Bah, humbug : METRO

Once upon a time, Jaci Stephen spent Boxing Day being wined at the Ritz . This year she was on her own, nursing a Prozac

Boxing Day is the day you reach for the Prozac. The novelty of having spent Christmas in London sans famille has worn off, you've eaten your second Marks & Spencer chicken leg, and Grant, Phil, Sharon, Raquel, Curly et al have done everything the papers promised they would do in Albert Square and Coronation Street.

You write your New Year resolutions: that takes all of 43 seconds. You wonder whether to go to Liberty's sale, but then remember that even at half price, you can't afford anything the great store has to offer. There's always the fair in Leicester Square,but a spinning waltzer may not be the best way to cure a hangover.

London and Boxing Day make sad playmates. Suddenly, the lights and decorations that thrilled you in the build-up to Christmas look unwanted and unloved. The few people in the streets throb with overindulgence and bring traffic to a halt. Their bags, emblazoned with the word SALE, troop wearily through the rain, their contents promising an extra crumb of post-festivity excitement. Either side of Oxford Street, the atmosphere is that of a euthanasia theme park.

The last Boxing Day I spent alone was the lowest point of the Christmas Day in Hades that preceded it. A man whose name and occupation I will not mention (a journalist called William) pushed me into so deep a depression I felt unable to see anyone. His idea of wishing me a happy Christmas was to criticise how I kept my place in a book (heaven forbid, I lay the book face down - "I once finished with a girl for doing that," he warned), where I wore my watch on my wrist (too high), how I talke d to strangers (too familiar), what I ate in restaurants (vegetables), the flowers I'd sent him (wilted), my hair (too short), my weight (too fat), my clothes (disappointing), my flat (strange smell), my writing (too rude), my friends (too quiet).

He took me to Alastair Little's restaurant on Christmas Eve. My tears plopped into the olive oil. He ordered two glasses of champagne. "Well, happy Christmas," he said, raising his glass.

On Boxing Day, he took me to the Ritz for a bottle of champagne. This time, it was only my weight, my clothes and my presents that caused him offence. My tears plopped into the ice bucket. He raised his glass. "Well, happy New Year," he said. Still, at least he had bought me a handbag from which I was able to pull a credit card, when it transpired I was expected to pay after all.

If you're not in the throes of a relationship trauma, Boxing Day is traditionally the day when distant members of one's family turn up with small children, all of whom have decided to bring their noisiest present with them.

One particularly villainous piece of design, for example, might be the Voice Changer: a loudspeaker that you talk into to produce the voice of an alien, a robot or a ghost. The only difference between these "voices" is the pitch of the sound - bloody awful in all three cases. I mention it only because I bought this once for my cousin's three-year-old, who arrived for the usual family get-together on the 26th. And I mention it with glee because I wasn't in the house when he unwrapped both it and the two extra batteries I included in the package.

The alternatives to Boxing Day family get-togethers, however, are not particularly appealing, either. If you don't hang around for the cold meats, fry-ups, hyperactive children and irritable adults ("Look, if you play that damned Voice Changer once more,I'll ram it down your throat!"), your most viable option is loneliness and self-absorption. All your friends are entertaining their own dreadful families, the few that aren't have gone skiing, and the only people in town are tourists whose idea of a good night out is a bottle of house red at the Angus Steak House (they're the ones with the green-and-red decor on street corners, full of Northerners saying, "I like a nice steak").

Decent restaurants on Boxing Day are to be avoided because they are filled with people who can't get a table the rest of the year; men in new, statement-making ties, and women in brown sweatshirts studded with gold sequins.

Pubs are another no-go area because they're filled with exactly the same people who are in there every day of the year. For them, Christmas Eve to Boxing Day is one long lager bath. They string tinsel around their necks and laugh about how they were too drunk for sex on Christmas Day, even though most of them will probably have to wait another year before trying again.

It's all very depressing and anti-climactic after the big Christmas build-up, but Boxing Day does mark a significant turning point. If you spend it alone, it's the first day you have to reflect on the year that's gone before and the one that's coming up;the melancholic half-filled streets and suddenly meaningless lights in a big city invite that kind of self-analysis.

Yet deep down, I know that 1995 will be no different from 1994: I will ring my accountant to ask why, if I earned so much money during the year, I never saw any of it. "Because you spend four times as much as you earn," he will patiently explain, yet again; I will become involved with at least three men who will make me cry, and I'll swear each time that it's the very last time I'll be a Woman Who Loves Too Much; and I will ring my agent to tell him that this year, my next novel really will be written ( actually, I've only written one, but "next" sounds as if I have an oeuvre, "second" implies laziness). Reflection is therefore a pointless and misery-inducing option that only makes you aware of how quickly the years are passing.

I could take the easy way out this year and just watch television. There's the Christmas You've Been Framed on ITV, but then loneliness and Jeremy Beadle might be just enough to push me over the edge; BBC 2 is showing the 28th Annual Country Music Awards, which will bring hundreds of suicidal singers together to celebrate the songs that pushed up the annual suicide rate in Tennessee in 1994. Very cheering.

This year was the first year I'd spent Boxing Day alone since my disastrous experience at the Ritz, and London was filled with the usual depressing, post-Christmas blues.

The options were again limited, but I cut my losses and ventured out after all. If you passed an Angus Steak House yesterday and looked in the corner, you'd have seen me. I was the one with the steak and house red. And the bottle of Prozac.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss