After all that loud and frantic festive activity throughout December and ongoing parties in January, I expect you’ve been longing for a good rest. A bit of peace and quiet to allow the body and soul to recuperate. Some of you, of course, may have been doing a spot of physical mending like a dry alcohol-free January, or a low carb month or even a wild attempt at daily jogging or weekly visits to the gym. I know of one person who tried to go Vegan for 2020 in the hope it might benefit the planet as well as herself, but she didn’t seem to last beyond the first week of January without succumbing to a bacon sandwich. A friend of ours in Cornwall told everybody he’d made a New Year’s Resolution to swim for one minute in the sea every morning, but this didn’t get much further than January 2nd. These are all punishments—self-inflicted penalties as part of a personal guilt trip because you woke up with a double hangover after too much gin, prosecco and Old Peculiar (often in the same glass) from the night before. Anybody who makes extravagant promises when they’re feeling like complete rubbish is bound to fail. Surely there’s a better chance of success if you think about reward rather than reprimand—a carrot is more effective than a stick.
If you’ve been particularly good, you should claim a prize. Here are a few ideas:
Physical Pampering: Treat yourself to a trip to a local spa and enjoy a bit of aromatherapy or a soothing massage. If that’s a bit expensive, then make an appointment with your favourite hairdresser and get a completely new look. I’m also told the latest thing for girls is to visit a Nail Bar—apparently, there are loads of them springing up all over the south-west. Boys could try a visit to a Turkish Barber, another newly fashionable bonus to many local high streets where you can get shaved, oiled, smothered with hot towels, have your nostrils waxed and all of those fine hairs you never knew you had burnt off. It may not cure your hangover, but your face will have so much happening to it, you’ll forget you ever had one.
Lunch: Invite someone special to lunch. And your lunch guest will be… yourself! Yes, just you. Have a good old-fashioned prawn cocktail or a home-made steak and kidney pie without any need to have a meaningless chat with anyone else. You can even take a book if you like. There’s no one with you to get annoyed and tell you to put it away.
Learn how to bake things: You might have been inspired by Great British Bake-Offs on TV (or not) and of course you can cook a meal—even bacon, fried egg, frozen peas and oven chips? OK, but have you ever baked a cake or a loaf of bread? It really can be quite fun. This task usually requires reading a recipe book (Boys please note—you’re actually allowed to do this. It’s not cheating like reading a microwave instruction book before you take it out of the box and turn it on!) And you will glow with pride like a warm oven when you’ve succeeded. This is one of the few prizes you can actually eat.
Mental Pampering: when you were much younger did you ever put your favourite rock band on the turntable, turn up your HiFi really loud, put on your stereo headphones and blast your brain for ten minutes with Jimi Hendrix or the Rolling Stones? When was the last time you did this, I wonder? Time to re-live your disco days and your misspent youth perhaps?
Tech Burning: This is the opposite approach… you need to unplug your phone, turn off the radio and TV and walk to the bottom of the garden. Wear earplugs for a better and completely silent effect. The idea is to divorce yourself from every outside interference that’s happening in your life. After 5 minutes of hush, you may start to hear the grass growing and your heart thumping. After about 15 minutes of total silence, you will find yourself drifting into a meditative state. Try to stay awake, particularly as I’m just reminding you that your nephew and his young and awfully noisy family are coming to tea and you still have to go shopping for ginger biscuits and butter. And don’t forget you need a half bottle of sherry for your aged Aunt who’s coming for lunch tomorrow. Sorry to wake you from your quiet contemplation, but it’s February and it’s time to take the dog out.