Tis the season for no Bolly, tra-la-la-la-la. Yes, one week into January and we’re already under the cruel spell of this post-Christmas mistress of misery. The twinkling lights and laughter of the festive period have now faded as we strip the fridge of cheese, champers and chocolate and replace them with kale and almond milk.
As we tuck our expanded bellies into our waistband each morning we look forward to a breakfast smoothie of tree bark, yak spit and woodshavings. We can’t even drown our sorrows – lots of people are doing dry January – but what if your December was barely bothered by booze?
I was live on the radio at 6.30am on New Year’s Day so I didn’t party at all. And I wasn’t alone: lots of listeners were up and at ’em, out walking the dogs, baking cakes.
I don’t feel like I missed out on anything so won’t be holding a “catch-up party season” – it would be unseemly of me to now walk the kids to school in last night’s clothes, the morning sun glinting off my wonky party hat.
For those who did over-indulge and are now off the liquor, research shows that dry January has a positive impact on people’s drinking habits, so high fives all round. Last year, I had requests from people asking me to sponsor them and their booze-free month. Really? I love a fundraiser but if you honestly think staying off alcohol for four weeks is such a huge achievement that it deserves sponsoring then that’s slightly alarming. I’ve stayed dry for a month without noticing, but I’ve never climbed a mountain without thinking or accidentally run a marathon. Attempt either of those and mi casha su casha.
This whole binge/purge pattern we follow through to January is a curious affair too; over Christmas we cultivate a big belly, patting it proudly like a prize marrow being grown for the county fair while declaring the diet starts in January. You’d never grow your hair long and keep swishing it around saying: “This is all getting cut off soon!”
I decided to keep exercising a bit during the festive period (I know, amazing I can jog without my halo slipping…) but I need to exercise as it makes me feel good and I shout at my children less. Plus I have a complicated relationship with food – thanks mainly to a modelling career a thousand moons ago where being constantly surrounded by size 8 girls gave me a skewed view of what is a normal size and shape.
I’m constantly aware of food in, exercise out, keeping a mental log book of my body. I’m sure various family members would scoff (no pun intended) at this – but watching me pile my plate high on Boxing Day with a mountain of delicious grub, no one would know that I was stubbornly ignoring a mean little voice in my head totting up the calories and whispering about the fat content.
Despite not over-indulging that much, I still find myself curious about the latest January health kicks. Actress Angela Griffin was tweeting about the grim reality of trying to consume aloe vera. I thought it was meant to be rubbed on sunburnt shoulders, not drunk, but apparently it’s packed with vitamins and minerals and is good for everything from your hair and skin to digestion and detoxification. Despite its seemingly magical powers, however, I was put off by Angela’s hilarious description of its texture, which isn’t suitable for print in a family newspaper.
If your January is still dry, then well done you. The bad news is it’s a Saturday night later; the good news is you’ve only 22 days to go.
All the fun of the fair – without the cruelty
Despite having successfully avoided a trip to the funfair-on-steroids Winter Wonderland (a couple of sugar-dipped acres in Hyde Park) over Christmas, I found myself there on its penultimate day when my best pal visited with her daughter.
The screams from the roller-coaster drowned out my own screams upon paying four quid for a bottle of water. No matter. One simply needs to suspend one’s disbelief at the prices as it was actually brilliant fun.
The highlight was Zippo’s circus – the opening number was as if I’d time-hopped to a 1990s Hamburg gay club: all muscular bare-chested men dancing to thumping techno. They soon leapt into action, literally. There were incredible displays of gymnastics, trapeze and daring stunts.
My favourite was a Bulgarian couple who performed a romantic aerial ballet while suspended from a length of silk. It was fantastic and there wasn’t an animal in sight, proving that, like smoking on planes and Page 3 girls, we’ll look back on dancing elephants and lion tamers with a mixture of disgust and disbelief that it was once considered acceptable.
Bringing people together through soft furnishings
It seems I’m a glutton for punishment. I popped along not once, but twice to a well-known hotdog joint this week that does a sideline in furniture: Ikea, the huge blue monster squatting by the dual carriageway that swallows you up and spits you out three hours later, exhausted, disorientated, £300 lighter and clutching a consolation pork snack.
As much as it drives me crackers, I’m strangely fond of the madness in there. Entire families have a conflab by the bunkbeds as grandma has a go on a swivel chair. Couples recreate Munch’s The Scream, holding their faces as they try to decide on the perfect kitchen unit configuration.
Surely this is the true test of a fledgling relationship – once upon a time a knight might have slain a dragon to win over a fair maiden, now he just needs to find Aisle 24 Loc 3 without losing his rag.
If you doubt that modern Britain works as a melting pot then visit this furniture shop because all life is here: cultures mingle and mooch, kids cry and folks choose bookcases with names like celebrity offspring – Hemnes and Oxberg. All forge the same path towards their final goal, choosing the right queue before heading out, squinting at the overcast skies.
Will you be the show couple in the restaurant window?
My father-in-law rarely accepts the table he’s offered at a restaurant. I love this – old-school chutzpah mixed with a firm belief that you deserve the best.
A report this week though is a game-changer. Maitre d’s confessed they give handsome folks the best seats, using them as beautiful bait at a window seat. Tragically, if the customer they reel in is an ugly old trout they will be swiftly relegated to a seat in the shadows.
Whenever I’m now seated by the waiter I’ll presume my first-offered seat is a verdict on my appearance. If I’m made to do the walk of shame to a dark corner by the loos where each mouthful is tainted by the whiff of Toilet Duck Citrus Fresh, I’ll presume it’s because he’s drunk in all my features and decided I’m neither the correct vintage nor pretty enough to be displayed out front.
Date night will be a minefield, where one has to be alluring not only to the other half but to the waiting staff too. I think I’ll get a takeaway – at least you can eat that in your jogging bottoms and are always guaranteed the best seat in the house.
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