Jayne Dawson: Well done everyone – we are through the worst

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson
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Oof. There you go then, we’ve done it.

It’s been a hard road, a grim road, you might even say a rocky road – except sweet treats like that have not been allowed for some time now.

But we have arrived. We are still a bit shaky from the multitude of really quite nasty viruses that have laid waste to our immune systems, still anxious from the multitude of really quite nasty spending that has laid waste to our bank accounts.

But we are still standing. And January, long, long January has come to an end.

The worst is over, the year has begun. Let out a big, long sigh and remember all the reasons to be cheerful that it is now February. Here are some of them, to help you be grateful:

n You will not have to listen to anyone saying “I hate January” for a very long time. Not for another eleven months. And we do say this to each other all the time, don’t we? The most over-used word in the country in January must be “miserable”. No one has a good word to say for the month. Except me - sometimes. Catch me in a certain mood and I will tell you that January appeals to my inner Oliver Cromwell. I like its sparse, Puritan nature, its bareness and beautiful bleakness. But on another day I’ll tell you that the whole month totally stinks.

n No-one is going to send you demented with the “R’ word anymore. Because it’s boring, isn’t it? This whole nonsense of starting over, being better, creating a new you. It’s enough to drive a person to drink. Which is probably the right way in which to approach January. A new year is a frightening prospect: it isn’t yet bedded in, it hasn’t become familiar, we are not yet comfortable with the year’s disappointments. That is no time to deny yourself the comfort of alcohol. Anyway, it’s unimaginative to do down the denial route. If you must make resolutions, choose to make life more fun, not less.

n Finally, you can say nuts to decluttering and start squirelling instead. Because throwing away your stuff in January has become an obligatory ritual. We are all meant to spend the weekend in the loft, in the garage, or with our head stuck inside that awkward corner cupboard in the kitchen.We are meant to hunt down and destroy all that has not been worn or used in the previous year. This is supposed to be good for our cupboards and good for our soul. But how many times have you thrown away something “useless”, only to really wish you hadn’t a few months later? The way to avoid this terrible scenario is never to attempt a clear-out in the first place. Embrace your ornaments, and those bequeathed to you by your mum and your gran, I say. Love your life’s detritus - because nobody else will.

n If January had a flavour it would be cabbage. Or cauli. Or kale. January is green, and not in a good way. We spend most of the month in the supermarket vegetable aisle, loading our trollies with things we will later make into a despairing soup, since most of them will be on the turn having been ignored in the fridge for far too long. But you can stop doing that now. It isn’t required behaviour anymore, the calendar has moved on. And besides, my mum says kale used to be only grown for animal feed.

n You can finally whip off your pyjamas. Hang on, don’t be getting any funny ideas... but we do spend a lot of January in our pyjamas, don’t we? The weekends are not for enjoyment so much as hibernating. We do half-hearted decluttering..in our pyjamas, we huddle on the sofa watching bad television..in our pyjamas. Our bodies become delicate things. Come Monday morning, they wince at the horrid, uncomfortable feel of buttons and zips.

But now it’s February, lovely February, when pay day comes round quickly and we can spend our weekends dressed again. We can eat, drink, buy daffodils and hot cross buns. Life is good, but enjoy it while you can because it’s only 330 days until next January. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Alexandra Shulman. PIC: PA

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