The holiday season is at an end and so disappears our last bulwark against the onset of winter doldrums. Many of the folks where I live in California are getting stuck into fitness routines and mad diets as the New Year begins. 2016, with its multitude of celebrity deaths, gave us all a sobering reminder of mortality, and surely wanting to stave off death is the main driver for people hitting the gym 13 times a week and giving up booze?
I expect many in California avoided an extravagant and alcohol-fuelled New Year’s Eve celebration. These people are now embarking on their nutritional plans and exercise regimes. The temperate weather here suits the yogis, joggers and cyclists and they will be out in their droves throughout January and beyond.
Even Britons are backing off the sauce in favour of a ‘Dry January’. I can’t help but feel sympathy for those who devote all their energies to health and longevity while missing out on the pleasures to be had in the present.
Who wants an ascetic, strict food intake and a rote, joyless exercise plan? As Woody Allen said: ‘You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.’
Shouldn’t we enjoy our limited time in this mortal coil with sumptuous feasts and bacchanalias fit for a king? Let’s not follow the lead of the shiny skinned ‘celebrity’ nutritionists, and instead look to Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards for inspiration.
As a legendary bon vivant, he has cheated death on innumerable occasions. Not even 2016 could finish him off, and when it comes time for him to go belly up to that big open bar in the sky, he’ll have a number of stories to tell and no regrets about a life well-lived (My favourite Keef anecdote is the one about the time he nearly set the Playboy Mansion ablaze while carousing with saxophonist Bobby Keys).
So, let’s forget all this abstemious modernity and, in the spirit of Keith Richards, raise a glass (or three) to the next 12 months.