January under way and as usual all the talk is about what we should all be giving up for the month as penitence for our outrageous excess over the Christmas period. There is no escape; on the radio, in the newspapers, social media and on daytime tv, it’s all about how we must lose weight, get fit and generally punish ourselves for being so damned naughty. People loudly proclaim how they are doing without alcohol or chocolate, joining a gym, taking up cycling to work and one of my more daring friends has announced that he is giving up Facebook for the month. Very rock and roll!
The thing is, that pretty much everyone that is seeking all this attention are people that don’t really live life to any sort of excess in the first place. The closest thy have got to Shane McGowan is seeing him on “Christmas Top of the Pops”. Having a few Quality street choccies and half a sherry on New Year’s Eve hardly count as overdoing it, yet these people will be the ones proclaiming their martyrdom in January. The rest of the year, they are the designated driver, the calorie counter, the ISA bore, the one arguing over splitting a restaurant bill because he didn’t have a pudding. I am more interested in the ones that go at it full tilt all year round, the ones in the pub Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday lunch as standard, the ones glugging a bottle of red at home in front of the telly, who are on first name terms with Papa John and Ben & Jerry. Who know their Masala from their Madras. These are the people that take Christmas and New Year in their stride. and are the best people to spend this festive occasions with, as you will have the best time. Not someone who is telling you that they are daringly on their third sherry at half past eleven on New Year’s Eve.
Recently, I read a quote attributed to Anthony Hopkins which said something along the lines of have that fine cigar, have that glass of wine, eat that steak. The gist being life is really too short to penalise yourself. I agree. The Bible tells us that a man’s life spans three score years and ten; seventy years. Nature has largely designed us that way too. If someone dies in their nineties we say, oh they had a good innings, die in their fifties or sixties and they’re taken too young. There’s always the view that “you could get hit by a bus tomorrow”, but by living a life of abstinence, what are you really trying to achieve? Are you clinging to your youth, trying to deny the ageing process? Or do you want to try and live forever, ending up aged and infirm, dribbling, but still alive in a care home or your offspring’s spare room?
A lot is written and spoken about the creaking health system and one of the main problems is our ageing population. It’s a fact that the older you get the more you rely on healthcare. And as research advances, the more is detected in your body as you get older and more is available to help you cling on. Nobody just dies of old age anymore, in graphic detail you are told exactly why they have shuffled off their mortal coil. The pension crisis happened because when the concept was being devised, it assumed you worked until sixty or sixty five, retired, then hung on for another ten years before joining the choir invisible. More people are living longer, more babies are being born, the country is creaking!
On the radio yesterday, Jeremy Vine (a man who sounds as if he is dangling on a fraying rope over the crater of an erupting volcano) advised that if you stopped sprinkling sugar on your cornflakes, it would add a whole four years to your life span. Now, called me old fashioned, but the risk/reward equation there hardly stacks up, does it?
So, do your bit for society. Don’t be a burden on your children. Free up the NHS. Enjoy life, be kind to others by not boring them with minute about your supposed decadence. Eat, drink and be merry at Christmas and if you really do feel the need for abstinence, save it for Lent.