THE trick to mastering the grey gloom of January is to go easy on the self-flagellation.

My waistband may be cutting uncomfortably into my bloated belly as I type – yup, I'm aware this is what happens when you have been saying "To hell with it, it's Christmas …" since the September weekend – but I refuse to bow down to the gods of moderation.

The supermarkets are the worst for this. Only a few weeks ago, the aisles were packed to the rafters with tempting treats. They pushed cheese platters like crack dealers and used marketing voodoo to brainwash us all that if you didn't have 19 different types of fancy biscuits, you were failing as a host.

Now you can't move for protein shakes and kettle bells. Having steadily clogged your arteries with gloopy lard over the past fortnight, you're suddenly expected to buy an air fryer and a vegetable steamer.

No more idle rolling between the fridge and sofa either. Instead, you need to march about everywhere as if you have re-joined the Girls Brigade, racking up steps that will be tallied by a shiny new fitness tracker.

Bikes are being dusted off in garages and running shoes retrieved from the back of cupboards. Regular gym-goers find themselves ousted from work-out machines by the perennial January influx of interlopers who swear blind that this will be the year they become a paragon of health.

The reality is they spend 0.01% of their time exercising and the remainder posting arty selfies on Instagram (hashtags #NewYearNewYou #CleanEating etc) or staring mesmerised at their own Lycra-clad reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

That thunderclap loud ka-ching is not the sound of shop tills ringing up the last of the cut-price Christmas tat, but rather physiotherapists, chiropractors and masseurs having cash thrust at them like upmarket lap dancers as they are engulfed by a tsunami of daft fitness-related injuries.

Then there's the Dry January bores. Tedious individuals attempting to seem less mind-numbingly dull by imagining themselves to be locked in a thrilling tussle with alcohol over-indulgence when, in fact, they are merely eschewing the occasional small glass of red with their Sunday lunch.

You can keep all of it. I need a few more days. Maybe a week. Screw it. I'll take the month.

Adventures in soft furnishings

GOSH, I've read that back and realise I sound like a right old grump. My sincere apologies but it has been a testing few weeks. Regular readers will know that I recently moved house. We're settling in nicely, thank you. I'm just trying to wrap my head around a few things.

Such as buying carpets. Apparently, it is not quite as simple as walking into a shop and saying: "I wish to purchase one carpet, please." In fact, it is not anywhere near the ballpark of what could be considered straightforward.

Firstly, it involves traipsing round an industrial estate on a Saturday afternoon to visit showrooms, each filled with identical little squares of carpet. You brush a hand across the surface, admire the thickness of the pile, flip the price tag over and emit a silent scream.

If you squint your eyes and look closely, there can be seen the most subtle of differences. Cream or dark cream or light cream. Maybe a flicker of beige. A hint of fawn. Undercurrents of oatmeal.

But mostly it is staring intently at samples until your pupils start swirling like when Kaa hypnotises Mowgli in The Jungle Book.

Carpet shopping is a befuddling business. Matters weren't helped by the fact I might as well have been ringing a bell and wearing a sandwich board that read: "Utterly clueless. Take my money."

By the time we reached the final stop on our odyssey, any remnants of common sense had deserted me. The salesman asked what area and I gave him my postcode. "Erm, no," he said kindly. "I mean is it for a bedroom, a living room, perhaps a hall?"

It took slightly less time to buy a pair of curtains. Although I have since come to accept that the time spent perusing these two rectangular strips of fabric is inversely proportional to the time spent hanging them up. Four hours it took. It was akin to wrestling a cloth walrus.

As the afternoon light faded, I realised the entire street was being treated to an avant-garde theatre performance that involved scrambling up and down a ladder, disappearing beneath mounds of material, only to pop back up again with a tear-stained face like a mime act in a silent movie.

Forgotten something?

A GLASS eye, a 5ft tall chocolate Easter bunny and a gallon of water from Loch Ness. No, it's not the contents of the gazillion boxes still teetering in my spare room waiting to be unpacked, but rather some of the unusual items left behind in hotels last year.

Other mislaid bits and bobs included a bottle of vintage champagne, a chest of semi-precious stones, a Coutts cheque book and a replica of Meghan Markle's wedding dress.

Budget chain Travelodge revealed there has also been a growing trend of pets being left in rooms including fish, two Persian cats and a cockatoo called Brexit.

I can quite believe it. I once arrived at a motel in Texas to find a terrapin peering up at me from the bath. It had been left behind by a previous guest. I don't know about you, but my mind was less, "Who the hell travels with a terrapin?" and more, "This [insert bleep] room has not been cleaned!"

This was later borne out when I scooted down onto my hands and knees, peered under the bed and saw a stack of crumpled Taco Bell wrappers. A tinfoil monster.

In other news, sales of music cassettes soared by 125% last year. Next you will be telling me that gramophones are making a comeback. Now if you'll excuse me, I plan to get ahead of the curve by combing landfill sites in search of a Betamax video recorder.