Christmas is over... now the countdown to misery can begin

The children have shunned my 'anti-advent calendar' counting down the days until January 21, officially the most miserable day of the year, even though I pointed out that the anti-depressants within would soon become far more moreish than chocolate.

I opened the first window on Tuesday– Happy New Year! – and eagerly revealed the first of 22 uplifting messages: The good news is that it's one day nearer to the end of January – the bad news is that it's a day closer to January 1, 2014.

January, as we all know, is God's revenge for Christmas.

Weather which seemed festive in December is transformed into unending bleakness, the early pay day you celebrated at Christmas is now biting you on the backside as you contemplate waiting until the end of the month to eat again and the children no longer respond to threats about a Big Brother-style Santa who spends all day judging them.

But hey ho, there's always Pancake Day to look forward to.

While I'm still feeling nostalgic for last week, when there were exciting things in the fridge like cheese-that-isn't-cheddar and wine-that-didn't-cost-less-than-�3, let me take this opportunity to thank all the readers who sent me cards and presents for Christmas.

I was genuinely touched, and for once, not in the head.

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It was truly humbling that so many people took so much trouble to buy a relative stranger a gift and, more impressively, that I was able to pass off so many of those gifts to my strange relatives and pretend that I'd bought them.