January... it will soon be over

If you look at this beauteous array of veg and think of bacon, you probably won't get through veganu

If you look at this beauteous array of veg and think of bacon, you probably won't get through veganuary. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I haven’t given up Prosecco and I haven’t gone vegan... but there is so much else to do in January

Fresh Carrots, Leeks, Turnip and Beetroot... so good for you. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

Fresh Carrots, Leeks, Turnip and Beetroot... so good for you. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Halloumi burgers ? there’s something I never thought I would write, let alone eat.

January has been hi-jacked by people who would have us give up all alcohol, eat cardboard (in its various substitute meat variations) and take unaccustomed exercise.

As I drink little, the first is not much of a challenge, but I have been meat-free on four occasions over the last seven days, namely: beans on toast day, lentil soup day, roquefort and pear tart day, and the aforementioned halloumi burger day.

Halloumi is more of a substance than a food. In appearance it lies somewhere between flexible bath sealant and a slab of something you’d find in Lush, the fragrant soap shop. In texture it is as bouncy as a dense foam make-up applicator and in taste... well, I have yet to identify one.

Thus, when we eat halloumi burgers we add a slice of giant tomato, a field mushroom, onion and the relish of one’s choice. You may ask why we bother with the halloumi at all. I can only say that without it, the burger seems more like a sandwich. You need a central ingredient, even if it doesn’t taste of anything.

I think a ratio of 4:3 non-meat:meat is a good balance. I’m not sure I want to be a vegetarian despite its undoubted magical properties when it comes to everlasting youth. Several years ago, I interviewed Stewart White from BBC Look East. He has been vegetarian since he was a boy and thus, I imagine, before there were hundreds of veggie cook books and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It must be either Stewart’s diet, his genes or the portrait he hides in the attic that has kept him looking so young... for his age... whatever that is.

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Man was designed to be omnivorous (no, not that, you’re thinking of polygamous). We have teeth for tearing and biting flesh and it seems a pity not to use them, even if evolution probably wasn’t thinking about a bacon sandwich when it bequeathed us pointy canines.

Giving up the booze and eating nuts and seeds are new for January, but it is a month full of possibilities, especially for those who are issue-led because January is: Book Blitz Month; Bath Safety Month; California Dried Plum Digestive Month; Financial Wellness Month; International Change Your Stars Month; International Creativity Month; International Quality of Life Month; International Wayfinding Month; International Wealth Mentality Month; Be On-Purpose Month; Bird Feeding Month; Clean Up Your Computer Month; Get Organised Month; Hot Tea Month; Mail Order Gardening Month; Mentoring Month; Soup Month; Oatmeal Month; Rising Star Month and Self-help Group Awareness Month.

There are about a dozen others but, frankly, I ran out of steam.

Book blitzing encourages you to read all the books you’ve been meaning to read. I am thinking about deliberately misinterpreting that and, instead, having a blitz on the bookshelves. After more than 40 years of trying to make it past page 50, I think I am finally going to throw out that mostly untroubled copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses. And am I ever going to settle down with the mighty tome that is War and Peace? Every time I pick it up I find myself sidetracked by the lure of a frivolous book such as 1066 and All That or Asterix.

California dried plum digestive month? Do they mean prunes? I think they mean prunes.

International creativity month... you couldn’t make it up.

It looks as if January can be whatever you want. You can refocus your life, feed the birds, drink tea, regulate your bowels (still not possible on a smart phone), eat porridge, count your money, be safe in the bath, celebrate talent or, get help.

Yes, dear reader, in my case, January is Take It With a Pinch of Salt Month...

“East Anglian Men Say Bye to Beards in 2018” alleged my email. I am told that 64% of men in the region are now clean-shaven and that just 19% wear a beard. This leaves 17% who, I assume, either have a moustache and no beard, have stubble or hugely invasive eyebrows.

As for women, only 5% say they prefer a bearded man... the other 95% preferring a bearded woman (not really, I made that up ? see International Creativity Month above). In fact, 65% of women would rather men were clean-shaven. Maybe a wake-up call for Brian Blessed?

In the survey only one in 50 men said he didn’t know how to shave, although 45% of East Anglian men didn’t know that hair around the neck area often grows in different directions and needs to be shaved accordingly. I knew that. It’s quite clear to me that chest hair grows upwards towards the neck while back hair grows down from the head.