Yesterday two friends dropped round. One has a successful online counselling service, the other a property services business but is a significant fund raiser for charity through her sponsored running. The runner breathed a sigh of relief and I am sure spoke for many when she said she was relieved that the the Xmas period was over and normality had returned. When I was a GP I saw more depressed people over the so-called festive period than at any other time. If they had a family they found the proximity stressful, if they did not they found their solitude depressing.
The other friend had decided to return to her native Scotland to see her family. Her travails with the rail system – or lack of it – is a constant source of humour to her and us as, even in easier times, she suffers extraordinarily bad luck with any journey. However when there was chaos as there was between Xmas and New year she really suffers. She was diverted from Kings Cross to Finsbury Park to travel north by rail and, after endless delays for the network to restart after engineering works, she had to give up her plans. Alan Tanner was not alone in finding a relatively simple journey from Bournemouth to Brighton exasperating.
Add to the mix too the rampant consumerism of pressurised shopping. Having read Bob Tickler’s column, I called him for his views on the supermarket sector. He said it was one of the least attractive in which to invest and there was intense pressure on CEOs to deliver positive trading results over Xmas, hence the Black Friday three weeks before Xmas and the sales after.
I find it a disorientating time. I have senior moments when I cannot recall what day it is as it seems a perpetual Sunday. Like many I succumb to excesses of food and drink. I was therefore pleased in weighing myself before I resumed my swimming that I had not put on any pounds as I was steeling myself for the January regime of no alcohol.
Its rather odd that the modern Xmas has taken root in diverse Britain, but perhaps the spiritual void has been filled by consumerism. Certainly the decline of the family unit is not helped by a forced period together. Thank goodness,as I say, it’s all over for another year.