Opinion

Cold snaps and broken resolutions – welcome to the UK in January

There's an undeniable tension in the air across the UK as the harsh realities of January kick in

Image for Sam Delaney on road rage

A moment of road rage underscored just how miserable January can be. Illustration: Big Issue / resources: Shutterstock

Everyone has got the right hump in January, haven’t they? You’ve probably seen them, those angry, tired, miserable bastards. Beeping their horns in traffic and gesticulating violently out of their windows. And then there’s the passive aggressive ones – they’re even worse. Looking right through you when you try to offer them a smile. Pretending they don’t know you’re there as you wait patiently for them to move out of your way in the jams and spreads aisle at Tesco’s.

Perhaps you are one of these moody arseholes. I know I am. We all are, sometimes. It’s the time of year: no sunlight, no money, no fun. Many people are trying Dry January which – from my experience – will feel frustrating and dull for the first few weeks, before your mood brightens and all of your energy returns. 

Personally, I’m off the sugar, the pasta and the bread. And yes, that’s as dismal as it sounds. I spend my days shuffling between office and gym, stomach rumbling and joints aching. I don’t know what I hate most about myself: the flab around my waist or the predictability of my resolutions.

Anyway, don’t worry about me. I’ll get through it. I’ll either grind these bleak months out with a gritty determination that will see me slim, energised and gleeful come spring. Or I’ll give up, start scoffing crisps and Snickers again and my personality will, on the surface at least, return to its usual state of loveable cheekiness.

All I’m saying is, you should be careful. Because when the whole country has got the hump, danger lurks everywhere. We are a moody nation as it is. We’re not like those Americans with their bright white perma-smiles and deranged sense of optimism. Or the Scandis with their irritatingly measured air of intelligent contentment – like a nation of modestly successful architects.

Even the French, as grumpy as they seem, have their philosophy to fall back on. When it’s cold and rainy, they’ve sworn off the foie-gras for January and had to pay a massive tax bill, the Frenchman takes solace in his smug conviction that life is all an illusion.

Brits are more straightforward. We say it as we see it. There is no grand notion guiding us through. When things look shit, we accept them as shit and respond accordingly: with anger and self-pity.

I got stuck in one of those yellow box junctions this morning while giving the kids a lift to school. I drove into the box behind a moving car which suddenly slammed its brakes on, blocking my exit. In the three seconds I was stationary in the box, I was angrily beeped at from all angles. I felt like Butch Cassidy at the end of the movie, pummelled by the bullets of the Bolivian army. 

And the faces that stared out of the car windows: contorted like gargoyles, consumed by outrage. One purple-faced man scowled at me and jerked his thumb over his shoulder as if to say “GET OUT OF THAT YELLOW BOX NOW YOU DISGUSTING PIECE OF SHIT!”  I was a victim of mob-hatred. These angry, hungry, frustrated Brits in their slow-moving cars needed an outlet. I provided it. Perhaps their shared animosity towards me helped them feel connected to each other in some small way.

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Maybe it took the edge off the sense of loneliness that haunts us all. Perhaps it helped unhappy January drivers feel part of something. Feel seen. They would have arrived at work with slightly less rage inside because they’d used it up on me. Their colleagues would have found them strangely less irritable than usual. Everyone’s day would have been slightly, imperceptibly less awful. All thanks to me. 

But, please, don’t call me a hero. I’m just a starving-hungry bloke with a car and a short attention span.

Read more from Sam Delaney here.

Sort your head out book cover

Sort Your Head Out: Mental Health Without All the Bollocks by Sam Delaney is out now (Constable £18.99)You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy!

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