Luke Blackall: Better a moderate year than a dry January

The cold, short days of the new year call for home comforts and cosiness

There's a standard exchange that occurs at the few parties that actually take place this month. "Glass of champagne?" a party-goer will be asked. "No, thank you, I'm not drinking," comes the reply. The non-drinker then feels compelled to tell whoever is nearest, proudly and loudly, they are "having a dry January."

Almost everywhere you turn, you encounter them. Perhaps they hope that if they tell enough people, their heroic restraint will be recognised in the Queen's Birthday honours.

I've long been sceptical of steering clear of the bottle for the first month of the year. In fact, I have a theory is that it could actually do more harm than good. After the almost invariable excess of Christmas and New Year, the last thing the body needs (or so my theory goes) is a shock to the system by giving up what has been sustaining it for so long. The cold, short days of the new year call for home comforts and cosiness. Which means gentle continuation, not radical abstention.

Remember, bears don't drag themselves out of hibernation just because the year's started, and nor should we. Sure, my suggestion might be a touch ill-thought-through, and no, it has probably no basis in science, but that makes it just as valid as the equally nonsensical theories of "detox" which are thrown our way at this time of year.

Like an alcoholic's exhortations that they can "give up for a week", expecting us to be impressed, the cold-turkey approach is no good if you know that you'll be getting stuck into the juicy stuff a short while into the future.

The British Liver Trust has recently criticised the concept of a month off, echoing the House of Common's science and technology committee's suggestion this month that we avoid alcohol two out of every seven days. This does not mean, however, that you can accrue all those booze-free days at the beginning of the year, just so that you can satisfy your bacchanalian urges for the remaining 11 months.

Besides, we already have a time to give things up, which lasts longer than a month and has served us well for centuries. It's called Lent. Whether you are religious or not, spring is a good moment for renewal.

But if I try to share my theory at parties, it's greeted with scepticism. You see, for many of these post-Christmas abstainers, a moderate year would be far harder than a completely dry January.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot