I LOVE mid-January. The weather is foul, the nights are long and TV schedulers have simply given up. But I rejoice. We are, at this very moment, probably further away from vacuous festivity than at any other time of year.
Hallowe'en, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year's Eve have come and gone. Valentine's Day is still nearly a month away. There is only one date looming on the desk calendar and that is Holocaust Memorial Day (which takes place on January 27) and I don't suppose anyone will be throwing a party or sending me cards for that.
We send far too many cards in this country. Were we to send fewer some might arrive on time. Our children also spend too much time making the damn things. Last term, young Tom was forever fishing out curious creased cardboard offerings from his school bag.
Under the tutelage of his new art teacher, Gerry Bimbeau, he recently produced an old woman holding what looked like a giant dish mop between her legs (Hllowe'en), a picture of Big Ben in flames that wished me Happy Bonfire Night, three kings making their way through the snowdrifts of Bethlehem and a picture of a tangerine waving its orange tendrils over the horizon which, I'm told, represented the dawn of Happy 2001.
While lying through my teeth in order to encourage my son's creativity, I do have to say that such superfluous festivity alarms me.
Firstly, I can't help wondering what future historians will make of our generation's iconography. Why did 21st-century man celebrate flying crones, political assassination and blizzard conditions in Israel?
Moreover, I worry over the fact that every year more events to celebrate are created by card manufacturers - Father's Day, Grandparents' Day, Ex-wives' Day. Wouldn't it be nice to have a few days devoted simply to getting on with living? Which is why I like January.
So Happy Getting On With Life Month everybody! (No cards please).