Nostradamus back in Town

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By Anthony Deyal

Nostradamus, the famous French doctor and author of a book of prophecies published in 1555, supposedly predicted the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the subsequent Second World War.

Now, it is claimed that some of his predictions relate to this New Year, 2021. Some astrologists say that Nostradamus foresaw a “Zombie Apocalypse” caused by a biological weapon, created by a Russian scientist, which produces a virus that turns humans into zombies and will wipe out the human race once and for all. There is no mention of the present Russian leader but it is said that you get out of life what you Putin.

If the Zombies don’t kill us in 2021, an epidemic of biblical proportions will. Nostradamus predicted that the first signs of the end of the world will be famine, earthquakes and epidemics. In other words, he saw the coronavirus coming. Astrologists explain that in 2020, Saturn in Capricorn united its forces with Pluto which is definitely not the lovable pet of Disney’s Mickey Mouse but the planet of doom and destruction. This relationship, which will last for 248 years, will be the death of us. If the solar storms are not enough, Nostradamus warns that “In the Danube and of the Rhine will come to drink/ The great Camel”.

This is interpreted as the Muslims taking over the world or whatever is left of it after a comet hits us, and is followed by a devastating earthquake which destroys California. The only good news he is said to have prophesied for the US is that American soldiers will have brain-chip implants. Even though the US Department of Defence initiated this project in 2018, the president was unfortunately left out, maybe because he evaded the military draft five times.

Fortunately for me, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. I found that they come in one year and out the next. It is not true, as one of my friends claim, that I don’t have any because my wife hasn’t told me as yet what my New Year’s resolutions are.

I could have promised my children that I would not tell or make any bad jokes for the rest of the year but I missed that opportunity about a week ago. Every New Year’s Day, after being allowed to stay up after midnight, or waking up to the sound of guns fired by our neighbours to celebrate the birth of the New Year, when I headed into the kitchen my father would inevitably quip, ‘Where were you all this time? I haven’t seen you since last year.” In thinking about those days when the entire family gathered in the veranda to take in the New Year’s “breeze”, wish one another a “Happy New Year” I yearn for their return.

We used to call out loudly to the neighbours next door and across the street. “Neighb,” we said, using the short form of “neighbour”, “Happy New Year to you and the family.” In those days, I used to beg my parents to let me stay up late. Now, whether I like it or not, I have to.

There are a lot of jokes and stories about New Year resolutions. One comic said, “My New Year’s resolution was to lose 30 pounds by the end of summer.” Then he added, “I’ve only got 40 pounds left.” In such a predicament I would advise him to head for England and bet on the dog races. You’re sure to lose every pound you have. A New Yorker told Governor Andrew Cuomo on New Year’s Eve, “This year, with the Democrats in power and with Biden as president, I hope we will all be able to achieve the goals of our New Year’s resolutions.” He paused and then continued, “But I have a feeling we’re going to drop the ball.” One comedian added, “My New Year’s resolution for 2021 took me a while to focus and after a week has passed, I think I’ve got it. I must get glass this year.”

I am always optimistic about the future and, as the saying goes, if I get a bag of horse manure for Christmas I will delve deeply into it looking for a horse. If I don’t find it, I will make use of it by passing it to Indranie for her plants. Pessimists have a different problem.

One resolved that in the New Year he will definitely try to be an optimist like me. He then added, “But I know for a fact that won’t happen. Something will go wrong and I’ll fail. I’m sure of that.” Late-Night TV host, Jay Leno observed, “Women get a little more excited about New Year’s Eve than men do. It’s like an excuse: you drink too much, you make a lot of promises you’re not going to keep; the next morning as soon as you wake up you start breaking them. For men, we just call that a date.”

Generally, though, the most popular resolutions are to lose weight, get fit, eat right, stop smoking and manage money better, even saving some. I tried one of those and never attempted another. Twenty years ago, my wife convinced me to follow her in eating a healthier diet. I tried but all the evidence proves that while you won’t actually live longer, it would seem so. In fact, I have come to the time in my life when the resolution I should make is that I must try to remember why I’ve walked into a room. It’s that bad, even worse than remembering names.

Since Indranie always complains about my not buying or forgetting to get stuff from the supermarket despite the list she sends me on WhatsApp, I figure that he idea for an appropriate resolution for me to try this year is to make a Velcro wall but she doubts that I will stick to it.

Despite my poking fun at the New Year and choosing the worst possible predictions, I am truly a romantic and visionary. I am convinced that we live in the best possible world and time. Even if we don’t, we have the capacity and power to make it so. All we need to do is believe in ourselves, try our best and never give up. I am not alone in this. Poet and pacifist, Edith Lovejoy Pierce, wrote, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” T.S. Eliot believed, “Every moment is a fresh beginning.”

I am convinced that what the new year brings to us will depend largely on what we bring to the new year. While Frank Sinatra made it clear that “The best is yet to come” we should always take everything with more than a pinch of salty humour. Oscar Wilde set the tone when he noted, “Good resolutions are simply cheques that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” In my case, I tell people that many years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to never make new year’s resolutions. Since then, it is the only resolution I’ve ever kept.

*Tony Deyal was last seen saying Nostradamus had predicted the world would end on July 4, 1999. The next day The Guardian wrote, “If we are wrong, we shall print a prompt apology in Corrections and Clarifications. (Should the end of the world have occurred by this morning, please read that as “would have printed”.)

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