It really is the most (weird and) wonderful time of the year.
When else do you eat and drink like Ricky Hatton between fights or gorge yourself as if you were Robert De Niro in his prime, bulking up for a career-defining role?
We drink like we’re at Georgie Best’s wake and stuff our faces with rich food that would make our GPs puff out their cheeks, roll their eyes and shake their heads. And then in January we suddenly get buyer’s remorse after all this unbridled hedonism and sign up to fitness warehouses the size of aircraft hangars where we pay good money so we can burn off our excess energy in the warm and dry. Some of us even stop drinking for the whole month.
You know what our grandparents would say, don’t you? You know, the generation who lived through the Second World War and rationing, when the Germans were dropping bombs on them and food was so scarce they had to eat their pets. “Don’t eat so much, don’t drink so much, walk around a bit more, you idiot”.
Okay, so that’s not very Christmassy, but neither’s shops, bars and restaurants putting up their trees and decorations in September and screwing every quid they can out of emotionally blackmailed souls like you and me. What with everything – food, drink, presents – we spent roughly a month’s salary in our house. The boss was in a rush to get our decorations down and our tree in a pot planted in the back garden. So by the time the New Year hangover had lifted (about 5pm on New Year’s Day, thanks for asking), it was like Christmas had never happened.
And apart from mild alcohol poisoning, a brief flirtation with Type 2 diabetes and remembering – after time spent with your extended family – why you left home at 18, what have you got to show for it? Daughter #2 has been ill all over the holidays, struck down by that horrible lurgy that’s going around, and daughter #1 has either been at her part-time job or out until stupid o’clock with her friends, armed with her newly legit driving licence featuring a November 1999 birthday, proving beyond all doubt that bar staff have to give her what she wants – and keep them coming.