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A minor detail in Christopher Howse’s Daily Telegraph column has taught me something I think I should have known: that the word ‘regularly’ need mean little more than ‘at uniform intervals’.

If I say that my aunt is a regular churchgoer, you would imagine her turning up at her local House of God most Sundays. But if by regular I mean she consistently joins worshippers on Christmas Day every year, and on no other day – that’s a different proposition entirely. The apparently Christian aunt is transformed into the aunt who makes the effort only for Christmas, probably because she likes hearing carols and feels attendance is suitable atonement for the overindulgence of the season.

I could turn this sort of lexical fastidiousness to my advantage. I shall give up alcohol for the first Saturday and Sunday in February each year, but other than that brief hiatus carry on my gin-and-tonic habit. In a few years’ time I will be able to impress my heavier-drinking acquaintances with talk of my ‘regular’ booze-free weekends.

This talk of Christmas reminds me that this will be my last blog post of the year: I’m off to Mexico very shortly, returning as 2015 dawns. So Merry Christmas to you all.

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