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New Year resolutions through the years

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As part of the Today programme's Mass Observation guest edit, the Today programme's Nicola Stanbridge looks at how people have seen out one year and welcomed in the next over the generations, and why this time of year spurs people on to make changes in their lives.

Mass Observation Archive, based at the University of Sussex, was founded in 1937, exactly 75 years ago, as an "anthropology of ourselves".

A team of observers and writers were recruited to chart everyday life in Britain.

"I never make new year resolutions, I think I have unusually high standards of behaviour and I try to live up to the best I am capable of all the time," one woman wrote.


Some listeners got in touch to share their memories of the 1963 freeze. Here are some of their stories:

"The Big Freeze - my memory is of Granny coming up from Devon for Christmas and staying till Easter!" Sarah Campbell, London

"One of my abiding memories is of finding my goldfish frozen in a solid block of ice in its goldfish bowl!" Jean Hobbs from Loughton.

"I built an igloo during the 1963 freeze, made ice bricks, and sat in it regularly for weeks." Eleanor Schooling, Hackney, London

"I was seven and I recall sometime around Christmas, we built a snowman in the back garden. Each member of our family made a bet as to when it would melt. My father said, 'March!', which we thought was ridiculous but of course he was right." David Blezard, Barby,

"I received my birthday present early - a sledge - because my Mother thought the snow would only last a few days. The endless days, weeks, months of sledging that followed were heaven for a nine-year-old boy and his friends." Andrew Langley, Abingdon

"I was 18 in the winter of 1963 and had just left home to live in a bedsitter in Bristol, which experienced some of the worst of the weather. At one stage I was unable to leave my room when the door wouldn't open because it had frozen with the cold. As I was earning very little and didn't know how to cook, I remember my diet consisting mainly of doughnuts for lunch and eggs and beans for supper. It all seemed like a great adventure at the time." Lyn Longridge, Cirencester

"My wife and I got married in January 1963 in London. We had our reception in a local church hall which was the only place in the area with running water, as everywhere had frozen pipes, and we had a constant stream of people going in and out filling buckets all the time we were eating our meal. Our guests sat with their coats on all the time." Peter and Pat Hillman, Ely, Cambridgeshire

"I was working in Orkney where the weather was fine and almost balmy. The hotel was showing a program called The Big Freeze, and I thought it was fiction until it got going." Jessica Aidley, Shoreham-by-Sea.


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