We are regularly told that January is the most miserable month of the lot: 31 short days and long cold nights when very few of us have any cash and are full of self loathing.
As one of the millions of those who celebrate their birthday this month I would refute the suggestion that it is the black sheep of the calendar but recognise that, in December, it has a tough act to follow.
Unless you are a Morrissey-loving curmudgeon, the 12th month is the main event, one when we tend to spend the least time in the office and the most time partying but it is right at the very end of it when we run into problems.
Resolutions are where it all goes wrong for many of us, simply because the promises we make are usually so unrealistic that it can only end one way. I tend to keep my pledges to self a secret, largely due to the fact I have the self control of a Premier League starlet with a pocket full of cash. But this year I have set myself the most realistic of goals and arguably most altruistic resolution of the lot. This year I have promised myself that I am going to spend more time down the pub.
It really isn’t as selfish as it sounds and here is why.
Ask the vast majority of people to talk about their favourite life moments and I am willing to wager a packet of pork scratchings that a boozer will feature highly in a very high percentage of them.
The pub has a place in the hearts of more people than any other building with the exception of maybe a church. But, rather like the average Brit’s relationship with religion, their affection towards the local tends to be clouded by the rose tinted specs perched on the tip of their nose. The sad fact is that we don’t frequent the pub anywhere in the numbers we once did and it is taking a heavy toll. The most recent figures suggest that four pubs are calling time for good every day with many of these closures causing permanent damage to the communities they once served. Once the local goes then the places where the community can meet become severely limited and that is before you consider that the post office, another bastion of a bygone age, is no longer as ubiquitous as it once was. And glasses were last week raised to Oxford University academics who concluded that talking to your pals over a pint of Best is good for our well-being.
We all know the reasons for the demise of the pub: the seemingly endless duty that successive governments have placed on a pint, the rise of cheap supermarket booze and the biggest shift in lifestyle for many generations.
Another cause is that half the country seems to be a constant ‘no booze’ diet, especially this time of year when Dry January and the fundraiser Dryathlon are all the rage.
Drinkers can ease up on the booze at any time but to encourage millions to knock it on the head for an entire month is the stuff of nightmares for publicans.
Our pubs need us, so please excuse me while I get my coat. I’m off for a pint.