Of all the months in all the year, January is ever the wooden spoon winner; the marzipan sweet marooned in the chocolate box when all the tastier ones have been taken; the fat boy who sweats a lot whom no one wants to sit next to in class; the spotty wallflower in the home-made dress left on the sidelines at the dance; the month with nothing to commend it.
November at least has some colour, and February sticky leaf buds, brevity and the distant whiff of hope in the air, and the first signs of growth in the ground.
January? It's all the reject bits of the other months stuck together in one big awful lump. And it's so bloody long, each hour passing only in slow motion, each day dragging its turgid feet towards a merciful midnight, each week seemingly without end as the month grinds on in what feels like geological time. God, it goes on.
But there is a case for January, m'lud. Picture if you will the heady revels of Christmas, the unbridled spree of New Year. And conjure in your minds, too, the frolics of spring, the first flushes of excitement as the sap rises, and flora, fauna and a young man's fancy comes to life.
Where would we all be if we went straight from the thrills of the one to all those of the other? In no fit state to relish either, I submit. We'd be exhausted, frazzled, overstimulated and at some risk of hyperventilating – which is no way to prepare for the coming year. Not according to any doctor I've consulted.
And so, arrangements have long been made for us to have January. It is a time to rest, to recuperate, recharge and restore the finances for the fun days ahead.
It is like one of those wet Sundays in the old days, when nothing was open and the enforced lolling and lazing set you up for the pushing action of the week.
This first month is our sabbatical, where nothing much happens, for that is the point of it – all 44,640 minutes of it; every one of its 744 hours; and each of its seemingly interminable 31 days. Three languid cheers for January.