I was simply miserable dragging myself out of the bed last Monday morning. Christmas was over, the nice sweets were gone from the tin of Roses and only the manky orange crèmes were left, it was freezing cold and I could swear I felt a dose of the sniffles coming on.

As I was leaving the house, a glossy leaflet dropped through the letterbox for the local gym – stirring my already guilty conscience over all that indulgence during the festive season. As if things weren’t bad enough, here was some airbrushed, fake-tanned young wan beaming at me in her bikini – reminding that I’d be a long time waiting to look like her (and also a long time before it’d be warm enough to wear a bikini). With the Christmas cards due to be put into the rubbish bin this week, this is the only post I have to look forward to until the end of the month, when the credit card bill joins the inflated gas and electricity bills on the doormat.

The office never seemed colder, more dismal and the mood amongst my co-workers was pretty reflective of my own. Then I turned on the radio and heard the devastating news about Waterford Crystal…my own minor complaints paled into obscurity when I heard how hundreds of Waterford workers were facing the prospect of unemployment and uncertainty about the pension fund into which some had been paying for decades.

I was a child of the Eighties, growing up in a Waterford where several of my relations earned what was considered one of the best wages, working in the ‘Glass Factory’. Though I was only a little girl, I nonetheless picked up on the fact that a job in the ‘Glass’ was a ‘job for life’. The town was considered awash with money when the factory broke up for their summer holidays at the end of July and girls in school whose dad worked at Kilbarry always seemed a little more affluent then the rest of us.

I never thought I would see the day when I would write about that factory’s demise.

According to a study by British scientists, the first Monday in January is traditionally the most depressing day of the year, as well as the most stressful. With the holidays long gone and everyone left with mildly lobotomizing hangovers, the cold weather and the economic gloom, it seems there’s almost nothing to look forward to in the coming weeks. Apparently, people were more likely to become irritated by the slightest things last Monday then any other day in the calendar year.

Commissioned by the RNLI, the study found the most common complaints to be the sounds of colleagues eating noisily, which annoys nearly a quarter of people. This is followed by sniffing, an irritant to 26 per cent and talking too loudly on the phone, which was cited by 21 per cent. January is such a rubbish month that we’re only looking for an excuse to rant and rave at others. But if you’re about to do so in the coming days, spare a thought for those who really have something to complain about.

On a slightly lighter note, my spirits were unexpectedly lifted later in the day when I encountered a family friend, in the company of my little boy. Despite my protestations that it was unnecessary, she insisted on pressing a few bob into the child’s hand because it was ‘Handsel Monday’. It was an expression I hadn’t heard in years.

I’m sure plenty of readers will be accustomed to putting a handsel coin in a new purse or handbag to bring luck to the bearer (the idea being that as long as they carry that handsel, their bag will never be empty). Handsel Monday is the first Monday of the year, when it is customary to give money or a small gift to a child for luck. I didn’t think I’d find reason to smile on such a gloomy day; there’s a lot to be said for spreading a little sunshine in such dismal times.