23 January, 2011
January jet-setting: When England has the libido of a sloth…
When I browsed my Facebook news feed this morning, more than a handful of my friends recent statuses were to do with holidays, sunshine and getting-the-faux-fur-away from January’s bleak outlook. “Thirty degrees in Sydney today…ahhh I love sunshine!” read one. “PACKING!!” boasted another. Followed by seventeen smiley faces. It seems that when the going gets tough, the bright people get economy class to destination sunshine. And are pretty happy about it.
By comparison, for those who are staying in England to bitterly yet stoically see out the winter, their ‘stoic’ updates read “SAMBUCA! TEQUILA! SCHNAPPS! I’m calling the shots now!”, “Excuse me, liver, but why do I have a hangover after 2 glasses of wine?” and “By all accounts, I threw up in a flower bed.” Oh dear, people! It seems that when we’re not getting any sunshine induced sweet relief from the torture of dark mornings, icy pavements and another week until payday, we turn to our good friend Sailor Jerry to ship us away from it all – first stop Rum.
What a sorry state we’re in, I thought. On the one hand you’ve the people gleefully packing, throwing sale-price bikinis into a holdall, digging out their passports from wherever they threw it last August and hop-skip-jumping into a taxi whilst manically yelling “Vamos!” to the driver, in preparation for life on the other side. On the other hand, the rest of us stand on the doorstep waving them off forlornly, wrapping our coats tighter around us and wondering if 8am is too soon for a beer. Just to take the edge off.
When you’re feeling down…down it. Apparently.
It’s plane to me that the January jet-off pandemic is more about avoidance of painful post-Christmas reality, than a serious need for sunshine. Mainly because if we look at today’s Facebook status comparisons, if we are not joyfully booking flights, packing or already on holiday weeping with relief into our sangria, we are drunk, hungover or throwing up in flower beds.
Alcohol is not a substitute for sunshine. Clearly. We don’t down a bottle of vodka and instantly transform into tanned, relaxed individuals with a golden glow. No. Alcohol is an alternative means to getting away from it all. If it was really the oftimes absent sun people were seeking, their comments this morning would have read “crazy night in the salon, all over those sunbeds, can’t wait to go again” or “Ouch, I’m in pain. Think I over did it on the St Tropez.” You get my point.
Wanting what we can’t have…
Everything feels so desolate after Christmas and New Year, and Pancake Day is still a good few flipping weeks away, so what have we to look forward to if not a sunny get away? Food? No, the whole world is on a diet. Obviously. Shopping? No, the whole world is fat and has no money because we spent it all on Mince Pies. Sex? Excuse me, we’re fat, poor, depressed and probably hungover – we have the libido of a sloth. So we crave crave crave until we cave.
Suddenly every thing we can’t buy in River Island looks simply stunning, we find ourselves crying “WOW. Have you seen that pistachio gilet made from recycled hair!? I want it! Oh damn you tardy January pay cheque!” Every cake in the window looks like it IS what we were put on earth to do, our chocolaty fate, right there in front of us – “If we don’t eat it, will God be pissed off? What’s more important, losing the Christmas weight or getting into heaven…?” And every country in the world other than ours looks like the very best place to be, the more unaffordable the better. (Apart from the North Pole. That would definitely be worse.)
Thus January is generally a month for wanting that which we cannot or should not or will not have – sunshine included. If January was traditionally tropical, we would probably be craving blizzards as if snowflakes were money. To sum up, we don’t need to go to Mexico; the longing to do so is just another by-product of our January coveting disorder and a means to postponing reality that little bit longer.
Sun, sea and…Santa?
Furthermore, how come we suddenly need sunshine now, I beg of you? We managed fine without it in December. The Sun barely even got a mention last month, except for the Son of God, whose birthday it was. Sure people were craving sleep and a holiday and ‘I really wish this snow would disappear’ was a frequent festive phrase, but no one complained that things just weren’t hot enough. Except for maybe the turkey, if it wasn’t cooked through. Come Christmas time no one woke up on Christmas Day, excitedly opened their presents, heartily ate their pudding and snuggled up happily to watch Wallace & Gromit, only to suddenly see the cold white blanket covering their garden and cry “Ohhhh! I’m just so fed up that I can’t sunbathe today!” Or if you did, get a grip.
Deal with it
Basically for UK citizens, January is our thing. Some countries have to contend with life-shattering earthquakes, some endure waves of fatal floods and fires, some have Sarah Palin and a cholesterol problem – here we have January and all that it implies. Lack of sunshine included. But I couldn’t help wondering this morning; do we really need those golden beams of joy in our lives all year round to be happy and/or soba? Is it a basic human right? Should there be a Vitamin D act of 2011? Or is this national disarray I’m seeing merely a case of going great easy-jet deal distances to avoid reality?
Either way, getting down under is probably a sure-fire way to avoid getting down and I’m not going to pretend I’m not monitoring the fact it’s finally getting lighter in the mornings, squealing with delight with every day that I wake up and it’s not snowing and feeling completely smug whenever it’s too warm for my winter coat. Don’t worry, people. British Summer is coming. And for the whole 2 weeks that it’s here, we won’t need to drink a drop…