New Year thoughts

The festive season is over.  But spare a thought for the people who were parted from their loved ones over the holiday period, and who instead had to spend it with their families. We like to play parlour games, like “guess when the bin men are coming” and “spot the frozen kitchen water pipe”.  I’d tried talking to our recalcitrant pipe, like Moses was meant to have done with the rock in the desert to get water to come out and, if I could have worked out which it was, I’d have hit it instead like Moses actually did. Thank goodness ours survived freezing and thawing and we didn’t come down to find a natural spring in the kitchen when the temperature picked up.

Now we’re into a new year, and I’m with Mark Twain. Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. But this year it’s going to be easy to stick to mine, which is not to make any. As I’ve singularly failed over the years to become fabulously rich, to write a novel or tidy the office, these days I just stick to things that don’t take any kind of heroic effort to achieve.

But at my age, losing weight isn’t one of those, and I’ve been trying to find some quick fixes to get rid of the seasonal kilos (converting them to metric makes them sound less). And there have been some pretty daft suggestions published recently. Dieting has become a national obsession and it seems we’re increasingly willing to put our faith in celebrity would-be gurus rather than common sense, in the battle against the bulge and in the drive to eat healthily.

There are all sorts of silly things said about how the body works. For example, whatever we eat or take, our immune systems can’t be ‘boosted’. As long as we are generally fit and well, the immune system is more than capable of fighting disease. I read of someone who sprinkles charcoal over her meals “to absorb all the bad, damaging stuff in the body”.  Although charcoal does absorb toxic chemicals – when it’s used in gas masks and in sewage treatment – the waste products that our cells produce aren’t harmful, and they are removed by our kidneys and liver. And, bad luck, charcoal’s no help if you’ve overdone the festive booze since it doesn’t bind with alcohol at all.

Really, it’s as simple as eating less and exercising more: there are no shortcuts. Even low to moderate exercise is meant to help prevent the milder forms of cognitive decline in older age.

I wrote some time ago about swimming, but it’s such a palaver going round there, getting changed, showering, dressing, drying hair…what about jogging, for me? Unfortunately, I mostly jog to the kitchen. And here’s the worst thing about working and writing from home. Nibbling and grazing is yet more things that stops me from writing. At least when I go to the library the temptation’s not there. Except it is – part of my ritual now includes special “writing sweets”. They don’t crunch and, provided I don’t rustle the papers, nobody can object. Wouldn’t it be great if someone made sweets with story ideas on the inside of each wrapper? Move over, fortune cookies. Send them my way.

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