Melanie Morris: Sharing our guilty little secrets will get us through all this doom and gloom
As a grown, professional woman, I really must get a grip on the ways I find pleasure, but with things being as gloomy, dull and miserable as they are, and with a climate to match, I have to confess I'm finding even greater joy in my guilty pleasures then ever before. Thankfully, I don't think I'm alone.
In times like these, it is not simply justifiable, but smart, to recognise the more, er, unique little things that bring pleasure. And so, now that we have decluttered the excess from our lives, it is time to come screaming out of the taste closet and face the music.
To me, that music is most likely to be brain-freezingly monotonous techno, which I'll listen to with as much relish on my way to work on a Tuesday morning as in a cavernous Berlin nightclub. I possibly don't fit the profile, but my love for the genre is such that a DJ friend once commented: "Melanie, if there isn't a siren in it, you don't think it's a tune."
Of course they are wrong. There is other music I adore too. Unfortunately of the poppiest variety. My most fun moment of 2006 must have been driving back from a foam party in Time nightclub in Naas (whoops, did I actually write that?), with my best friend, both of us singing along to a-ha's Greatest Hits with maximum lung capacity. She is the same girl who, that night, taught me how to 'snorkle' Blue WKDs (bendy straw, upturned bottle, one swallow). Classy ladies.
Then there is food. While I may try to eat a balanced diet, and track my calories and nutrition online, there are those times in life when only a big bag of pick 'n' mix will fill the gap. Or a Pot Noodle (I thought their 'dirty food' TV campaign a few years ago was genius). Or, best of all, when the chips are down, try dipping them in your McDonald's milkshake.
On the other end of the scale, and when not indulging in junk, I can't resist Marks and Spencer's weekend 'dine in' deals. Now, I'm not someone who is good at budgeting and counting the pennies, but I get a rush when I see what delicious menus they have on offer at such good value. Just as I get a frisson when I see Lidl's 'weekly specials' flyers pop out of the Sunday papers. And with the M&S offer, it is a terribly rewarding challenge to find a delicious wine in the deal that you would actually hunt out if it wasn't part of the menu.
When it comes to eating out, is it really bad of me to finally confess that after years of being wined and dined in style, I prefer the cafe food in the Four Seasons Hotel to the fine fare in the main dining room? Long the secret of many a celebrity and socialite, go try the chicken curry, or juicy cheeseburger and see for yourself.
I'm massively relieved that these days, thanks to the nation's slimmed down disposable income, it is alright to stay at home. Cue a chance to binge on my obsession for box sets. I don't think I've come up for air since the MD of Boodles got me hooked on series one of 24 at their Christmas party last November. I'm now ashamedly on series seven.
But I add to my guilty pleasures quota here by saying that I combine my viewing with nights of frantic sewing. I'm a tapestry addict and so many of my works-in-progress were cast aside during the Tiger era while I was out swilling champagne in some den of repute.
Now that times are a little leaner, I'm happy as a clam to be reunited with my handicraft, and, who knows, the wedding present I started making for a pal six years ago might finally get finished in 2010. It certainly shall if the Government decides to shave any more 'fun money' off my paycheck.
I love celebrity gossip. But the only New Year's resolution I've kept has been to stop spending money on the red-top weeklies. It is killing me. Instead, I'm trying to fill the time with a new obsession with running. It may not be shameful, but some of the sights I see through the windows of Donnybrook as I wheeze past certainly replace what I've been reading.
So let's hear it for the little things. Let's not be coy about coming forward with our personal foibles and, pass the Monster Munch sandwiches, let's share our dirty secrets. In the absence of feel-good news stories, they might be the things to entertain us and carry us through to better times.
Melanie Morris is editor of IMAGE Magazine