Bitesize Episode 28 - Why British people suffer from the blues

Charlie Baxter

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By Charlie Baxter

Bitesize Episodes (17-32)

What's this episode about?

Charlie explores the emotions British people go through in the New Year. If you'd like to better understand why Brits feel the blues in January then take a listen to this one-man show episode along with a ton of native expressions.
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Transcript of BEP Bitesize Ep 28.mp3

Hello, hello, hello, welcome back to the British English podcast with your host, Charlie Baxter, that is me. Today we are talking about the January Blues, the January Blues. Oh dear me. This episode is being recorded in January. Hence, the relevance of it. But if you're listening to this in the future, then stick around as this will help you relate to the Brits a bit more. Because as most cultures experience a cycle of energy throughout the year, it's good to know when to go into a room full of British people glowing with positivity and when not to.

Although the truthful answer, I'd say, is never go into a room full of Brits with an undying glow of positivity. That is one reason why Brits often find it hard to enjoy North Americans, who, we believe have this constant zest for life that not even a light drizzle every other day of the year can put a dampener on.

But before we get into the energy of a January in the UK, let's visit the word blues because you might have heard it collocated with Monday, or even just as a phrase: to have the blues. And it means to feel sad or unhappy.

If you hear a tapping, that's my glasses hitting the pop filter in front of my microphone. I've recently got glasses and I'm starting to learn what I can and cannot do with them on my face. And apparently emphasising a word in the sound booth is one that I cannot do any longer because I hit the pop filter with the frames. Oh dear.

Anyway, so the Monday blues or the 'to have the blues'. There are, in fact, plenty of other phrases that have been invented to describe a similar feeling, like: to be down in the dumps, to be downhearted, to be in a funk, not a happy bunny. You could say, yeah, you could say somebody's not a happy bunny. Oh, you're not a happy bunny, are you? Or even 'wish you had never been born'.

But let's not get too down in the dumps or suicidal about all of this, as it's just the blues, which means it's temporary. That's right, it's temporary. I don't hear of a clinically depressed person ever thinking they have the blues year in, year out because it's a passing feeling. The Monday blues. Because come Tuesday, and we've almost managed to shrug it off, and by Thursday, I mean, we're ready for that Friday feeling, aren't we?

Now, before we go on, I do want to remind you that there is a free worksheet available for you to grab. Just head over to Or find it in the link below.

Now, I don't think I need to explain why we have 'the blues' on a Monday, but just to be safe. The usual work week is Monday to Friday, nine to five in the UK and although the gig economy is changing that we predominantly have the weekend to ourselves.

Friday is typically the night to let loose, meaning socialising and maybe have a few too many drinks. Saturday is a day of fun and that can come in all different shapes and sizes and then Sunday, while depending on the individual. Some might extend the weekend fun to go and watch some football and ignore the pile of dishes that need to be tended to. But others might think of Sunday as Chore Day. You know, go to Tesco's, Sainsbury's, or Waitrose, depending on one's social class to do the weekly food shop.

Come back and maybe have a cuppa, pop the plates in the dishwasher and finally sort that load of washing out before collapsing on the sofa and catching up with the latest episode of Love Island, perhaps? And what's next for this person who's just fallen asleep on the sofa watching Love Island? You've got to get up and face the music. It's Monday, you've overslept. Your boss is ringing you, saying, Where the hell are you? Your car won't start, so you've got to get the bus to work, which was late because we're in the UK and you've got a whole week ahead of the same shit. So bring on 'the Monday blues'.

Hopefully you can associate with that, right? Well, not hopefully, you know, I don't want you to have that feeling every Monday, but you can understand that a lot of people do have this feeling on a Monday. Now, if we are to imagine a weekly calendar and then zoom out to the annual one, we have January and February at the beginning of the New Year and in the UK, we often get a nice break from work from the 23rd of December till perhaps, let's say, the 3rd of January.

And being that we have two big moments that we celebrate in this week off, most of us overindulge in beer, wine, turkey, chocolate, and more bloody wine. And before the 25th of December, there was an ever building sense of hope in the air that the nation's companies capitalise on. And we actually, as a- as the public, lap it up. You know, we buy a stupendous amount of presents, food, and alcohol in preparation for the big day, the 25th of December.

And unlike our European neighbours, we hold off one more day. We don't celebrate on the 24th. We wait until the twenty fifth of December because that's when we were, quote unquote, told Jesus was born. But as of the 26th of December, there's a shift in our mood.

We feel guilty for having eaten too many roast potatoes. We start to see the cold weather for what it truly is, and not this cosy addition to the Christmas scene we'd been building since October-November time. And then the Boxing Day sales grab our attention only to realise, Oh, I have spent a lot of money in the build up to Christmas, huh? But we pull ourselves together. We say 'I'm going to be better next year!' And with the hope of that being around the corner, we do what we think is best and we keep calm and we carry on.

We pull our socks up and get stocked up on alcohol. One last time in preparation for New Year's Eve, because you absolutely have to go out with a bang, you can't not spend money on New Year's Eve, can you? Come on, it's- it's New Year's Eve, for heaven's sake! All right, all right. I will, I will spend some more money, but it's got to go on the credit card. Yep, it's going on the credit card.

