache to raise awareness or be out marching for women's rights.

Self-improvement for men is no longer for just after Christmas. Now we are expected to be in a state of constant evolution. I am working so hard on self-improvement I could barely think of any new resolution to make for the new year. Lose weight? That's a constant. Drink less? An ongoing process for all of us these days what with the non-stop finger wagging. Get more exercise? Again, that's a given. We even have trackers attached to us all now to make sure we are all constantly improving our times, our levels, our heart rates, that we are climbing the stairs more. And we put these shackles on ourselves voluntarily! We actually buy our own chains, lock ourselves up, and throw away the keys. Men these days gather less and less in the pub and instead gather at roadsides to cycle up hills at the weekend. The leisurely pace of a golf game is not enough any more. And of course with the cycling, there is a built-in guarantee that no drink is taken. It's all tea and scones. It's as if men are literally turning into old ladies. As far as I can ascertain they even seem to wear thick tights for many of these activities. It's not even enough these days for a man to do one thing, like running, or cycling, or swimming. You have to do all three. Together. Wearing a class of a onesie and tights.

You'd say that the women had done some number on us, only for the fact that somehow we did this to ourselves.

So don't ask me how I'm getting on with the resolutions. I'm putting in the work all year round, baby. I'm not out doing the triathlons, but I am like a hamster on a wheel trying to be a better person, mind, body and spirit. I'm a few steps off taking up religion at this stage.

But of course, despite myself, I did try to improve a few habits for 2019. I'm trying to drink more water and to finish books rather than abandoning them once I feel I have the gist of them. Too early to say how it's going. But if you see me going to the jacks a lot with a copy of War and Peace under my arm, you'll know I'm putting in the work.

Sunday Indo Living