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Staving off the winter blues

    OK, it's the first week of January and I know for a fact that all of you are clinically depressed and will remain so until the clocks go forward. And yes, I know that it is dark out there from about lunch-time onward, the winter weather is, well, wintry and there are no holidays until Pesach.

    However, I'd like to present an alternative, counter-intuitive interpretation of January. You see, for me this is pretty much the best time of the whole year. There are lots of reasons to enjoy this month. The stress of the holiday season has gone. If you are observant, you have had to endure watching everyone else enjoying themselves while you watch re-runs of Strictly Kosher and Jewish Mum of the Year on TV. And if you do the Christmas thing there is all the stress of putting a party together combined with the guilt of celebrating a festival you know you shouldn't really be celebrating at all.

    Then, a few days after that comes New Year's Eve. Nobody likes New Year's Eve, what with all that forced jollity and the compulsion to drink alcohol until the middle of the night, at which point the clock tells you that yet another year of your life has disappeared in smoke. This is of course followed by New Year's Day, which resembles the most depressing Sunday ever.

    But now, a few days later, you have to admit that things are looking up. If, like me, you have arbitrarily decided that spring should actually start on February 15, then we are only six weeks away from a change of season. Already, the days are getting longer. And there is every chance of snow over the next couple of weeks to make commuting a little more interesting. Plus there is all the excitement of the third round of the FA Cup this weekend.

    And yes, I am aware that everyone is stopping drinking, but then we're Jewish - we never really started anyway. And as for that winter dieting thing, forget it. It has been scientifically proven (at least I have a vague idea that it has) that mid-winter is the very worst time to cut back on calories because your body craves the extra warmth that stodgy foods bring - so you are almost doomed to failure. Best to wait until the relative warmth of April to shed a few pounds. It's the same with exercise. There cannot be a worse time to start your fitness programme. Gyms are at their most crowded at the beginning of January and if you decide to go for a jog in the park, might I suggest you wait until the second week in May when the flowers are blooming and the temperature may have risen above five degrees Celsius.

    So there you have it. All that there is to be done this January is to enjoy the relief of the end of the party season with a warming bowl of chicken soup (don't forget the lockshen) or a nice big piece of cake eaten on the sofa of your centrally heated living room, as you watch spring almost springing from under 10 inches of snow.

    Me? I'm just dreading June 22 - it's the most depressing day of the year, you know.

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