The other day, a fellow craftsmen sent me a message which said ‘how’s life and all that shit?’ Fair question, I thought. ‘Fine’, I replied, ‘considering it’s still fucking January.’ This got me to thinking: what is it about January which is just so awful? 

The Theory of Time

When you get older, if you are anything like me, you lament at the rapid speed at which time travels. It seems, with increasing age, comes increasing speed, though not in a useful sense, like faster brain processing in calculating your VAT, or the ability to outrun a rabbit on your morning dog walk. But the increasing speed in which time goes by. You wake up one day and it’s April 24th. You run a few errands, hoover the floor and suddenly it’s October 3rd. That sort of thing. 

Except January. 

January passes at a glacial rate, and a glacial rate before global warming at that. Every day lasts an eternity, which is ironic as January comprises most of the shortest days of the whole year. And the dark of a January morning! The dark morning mocks me with its faceless, all-encompassing presence. And as much as I like rain, if it’s raining on a January morning and I have to get up, I am Sin itself. Satan is just one in a whole box of puppies in comparison. 

An intelligent race? Really?

As an apparently intelligent race, what, therefore, do we do in January? We decide to do Dry January and to give up sugar and chocolate; to go on a massive health kick, even if we haven’t so much as lifted more than a hot coffee the previous year. We decide to completely reinvent ourselves into something SO much better than we ever were before. Yes, we opt to make the direst month of the year EVEN WORSE by not drinking, not eating sugar and trying to run 10k before eating breakfast, (which can consist of anything, provided it’s not carbs). 

It seems utterly bizarre to me that we would do this to ourselves. And I’m as much guilty of this as anyone else (apart from the running. I won’t run, ever. Chased by a bear? Fuck it – it can have me). I get through that mindless period between Christmas and New Year by promising myself a better ‘me’. A better life. What’s worse is at that time, I really believe it. Despite 40-odd years of repeating this behaviour, I still think that this new year will be the one! I feel almost dizzy with the optimism (I am not used to optimism, therefore when I feel it, it’s extreme and comes with dizziness).

Promises, promises

This optimism shows itself in my behaviour by my deciding not to go through my wardrobe and chuck out what I don’t wear. Come the New Year, I will lose so much weight, said item will look fabulous on the snake-hipped, new me. I look at holidays online because when I relaunch, I will consequently become so successful, a yacht holiday is entirely plausible. And as I eat the last Christmas chocolate, I look at the wrapper disdainfully as if to say ‘that’s that, you little shit – come the New Year, you won’t tempt me with your sugar rush anymore because…well, ‘new me’’. 

Of course, inevitably, ‘new me’ doesn’t arrive. ‘New me’ just becomes a more pissed off version of ‘old me’, because now I have failure to add to my persona. 

The Wisdom of Dormice

Listen, all I want to do in January is stay in and hibernate. Like a massive dormouse. (As a completely unrelated aside, that reminds me of a time when a gloriously funny friend of mine who I worked with, said of a short colleague ‘I don’t know if Gary is just short or a really fucking massive Borrower.’) 

I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to socialise. The only time I’m creative in January is in finding vastly outlandish reasons for staying in bed in the morning (“I can’t get up because I had a dream whereby I’d die if I get up before noon and I don’t want to tempt fate”) or for not going for a walk (“my walking socks are in the wash and they take five WHOLE DAYS to dry as they can only be dried by the breath of a fledgling wren”).

As I write this, it’s still January. It’s also at this stage of an essay whereby the writer comes up with a really positive outlook to counteract the essay’s earlier negativity. I’m not going to do that. It’s January. I hate it.