I have treated the Christmas holiday break as would an aging bear preparing for winter.

I have laid down a sustaining layer of subcutaneous fat and would like to offer my thanks for the part played by the fridge that was once full of Stilton and cold Turkey, and also to a mountain of mashed potato, enough to sculpt Snowdonia for a winning Turner Prize entry. I have also practiced falling asleep whenever and wherever my increasingly ample exterior has encountered soft furnishings. I can honestly say that I have never been better prepared for a period of hibernation. However, as Monday 4 January 2021 looms literally just over the horizon, I suspect that the chances of falling asleep for three months and waking up in the blinking warmth of Spring sunshine, are disappointingly remote.

And so, it will come to pass that instead of escaping into unconsciousness, I will deploy my normal terrified Sunday evening routine, but with added New Year terror.

In doing so I will feign a sort of studied calm as I thoughtfully consider whether I should add to my one-hundred-and-seventy-eight item to-do list. To the casual observer there will be no clue as to my inner turmoil as I wonder if I should colour code the relative priorities described by the list. I will be like the condemned man quietly digesting his last meal, dabbing the corners of his drying mouth with a perfectly starched napkin.

Obviously the most important thing to do at such an existential crossroads is to check the cricket fixtures in seven months’ time, and to ponder whether it would be better to apply for the second or the third day of the Test match. An equally pressing concern will be whether my sock drawer might need tidying. At a later point in the evening, when cricket date decisions having been made and socks have been rolled perfectly into serried ranks, I will hear the Mission Impossible theme tune play in my head, and I will resolve that not even I can prevaricate anymore, although a cup of tea would be perfect at this point.

Inexorably therefore the working New Year will begin. A time to look forward and a time to hope; however I am afraid I do not have an inside track on how to fill our boots with optimism, nor can I share with you how I intend to smash 2021 with the “New Me”. To be honest I have always felt that January was a fucking dreadful month. It really does not deserve to be seen as a new start for anything. It is like the least likeable guest lingering in the corner of a party that finished hours ago.

There is for me however one sustaining thought that even a Sunday evening tango with my imposter self cannot completely shake off. While I am of course full of flaws, insecurities and doubts, I have come to realise that I do not need to be at my very best every second of every day. Life is not a competitive race where I must win at everything or otherwise lose it all.

I know I must let the world spin fast around me because it will do so anyway with or without me. My purpose therefore is not to spin with it, but to put down the best possible roots I can with family, friends and colleagues, to anchor activity with kindness and care, and to learn to bend and sway with the winds that a spinning world creates.

Take care

Paul x