Call it the triumph of hope over experience. But the start of every new year brings out the cock-eyed optimist in most of us – with the start of a new decade merely amplifying the stubborn conviction that the next twelve months will be better than the last.

And actually, this time round, things really can only improve. 2019 was an exceptionally bad tempered twelve months all round, thanks to the all pervasive politics of Brexit, amplified by an election in the deep mid winter.

The start of a new year also has its own traditions, amongst which are the solemn promises of resolutions, a few of which might even last out the first month.

Some stout souls mark the post festive season of total over indulgence with ‘dry January’ – no alcohol will pass their saintly lips, not even on Burns night.

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If I were tempted to follow their splendid example – and I’m not remotely – I think I’d have gone for February, which would at least have the merit of finishing sooner.

January is also the month when the most improbable people announce they will turn themselves into gym bunnies.

This is why the gym franchises advertise so heavily, because they know that for every subscription taken out by overweight, under-exercised new clients, around three quarters will never be over the door again after week three or so.

Money for old rope, or gullible tubbies.

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This week, in the comfort of my motor, I daily passed half a dozen stalwarts who prefer to take their exercise at their own pace, in their own way.

Which is why they are jogging along the highways and byways in some seriously dodgy lycra, wearing an expression last seen the time I accidentally bit into a sprout.

Exercise is said to be addictive on account of the endorphins it releases, making you feel good, experience less pain, and engender your very own high without the assistance of morphine.

I am sure this is so, since otherwise sane acquaintances swear by it, even as they head out into rain assisted January winds.

They will undoubtedly live longer than me. Or maybe it will just feel longer.

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