No New Year’s resolutions in the Olympian diary..
“Who do they think they’re fooling?! Do they really believe that mortals won’t spot what they’re up to? That they can get away with it?” Apollo punctuated each rhetorical question with the thump of a fist that rattled the dishes on the breakfast table and threatened to topple Zeus’ carton of Coco Pops to join the other breakfast debris spattered across the front of his robe.
The Father of the Gods stretched out a liver-spotted hand to protect his favourite cereal from the potential cascade, and glared at his son. “Shouldn’t you be off on your daily rounds? Let the rest of us eat our breakfasts in peace…”
Dionysus almost spilled his Bloody Mary – two tots of vodka to three teaspoons of tomato juice – his latest mix in a lengthy attempt to find the perfect cure for the head-splitting hangovers which most mortal alcoholic drinks seemed to induce. He was less surprised by Zeus’ hypocrisy – all the Olympic family took that for granted – which was at the disruptive core of most meals. It was the venom in the old goat’s glare. A chilling glare that switched to Dionysus as he spluttered towards an automatic defence of his brother.
“Who are ‘they’ and what are ‘they’ supposed to have done?” Hera enquired softly to defuse her husband’s eruptive rage, the anger which had simmered ever since Zeus’ Boxing Day encounter with a young Gibraltarian who had cursed him roundly for the disappointing string of Christmas gifts which hadn’t coincided with those demanded in a letter addressed to Santa at the North Pole.
“I am not a b***dy Father Christmas,” the Olympian had thundered, searching in his satchel for a mini-thunderbolt. Hera had been forced to intervene before anything more than dignity was damaged. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, the boy’s mistake of the god’s identity still rankled…
“Who and what?” Hera repeated.
“The Government that’s who,” Apollo retorted. “They’re selling off 250 residential parking spaces in the Glacis estate area. Just around the corner from us, in fact.”
“But surely that’s a good thing,” said Aphrodite as she fiddled with the glittering false nails which she had found in her Christmas stocking. “After all, there’s a desperate scarcity of parking spaces everywhere on the Rock. Look at the trouble Poseidon is having finding somewhere to leave the Mini-Cooper he won in the Rotary Club’s raffle…”
“It’s not the places it’s the price,” her brother retorted. “They’re asking £29,990. That’s as good at thirty Ks. Who do they think they’re kidding by making it seem cheaper? If they really wanted to help local motorists they’d insist that developers – including their own J and B operations – make provision for parking of at least one car for every new home they build. If Pops ever gets into Parliament, I hope he’ll do something about it.”
“Naah! Everyone selling something juggles prices like that; it’s probably a Gibraltarian tradition going back to the day of Nelson or something,” Hebe joined the conversation. “Shops charge £9.99 for something instead of £10… it just looks cheaper. Check out what’s happening with the post-Christmas sales. Debenhams and Marks & Sparks do exactly the same thing.”
“Compared to what some of the private developers charge, even thirty Ks is not a bad price. Yesterday someone offered me a garage space down Devil’s Tower Road for £55,000.”
Poseidon had been hunting for a permanent parking spot ever since winning the Christmas raffle – a quite unexpected pleasure, as he had not bought the winning ticket, but had spotted it blown among a drift of litter near Europa Point… either dropped by an angler or university student.
“If No6 and their conies really want to do something for local motorists they should offer parking spaces at cost – not try to profit from us” the sea god added. “And just look at the way the Government have let the petrol price ride up and up in the past year. Fifteen months ago it was less than 80p a litre; now it’s at the pumps for £1.07.”
Although Poseidon had acquired his Mini-Cooper only a few days before Christmas, he had been a ‘petrol head’ ever since discovering the joys of a jet-ski soon after the gods had arrived on the Rock.
“Perhaps someone could persuade No6 to make a New Year’s resolution to consider the punters’ purses rather than cater to the Government’s coffers,” quipped Demeter. “After all, today’s the day for resolutions.”
“I can think of some useful resolutions that this family could make,” said Hermes pointedly. He cast a sly glance at Dionysus. “Isn’t this when people resolve to stop or reduce their alcoholic intake? And to cut down on or give up smoking?” This time a pointed glance at Hephaestus and the box of Cuban cigars beside his coffee cup. “They’re the most frequently made resolutions… and the most frequently broken.”
“Actually, neither tops the list,” Artemis told the breakfast table. “I Googled the resolutions on my tablet, and I can tell you which the most frequently taken resolutions are as well as the percentage of people taking them.” And she proceeded to read out: “Exercise more (38%); lose weight (33%); Eat more healthily (32%); Take a more active approach to health (15%); Learn new skill or hobby (15%); and spend more time on personal wellbeing (12%).
Zeus looked up from the Sudoku puzzle on the back of his cereal box. “You won’t catch me doing any of those,” he announced.
And, for once, everyone agreed with him.