Why was January so long this year? I mean, obviously, it wasn’t long long – it still served out its regular 31 days – but it dragged like a dead leg along cobblestones, didn’t it?
Mention January to anyone since around the 14th or 15th this year and you’ll find everyone has remarked on how drawn-out it felt. It hasn’t even been that cold or particularly dingy, yet it still felt like a month-long hangover, 31 days of crushing regret or esprit de l’escalier, a seemingly infinite expanse of dull aches, depressing news, absolute garbage on the TV and all your expensive electronic Christmas presents breaking down in unison.
The real reason it seemed so long is actually very boring. While it may have felt like a mass enchantment by an evil witch damning us to spend the rest of our naturals in perma-January, it was nothing more than a quirk of the calendar. New Year’s Day – first day of this new century called January – was on a Monday, itself the Dry January of the average week. Usually, we have a couple of days back at work after New Year, which we spend gossiping with colleagues we didn’t even realise we missed, before it’s the weekend again and we can decompress and get ready to start the year properly, on, like, the 6th or something, as it should be. But not this year. New Year on a Monday and then BOOM, the tablecloth whipped from beneath your crockery before you’ve even licked the last crumb of Christmas cake from the corner of your mouth.
An unfortunate side-effect of this terminal case of Januaryitis is that we find ourselves in the unusual – nay unforgivable – situation of finding a saviour in the mediocre and actually looking forward to February. February! The bar for our heroes has never been lower. February – or “Feb” to its oleaginous, odious mates – is the icky stepchild of the calendar, who has candid creepshots of you on its phone and once tried on your socks to feel what it was like to be you, is suddenly elevated to the status of saviour. February, a month that has done nothing since time immemorial but simply sit there and wait for January to be over, turning in its perfunctory, unenthusiastic shift of a mere 28 days before posting the keys to March and not even leaving any handover notes – the only sign it was here at all a depleted bank account thanks to its mid-month festival of tack Valentine’s Day and, probably, the toilet seat left up.
I’ve never got on with February. February is that guy who circles you at a party, never talking to you or maybe even looking at you, but always there, in your eye-line. February knows you can see, and likes that it irritates you. February is aware it won’t be around for long – it has somewhere much more exciting to be – so doesn’t bother trying to make friends with you.
Instead of the personal touch, February, which has always envied December, vomits up its own version of Christmas, an ersatz, overly sentimental festival of love, usually observed at emotional gunpoint by lovers all across the world. February sells it to you as the only way you can show your devotion, that any other event actually meaningful to you – an anniversary, your birthday, the series finale of Doctor Who – simply won’t do. No, demands February, if it’s true love you’re after, you shall only find it in the last available table of your high street’s second-worst restaurant, eating powdery carbonara or oily sushi within a window of 1 hour and 15 minutes before the next victims arrive. It’s a deal cooked up with mythology’s other wastrels, St Valentine, Cupid and, oh I don’t know, Aphrodite probably has a hand in it too, to make you as miserable as possible and utterly powerless to express it.
As if that weren’t enough, while the month blusters and drenches you, every four years it adds on another day, dangling March even farther out of your grasp. Be born on this day and you are royally screwed, denied a proper birthday for most of you life. Anything Christmas can do, I can do better, smirks February while it pulls its acrylic tanga briefs out of its arse and runs its fingers under the cold tap.
February took people I loved away from me. My mum lost both her parents to February, albeit years apart, and my best friend her dad too. I have stood stock-still in uncomfortable black suits dreaming of sliced Mars bars and compliments left unsaid far too many times for me to find February remotely comforting.
But… there is always something to break the spell if you wait long enough. Maybe I can learn to love February again. Perhaps now it works for me. The month does not take rejection well, and has thus given me no option but to appraise it anew. Stand by for some self-promotion – hey, it’s my name at the top of the page
On 1 February 2018, what always seemed the impossible is a reality – my very first novel became available for the general book-loving public to read or hear for the first time – released on ebook and audiobook.
The Last Romeo is a story you’ll recognise but won’t have heard before, and it may surprise you a little, even if you’ve been reading my words for years. It’s very much a book with a gay character at its heart – which was very important to me, and unapologetically so – but it’s about much more than that and I think there’s something in there for everyone. It’s a bit different, I think, but I guess you’ll be the judge of that. The reaction so far has been overwhelming and so encouraging. I’m thrilled.
If you can’t wait for the paperback – which is coming in May, a very gorgeous month indeed – then download it and, I hope, enjoy.
I can’t wait for you to read it. After all, I wrote it for you.
February, maybe you’re not so bad after all. But don’t push it.:
Image: Still loads of Christmas trees everywhere. Yes, they’re dumped in the street, which is quite distressing, but at least I get to see them.