So. January it is then. Personally, I have always had something of a fondness for this most unpopular of months, with all its connotations of fresh starts and new diaries; I also like the fact that already the days are visibly getting longer, although this will be hard to believe as I set off for work tomorrow in the pitch black. There are those, whoever, who just don't have a good word to say about poor old January; here are a few suggestions that might cheer up those doubters while we all wait for Spring.
First up, is the Not Part of NYE Festival 2011, a one-day variety show involving theatre, comedy, music, poetry and dance on Saturday January 15th. Not Part of was established in 2007, and runs alongside Manchester International Festival in the summer. This one-off winter warmer will feature more than thirty different acts, and - even better - these brave souls will be spread over all three floors of FAC251: The Factory. The thinking here is logical - Not Part Of aims to uncover new, up-and-coming talent rather than the established acts commissioned for the main festival, so where better than the hallowed grounds where so many great bands began? Plus, people in their thirties who refuse to let go of their youth will be able to go all misty-eyed and nostalgic as they relive the ghastly mistakes of their student days (apparently - obviously this doesn't apply to myself). It all sounds very interesting, and tickets are just £8 on the door. Further details from www.notpartof.org.
If that's too much culture for you, you could always take a leaf out of my book and spend January eating and drinking (as opposed to doing this in any other month, naturally). This is a poor time of year to start a diet, as restaurants will do virtually ANYTHING to get you off the couch and through their doors this month. My own favourite January offer is for Gusto, the classy Italian pizza chain, whose Didsbury branch is having a commendable "online sale". If you book your table online between now and the end of January, you get 50% off your total food bill (excluding Saturdays and - in case you were really thinking of pushing the boat out - lobster). Full details on the Gusto website.
Finally, I feel duty bound to offer you something to work off all those half-price pizzas. A friend whose opinion I do generally hold dear has been raving about something called Zumba, a fitness class that is apparently both fun AND promises to have you whittled down to a sylph-like figure in no time. Should you wish to test this out, classes run at Parrswood High School in East Didsbury every Tuesday at 6.30; or, you could dabble with a spot of belly dancing at 7.30. You can find out more at www.zehara.co.uk; personally, I think it's hard not to be enticed by a flyer that proclaims "leave the telly, move your belly" (although I do have visions of men across Britain clinging on to their beloved set crying "noooooooooo" as their mean wives grasp their feet and try to drag them to exercise class). Anyway, I might just see you there; otherwise, I'll be stuffing my face with the estimable seafood risotto down at Gusto.