If you have woken up this morning and feel a little bit jaded and worse for wear, do not fear, I bring good news! Because today is the day that the days start becoming longer and everything finally starts to get better. I bet you can practically feel it already.
Yesterday was the shortest and darkest day of the year in Britain, and also the day that all the shops held a "Panic Saturday" of pre-Christmas sales. If you found yourself at the shops yesterday, amid the kind of consumers whose theory of Christmas shopping is "wait till you see the whites of their eyes", bad luck. And relax: the worst is over now.
Unless, of course, you're one of those people whose theory of Christmas shopping is "wait till Christmas Eve and then panic buy everything in a petrol station", in which case bad luck your nearest and dearest. Or unless you're one of those people who keeps being polled in surveys which claim to show that we all hate our friends and families this Christmas. The latest one reveals that one in seven women would rather spend the festive season with their pets than their "loved ones", and that 12:56pm is the most stressful point of Christmas Day. Ladies, whoever you are, if you seriously hate cooking Christmas dinner that much then let someone else do it, or order a curry. And who are these "loved ones" that we all supposedly hate so much?
Anyway, from today on everything starts getting better, unless your other half has listened to the adverts and the bestseller charts and has bought you some anti-wrinkle cream and a diet book for Christmas, or that new bra that talks to you and tells you when you're about to overeat and to do some deep breathing exercises instead. (May the sweet baby Jesus preserve us.) These are the kind of "loved ones" we could all do without, but the good news is that there's still time for them to see reason and take those so-called gifts back to the shop. They could swap them for a bottle of gin, some loose-fitting trousers and a takeaway pizza, maybe. Point them in the direction of Kathleen Turner, who announced last week, "I don't look like I did 30 years ago. Get over it!"
Anyway, definitely once Christmas is over everything will start getting better, provided you can ignore the constant barrage in January of everyone telling you to get thinner and sort your life out. No animal in the known universe chooses the dark, cold winter months to sort its life out, not even hares or bears, who pop out of hibernation (we are led to believe) only to eat some Quality Street in their pyjamas. There's a reason for this: January is miserable enough without a cabbage soup diet. (Come to think of it, being on a cabbage soup diet could be the reason why your loved ones hate you.)
So, all in all, everything is getting better now that the winter solstice is over, it's obvious. Unless, that is, you're in Australia. But we don't feel sorry for you; you're warm.