Barely have I recovered from my overdose of turkey and Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Rioja than I'm invited via Twitter, Facebook and my supercilious neighbour Iain, to do Dry January, a challenge to give up alcohol for the month of January. I won't be doing this. Quite the opposite. As I write this, I'm waiting for a particularly alcohol-filled Ocado order. Normally I put some food items in the order - spinach, porridge oats, quinoa - to make my lifestyle look slightly less dysfunctional to the Ocado man. But not this time. The poor chap will need to double up all the bags, such will be the glassy weight of wines, beers and spirits he's forced to carry to into my home.
Yes, I'm going to drink more in January, to send out my own message. Which is that 2016 should be the swansong of days, weeks and months of the year being appropriated for awareness of this cause or that. Given that there are just 365 days in the year, there are a finite number causes or issues we can be made aware of on a daily basis. In fact I'm overly aware now. I have awareness fatigue. I could do with a few days of being unaware. I'm sure I'd sleep better.
Here are just a few coming up in the next few months - National Doodle Day, National Old Stuff Day, World Thinking Day (I might give that one a go), Winnie The Pooh Day (obviously) and my personal favourite Squirrel Appreciation Day. Yes, that is actually a thing. While we're at it, March is National Bed Month. Good luck selling that one to your boss.
Where does this end? Perhaps we should have World Bathroom Tile Day - they're great aren't they? And very rarely appreciated for the work they do, keeping water and condensation off our walls as we bathe. Or how about National No Left Turn Signs Appreciation Month - after all, think of the carnage if those bad boys didn't exist. I'm amazed a ballsy charity haven't decided to up the ante and take over a whole year? Or how about People Who Wear Glasses Decade? I like the sound of that one, though may be a little short sighted.
The calendar is a sacred thing and a day in the year should never be the commercial and intellectual property of any organisation, however well intended its aims are. Ultimately it just becomes a PR battle, with lesser-known causes falling by the wayside. There are other vested interests at work too - government departments often chip in and of course big business is always happy to ally itself to virtuous causes; for them charity always begins at home.
And even worse than being told that a week next Tuesday I have to worry about bowel complaints, is being told when to drink, when not to, when to do a triathlon, when to give up meat, when to sleep outdoors overnight and when to wear a onesie to work. (NB, I always do that last one, I work a lot from home. I'm a vision in leopard-print polyester as we speak). In my view, these jolly japes we have to participate in - wacky sports, challenges, stunts - use up valuable drinking time and risk injuries to parts of our bodies we didn't know existed.
The Dry January campaign is a case in point. The suggestion that we abstain from alcohol for a month and do what we like for the rest of the year only perpetuates the British drinking model of all or nothing - it's a binge drinker's charter. Sure, it's a laudable campaign, but in alcohol terms, Dry January is another faddy diet that will confuse our bodies and set us up for a fall when the good habits are broken. I mean, who'd be a liver on the first of February after all this abstinence? A campaign suggesting we drink less all year long would make more sense for our health, but it's not very marketable. Three days on, four days off for example? Who's in? But this kind of idea isn't sexy, doesn't rhyme and is too many words for a poster.
Making it a particular month, week or day is much punchier, easier to sell and easier to do. But we shouldn't take the easy route. All in all, us Brits need a longer term solution to a variety of health problems - sugar and salt intake, alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle to name just a few. We need to live well in a sustained, healthy way - every day - and in a way which becomes part of our culture and lifestyle, as it enviably is in other parts of Europe.
And here's the thing - the medical community aren't even agreed on whether the fasting model is necessarily any good for you. And that makes my mind up for me. I'm not going to disagree with doctors am I? That would be frankly reckless. And I'd hate to be reckless. So there you have it - I'm not doing Dry January because of the health fears surrounding it. Which means that when I wake up tomorrow morning, the only special cause I'm going to be aware of is my hard-earned hangover, courtesy of my good friend the Ocado man. I'll drink to that.
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