It’s a New Year, with hopes and dreams of good health, wealth and love unconfined.  It’s a lottery how long this feeling of euphoria lasts, but to coin a phrase, better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.

Call me curmudgeonly if you will, but ten minutes’ worth of fireworks on Sydney Harbour bridge, year in, year out, is beginning to lose its magic, and endless renditions of Auld Lang Syne leave me cold.  And besides, the lyrics were penned by a Scot, Rabbie Burns no less, so what’s he doing south of the border? I thought the Scots wanted independence from us almost as much as we do from them, so this nonsense seems like cherry picking.

But I digress.  You will not have failed to notice in every newspaper and periodical the New Year diet plan, each making more extravagant claims than the next about shedding those unwanted pounds with results you can see in seven days. The one that caught my eye was in the glossy supplement of my newspaper, about a chef, known affectionately as Lardo, who lost twelve stone, or half his body mass. Frankly I don’t believe him, but that’s by the by.  I don’t know how long it took him to shift all that blubber, perhaps it doesn’t matter, because according to my calculations, this time next year he’ll be good old Lardo again.

And that’s the problem.  Those who are as fit as a butcher’s dog don’t need to diet, as they have a different metabolism to the rest of us and a different attitude to life.  They read recipes by Gwyneth Paltrow, they eat disgusting green slime, and drink nothing but Peruvian bat’s urine, but are they happy?

My father-in-law had a refreshing attitude to dieting and shifting those few unwanted pounds at the turn of the year.  He would have a bowl of Special K cereal immediately before his full English breakfast.  This would last a full 3 days, after which, job done, he got on with the important business of living life to the full.

I remember the last time I dieted, not of course that I needed to.  I did all the right things, I ticked all the right boxes, and I put myself through living hell.  After seven days, weak from hunger, I dragged myself to the bathroom scales, only to discover to my horror that I’d actually put on three pounds.

The diet sheet hit the pan, where it belonged, I embraced my father-in-law’s diet, and got on with the rest of my life.  My wife tells me that with the wind behind me and a favourable light, I look positively boyish, if only for a fleeting moment.  It’s moments like these that must be treasured.

Everything in moderation is my motto, and mine’s a large one.

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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

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