I might be biased

If you thought this week was grim, buckle those seat belts because we are not through the worst apparently. Tomorrow – Monday January 17th is – allegedly – the most depressing day of the year. We are heading for a car crash.

Normally I avoid doom merchants and energy saps, so all this January 17th ‘Blue Monday’ milarky is unhelpful; since reading this useless piece of data, I have found myself drawn irresistibly to bad news and gloom and the pickings have been unseasonally rich. I find myself sighing a lot in public.

This is galling because I have just completed my unconscious bias training at work, so should be equipped to reset my radar in a positive and pragmatic direction should I so choose. I am also reading an excellent book on behavioural science ‘How to Have a Good Day,’ (thank you Caroline Webb) and I have been working flat out on her advice (ok, I only started reading the book last week) setting myself positive intentions to avoid the threat of potential infamy (younger readers, feel free to skip on/log out, but I could not resist a nostalgic Kenneth Williams’ ‘Carry On Cleo’ quip, ‘Infamy, infamy! They’ve all got it in for me’. If ever we needed encouragement to carry on, it is now).

I kick myself for sharing the prospect of ‘Blue Monday’ with you, for fear that you too will now set your Sat Nav for dementors and star-crossed happenings. Still, I haven’t the energy to turn back and rewrite the blog for you; let us just head to the cliff edge and enjoy the unity as we teeter on the brink together.

All is not lost. Let me bring all my training to good use to engage in an informed response. There does not seem to be much science behind Blue Monday, so I may have been hyperbolic about a car crash – the awarding of this Blue Monday title seems to rest on some vague data around gathering credit card bills, December pay packets arriving too early/being spent too quickly, and a good seasoning of post-Christmas cabin fever i.e. ‘It was lovely that you could join us for New Year, what an unforeseen gift that you could then isolate with us for a further 10 days’. The data suggests that divorce lawyers get excited about a busy few weeks from January 17th onwards, and if you are thinking of resigning/retiring, now would be a good time to join the surge. Up the ante further with the prospect of rising energy prices, job losses, wave 2 or 3 of WFH, Omicron and the realisation that we perhaps have not stuck to – or even started – a New Year intention to start some exercise. Readers, you have the ingredients for a January pity party/work gathering if you can muster up the energy to attend.

I sense that I may not be cheering you up.

I can only speak from a personal point of view, but, if I work through the impending clouds, I find that I can pick off some low hanging fruit and thus dilute the January 17th onslaught. I have already ticked divorce off the list and while I would not recommend this, the process made me much more savvy with my credit card and utility bills ( always a silver lining). Then, working in education, I realise that there is scant prospect of WFH again, and, even if I resign/have the guts to retire, the Education Secretary will want to being me back out of retirement to play Covid Catch up with our young people. Finally, I did not really set any New Year resolutions this year and so I can justify a little smuggery that, chubby though I am, I have kept running and rolling out my yoga mat through these dark Winter months and I think I have just about enough energy to continue to do so. .

Now that I have reframed, I feel upbeat enough to offer the following in an attempt to redress January 17th:

  1. If your name is Andrew, Novak or Boris, January 17th threatens to look even darker in comparison. I do not like to gloat, but our January dark is a lighter and more nuanced shade.
  2. The news cycle from the above three characters has regenerated our social and work life for the next few weeks. I for one, will be planning a wild ‘work event’ and I will invite colleagues to get absolutely ‘suitcased’ if they can show an appropriate passport. If hangovers prove too onerous and teachers are unable to make it back into the classroom afterwards, we will WFH and just apologise to the Queen.
  3. I have flights booked – yes, Covid-willing, I intend to make it out of the country for the first time since 2019. Even better, after spending Christmas apart from Favourite Son and Favourite Daugher, I get to go on holiday with both of the aforementioned and their fab partners. We are even taking FM with us , despite some inappropriate excitement about getting ‘suitcased’ in Portugal. For those of you still unable to travel, at least you can look forward to some blog silence while we are away.
  4. Favourite Man (FM) tells me that he gets paid this week and so he can not see what all this pay day fuss is about . I will count on him to ensure that we retain a full fridge and keep the hospitality economy afloat when we have no energy to cook. It is good to know that at least one of us can afford the tickets for our holiday (above).
  5. My good friend tells me that snow drops have been sighted in her garden. We have plans for her to smuggle some snow drop bulbs past FM in the hope that he doesn’t chuck them out with the garden recycling as he did last year. Snow drops are always a sign that we are through the worst.
  6. This week I have completed both a run and a boot camp on hard frosty ground – I cannot tell you what an improvement this is from sliding around in the mud. It may encourage me to exercise more and I have noticed that the washing machine seems a little less sulky.
  7. I have a date in the diary to meet my dear uni pal for the first time in years. Because we are both collagen guinea pigs, I like to think that no-one will believe that we left University in 1985 – unfortunately I fear she will have photographic evidence . At least I now have someone with whom I can share an intertextual ‘Carry On’ reference, even though – unlike us (please!) – these films have not aged well.

I am biased of course, but I do believe that we would be wise to nip January 17th in the bud before it gets rooted (unlike my snow drop plants). However, feel free to share your January antidotes; my subconscious tells me that Tuesday January 18th could still turn out to be a nasty viral fester and that a booster plan may come in handy, even for the most upbeat and Novak-hesitant.

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