January 0


It’s January, 2011. The land is barren, mostly frozen, and there is no sun. The thermometer has barely risen above zero all winter and we still have a couple of miserable months to go. January, together with its soul mate February, is the least interesting month of the year.

There are only two sensible things to do. One is to hibernate and the other is to leave for warmer climes. I have absolutely no sense of loyalty to the British post Christmas winter. If it was a pretty, white, frozen landscape that might be different but it ain’t.

This afternoon the fire is lit which helps. Fire has an offsetting effect on January and February. Central heating doesn’t do it. You need flames and direct heat. You need crackle and flicker and colour. It’s all part of hibernation really – the falling asleep on the settee in front of the fire.

January is an austere month. A time of admonishment. It used to be of necessity, to conserve supplies until fresh growth. Nowadays the necessity comes from overindulgence during the mid winter holiday. The bleak mid winter holiday.

The austerity accompanies those who cannot flee. They are trapped. The notion of going somewhere warm for the remainder of the winter seems to clash with the idea that belts need tightening and livers restoring. So most of us tighten and restore and bend our heads to the wind glancing up only occasionally to keep our bearings.

Thank goodness for the fire.

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