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New Year's revolution

January is renowned for being a melancholy month, as hordes of people try to come to terms with their post-Christmas blues and going back to work while at the same time sixth-sensing the unstoppable approach of a credit card bill of a size not dissimilar to that of Kilimanjaro.

This is a little unfair. All of the above examples do have an effect on the psyche, of course, but January is also a time for looking forward - joining the gym, exchanging unwanted gifts for stuff that you actually do like and, not least, for giving up alcohol. Unless you're a school teacher that is, in which case, you probably drink more alcohol than ever as you realise you're only half way through the academic year.

It's quite sobering (see what I did there?) to see customers coming into the pub to order sparkling water or tomato juice or some such hellish liquid. Actually, it's not sobering at all - I just said that for the sake of a rubbish joke - it's actually very funny. Everybody knows that, while it's perfectly possible - some might say desirable - to drink four or five pints of beer at a sitting, when it come to water or juice or soft drinks our appetite just isn't the same. This means that a familiar pattern emerges around this time which goes something like this:

2nd January - "Hi, Happy New Year. I'll have a sparkling water, please. I've given up alcohol for the month." (Proud smile optional).

Half an hour later - "What juices have you got? ... Oh, great , I'll have pineapple, please."

Another half an hour later - "Er, right time for bed. See you tomorrow." (It's eight thirty).

3rd January - "Hi - a pint of lager, please." (Sheepish smile compulsory).

Maybe one of the reasons that January is considered melancholy is precisely that we're too hard on ourselves after the unbridled excesses of the festive season. We shouldn't feel obliged to go cold turkey (see what I di... oh, never mind), rather we should ease ourselves back into our routines, continuing to eat and drink too much but not to Christmas gout-inducing levels.

Then in February we can have a bit less than in January and so on until December when we can spend a couple of token weeks down at the gym and drink some glasses of water and have a few cream crackers before beginning the whole cycle all over again. It may not be the healthiest option but it'd certainly be a happy one.