It’s telling that I haven’t felt like updating this blog for, ooh, a few months. There’s something about winter in Blighty that doesn’t inspire me to write jolly copy with an ironic twist. But now, yes now, when it’s almost time to lock up those troubles in the old s**t bag that was January 2011, I feel compelled to put fingers to the ‘Tale of Two Countries’ keyboard once again… so here goes:
Things I don’t like:
- Phone alarm sounding at 7.30am
- Walking up a steep hill at 8.30am (school run minus vehicular transport… yes, I really am one of those annoying parents who is a lazy s*d in the morning and can be spotted carrying out awkward manoeuvres near the school gate)
- Van breaking down in the fast lane of the M1 (cue fears of instant death)
- Broken van spending three weeks in the garage
- “Mummy I’ve done a poo” (said at top volume) two minutes into a half-hour bus ride.
Well, that pretty much gives an accurate picture of January… give or take a bout of Flu (thanks, piggies) which put paid to the idea of New Year celebrations, a disaster of a birthday party and my three year old scratching the screen of our HD telly with a spoon, after liberally smearing it with yoghurt.
But, as my folks pointed out: “At least nobody is dead.” Uhu! Well, that makes January seem loads more palatable all round, thanks.
It makes me think… is the January Blues a tangible thing or do we just escalate any problems and talk ourselves into feeling down? According to Visa Europe, the week beginning 11 January is the busiest time of the year for flight bookings: i.e. people glance out of the window at the gloom outside and decide that a week in Torremelinos is exactly what they need. Recently, I’ve been commissioned to write about family-friendly ferries. It makes me want to board one. If we can’t at least fantasise about our ‘great escape’, perhaps we dwell in even worse January doom. And give a thought to all the parents out there who can’t afford to escape Blighty this year because the fares charged by some operators/carriers almost double in the school holidays.
According to the Samaritans, suicide rates peak in January and psychologists have decreed that January 24 is the most depressing day of the year. To beat the blues, ‘experts’ suggest that we eat a proper breakfast, lower our expectations, get enough sleep, and try to make plans that don’t involve battering our credit cards or punishing ourselves for annihilating them previously. I’m not sure what other people are expecting but surely it isn’t aiming too high to aspire towards a life outside the alarm clock / school run / laptop / vegetating in front of telly / going to bed when the movie has finished? Aw, forget it!
The month of January is named after the god Janus, who is usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions – one into the future and one into the past. Based on the way this jinxed January has panned out, I would rather just live in the present and believe that it will all improve in February. But, to look on the bright side, those who are not in Blighty (i.e. expats in Spain) may be sitting in an unheated house clinging to the side of a mountain, watching their food freeze on the table, and dreading taking a bath in ambient temperatures of 5C and then putting their feet straight on to the concrete floor. Maybe winter in Blighty isn’t so bad after all: let’s aim for the benefit of positive thinking.