I’ve had enough of the puritanical brigade: the “dry January” lot; the clean eaters; the obsession with personal trainers.

By all means, cut out life’s pleasures – but please don’t show off about it. I’ve developed a different version of the line originally attributed to Voltaire: “I approve of what you do, but I will defend to the death my right not to listen to you bang on about it.”

In my revenge on the self-deniers, I’ve developed my own regime: drunken sport. There aren’t many forms of physical exercise – particularly the boring forms – that aren’t improved by a few drinks.

On New Year’s Day, I had two pints of scrumpy before biking along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Suddenly, I gazed afresh on sights familiar to me for 35 years. The low dusk light singed the evening clouds a burning red. The fields looked as if they’d been furrowed with a celestial rake. The long, steep hill leading to the village of St Petrox – normally agony on the thighs – was magically flattened and shortened.

Then, last week, I addressed the Richmond Literary Lunch at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club. I calmed my nerves with a few glasses of white wine – and then took to the golf course; the first time I’d played in over a year.

I can’t say I played particularly well. But I felt minimal nerves before a shot; and very little of my usual self-loathing anger after the shots I messed up.

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