Tomorrow there will be snow: weather presenters have been looking forward to the event. They look uncomfortable when the barometer is steady and there is nothing dramatic for them to forecast, but they are excited right now, even though it's January and snow is just one of those things we ought to expect - as is a gym full of New-Year's-Resolutionists.
So why, I ask, has my gym chosen this busy month to close half of the facility for refurbishment? It's very inconvenient. I've had to re-arrange my (almost) daily timetable in order to avoid the scramble for the cross-trainers - and even then I'm lucky to get one with a TV that works. Yesterday, instead of the customary repeat episode of A Place in the Sun, Home or Away, I was stuck having to watch a continuous display of measurements of my physical frailty: speed (61 spm); distance (0.71 km); power (242 watts); calories used (224 kcal); time elapsed (24:11); effort level (25); heart rate (sluggish) and goal set (modest). It was a wake-up call.
And I've had to buy a new pair of plimsolls, not because I'd worn out the old ones by excessive use, but because they fell apart on account of being so cheap. This time I doubled my budget to £6 to ensure a reasonable level of quality and durability. All right, they're not very fashionable but they are very white and, when I catch a glimpse of my feet pumping away, they flash like beacons, a potent reminder of my commitment to physical exercise.
Not that I've made a New Year's resolution because, on the whole, I think the concept is flawed. Resolutions are January's curse, turning it into a month of misery. We Anti-Resolutionists have to put up with not only congestion in the gym but also irritable friends who have given up smoking, grimly determined pals who have 'gone on a diet' and - worst of all - sorry souls who have decided to torment themselves - and others - by not drinking alcohol until February 1st. My heart sinks when they turn up at a social event with a bottle of cordial and a promise that they will enjoy themselves. I know that they will be driving home early, leaving me at a loose end. Such friends are best avoided until their self-imposed purdah expires and they revert to type: there is little enough fun to be had in January as it is.
But for those who are not abstemious, January is a bounteous time. I'm thinking of empty restaurants, desperate for custom and offering stonking discounts of up to 50%. Assuming you can find a friend who is neither fasting nor abstaining you can have a companionable, discounted dinner and blow the saving on an extravagantly expensive bottle of wine. If I had any inclination to make an annual resolution it would be this: go to more restaurants in January.
Otherwise I think it's more effective to make one's resolutions daily. Adopt a positive attitude each morning, review your goals, make a to-do list, prioritise it (cross off all the faffing) and stay on course for the rest of the day. To help with this, try installing the handy Wonderman Life Monitor app (patent applied for) on your phone. Just like the display panel in the gym, it keeps you from being distracted by entertainments and focuses your attention on life's fundamentals. You simply fill in the parameters - money accumulated (£per day); money spent (steady now!); time elapsed (usually more than expected); goal set (could do better?); effort level (you cannot be serious!) - and check the display from time to time. Being realistic though, I suppose the novelty would soon wear off.