Here's an alternative view of Lent: Jesus was getting His head together. In that spirit, we should treat this time of the year as a moment to step outside our daily routines, and take a clear-eyed look at the way we behave the rest of the time. It is a moment to be uncompromisingly honest, and act accordingly until Easter.
To take an example close to home, it often seems that a spurious sense of authority can enter a column when a writer quotes people's precise words. How much truer it would be – in a deeper, non-factual sense – if what was written was based not on what was actually said, but on what should or might have been said. My Lent resolution, then, is to be less enslaved to the truth. What of some of our leading public figures:
Rupert Murdoch: I've spent far too long over the past few months apologising to a load of time-wasting bludgers in London. Pies in the face, journos shouting questions at me, closing and opening Sunday newspapers like there's no tomorrow, doing the old sorry tango whenever some Pom whines. Here's my resolution: Stay away from bloody England.
Kate Middleton: I'm giving up smiling, and waving, and looking pretty, and saying nothing when I feel like saying a lot. I'm just going to slob out, catch up on my reading, eat inappropriately at all the wrong times and watch a lot of telly. The country can have its pet doll back after Easter.
Carlos Tevez: Over the coming 40 days, I shall be putting myself first for a change. I've sacrificed a lot for my team, Manchester City (or was it United? I lose track!). I've missed my family, journalists are disrespectful, I have to live in a wet, grey city which smells of fish and chips. Some people say that, because I'm paid £250,000 a week, I should be prepared to suffer but Lent reminds us of this important truth: money isn't everything.
Uggie: The dog you saw doing cute little stunts in that film The Artist is not the real Uggie. That was what we actors call "acting". Here's the way the real Uggie likes to relax: stealing food off plates; farting under the dining-room table; rolling in the remains of a dead rabbit; lifting his leg on the sofa. You want Uggie to do a trick? Here's my Lent message: talk to the tail, the face ain't listening.
Stephen Hester: No more grovelling on the Today programme for a bloody start. I'm a banker not a civil servant. The whole mea culpa palaver isn't in my DNA. Compared with my muckers in the financial sector, I'm virtually on starvation rations, yet the mere mention of a little annual sweetener has everyone going bonkers. Let's hear it for the bankers this Lent. We're doing a tough job, and we never complain about it.