Between the cold and lack of funds that always accompany this season, I find myself hibernating a lot more than usual; filled with conflicting desires to indulge myself in gigs, books, college work, the show I help out on at my local student radio station - anything
to stimulate my senses - and the call of my body and mind to slow down and do nothing but daydream the nights away.
After a weekend of substances, lack of sleep and comedown cuddles in front of the TV, catching up on the wonderfully flamboyant Jason King, I find myself hiding away from the cold, curled up under a big new cosy duvet, my mattress relocated to the living room floor.
The door bell rings unexpectedly and I shrink further under the covers and turn the TV up a little...
I receive a letter from my cousin who is in his sixth year of a long prison sentence. My vivid imagination is convincing me he has been replaced with some kind of state clone to prove the benefits of prison in reforming wayward youngsters.
A couple of years ago I was so proud to hear he was doing his highers and considering getting a degree. When he first got put in I gave him an old acoustic guitar of mine which he taught himself to play well and put together a band.
Now he's doing a degree, an additional open uni course and a higher in Psychology. He still plays guitar a little but is now learning the piano and rhymes off his favourite classical pieces.
I realise this should be amazingly good news but I can't help feeling uneasy, like there's something sinister about it all. He doesn't sound like himself anymore. The way he writes betrays his character. When he went in he was intelligent with a cheeky edge which was endearing. Now his letters read like a personal ad with phrases like 'I am extremely besotted by the emotive melodies of the Romantic era'.
But then who am I to judge? Of course I'm happy he's doing so well, at least he's not going down a more destructive path while he's in there. I didn't expect him to stay the same over such a long period of time but can't help but fear at what the hell they've done to him and how far it's going to go. What's next, he'll come out wanting to join the Tories?
The mind reels as I potter about the house in my big socks, making big pots of veggie chilli, counting down the days until payday.