Did you know that we have a 45 minute long audio book that also comes with an e-book to read, along with teaching you 10 of the most useful idioms that you can use to sound like a native level speaker? You know, the next time that you want to impress someone. Be it for a job interview or an English exam like the IELTS test. Then you can whip out one of these phrases and really wow them. We've selected these 10 because their daily idioms, they're ones that you can use in many, many situations, so you won't be wasting your time learning a random idiom that you'll never really get the chance to use. And the even better news is that we're giving this audio book an e-book away for free! And all you need to do is find it in the show notes of this episode. Head over to and find it in the home page. Or just like the free worksheet for this episode, go to that is F R E E B I E S.

Oh, oh, God. Enter January. Bloody January. The January blues. The weather's shit, I'm back in the office. I've got a notification from NatWest saying I'm overdrawn and I promised my best mate that we would do dry January together. Oh, what a stupid idea.

And now imagine a meeting room full of British people thinking this. And then in walks the intern from The States. I'm imagining a Californian female right now, where the sun doesn't stop shining and nor does her upbeat demeanour. I mean, it would probably sound something like, Oh my god. Hey, guys, how is your Christmas? Oh, I just love Regent Street. It's just so cute and adorable, you know?

Very sorry, very sorry on many levels for that. Anyone who is woke enough will be throwing an airport across the room for that stereotyping, but you know, it's all in the name of education and cultural awareness, is it not? You probably still want to take that with a huge pinch of salt. You know, no American really sounds like that, do they? If they did, I'd be worried. And there are many areas in the U.S. that have a similar climate to England. So, you know, I'm sure Seattle-ites might not be so chipper first thing in January, but they might be, they might be a little bit more than a Brit.

So yeah. Anyway, I just wanted to paint a picture that British people have this slight lull after Christmas and New Year because we put so much into the festivities in that month and then after it, we don't really know what to do with ourselves. And- and then we realise we've not only got January, but we've also got February to go through before we get so much as a whiff of spring in the air.

So we've got February looming over us and we've still got January to deal with. Dry January, dry January. It's a marketing kind of label that means you don't drink alcohol. Dry, meaning no alcohol.

I have noticed, though, that the daffodils have been venturing out or popping their heads up earlier and earlier each year. I think I even saw some come into blossom in February recently. Yeah. So maybe global warming is helping shorten the New Year Blues for Brits, but before the globe completely boils up, what do we do to get through this period? We book a holiday to a hotter climate such as the Canary Islands, Turkey, Greece or even in recent years. Some are going to Mexico, as a flight from London to Cancun is surprisingly affordable. Or if you're into skiing, which is a lot more common in the south of England than the North, we have a stereotype around that and a joke that if you're from the south, you probably ski. If you're from the north, you probably don't ski.

It's not always true. It's a stereotype, but I'm telling you then anyway. So, yeah, if you're from the south of England, perhaps you book a ski trip to France or Austria or Italy, and again in recent years, to cheaper ski resorts in the likes of Bulgaria, Slovakia or even Georgia until that broken chairlift video went viral in 2018. Did you see that one? It was- it was pretty mental. It was a ski lift, going backwards at a crazy speed, maiming multiple bargain hunting British skiers.

What else do we do to get over these blues? Well, the shops are also feeling it, feeling the pinch, we could say, Well, I don't know if they're feeling the pinch because they had a massive December. Anyway, so most sales assistants welcome the lull after the chaos that was Christmas shopping in December. Even so, the shops do what they can to break even for Q1, I guess it would be.

You know what? I've never used that abbreviation before, and I don't think I ever will again. I'm- I'm no banker wanker. I'm just a wanker that can't use corporate language without feeling unworthy of it. Yeah. Q1 quar-, the first quarter of the financial year.

Oh, and the other thing some of us do in January is New Year's resolutions. Half of us scoff at the idea. And the other half they're starting to embrace it and even keeping to them for a whole two weeks. I'm kind of joking there.

I've set myself some New Year's resolutions. Cliché as it is. I'm wanting to reach an intermediate level in Spanish, so I've restarted my Spanish classes again, bang on the first week of January. I also want to try and find a passion for my fitness. I'm- I'm struggling to go to the gym, so I'm reinventing my, my fitness schedule. So I'm going to a boxing class tonight. Who knows? Maybe I'll find that punching somebody lights out sparks joy in me, although I'm sure I won't enjoy the receiving part of this so much.

I also want to have built a bloody good pronunciation course for you. I've taken my time in contemplating what is best in regards to creating the British English podcast Pronunciation Course. So when I do get there, I feel like it will be pretty unique. So if you are interested in something like that, then make sure you've signed up to my newsletter by going to and then you will get the notifications come through when I have made the course.

But yes, what are the resolutions have I made? I want to find a team of passionate teachers who can help me provide more suitable hours for everyone in The Academy because we've got learners from all time zones, which is a little bit tricky when it comes to finding the best for everyone.

Then some personal ones, I want to do some travelling. Fingers crossed, you know, COVID at that. Whether I want to do it with a close friend from uni across Vietnam, we're thinking. We're thinking Vietnam. We want to do some motor biking as well. We don't want to die, but we do want to get that boost of adrenaline because we are adrenaline junkies when we're together.

What else is there? Oh, I want to give more money each month and raise awareness for the organisation called The Life You Can Save, which has basically gone through all of the charities in the world. And after rigorous evaluation, they have created a short list of 10 charities that help you make the biggest impact per dollar you donate. Meaning whatever you or I give, you can be sure it is being used in the most helpful way possible.

For example, the Against Malaria Foundation is on that list, so to help stop the spread of malaria for just two U.S. dollars, you can donate a long lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito net. I'll leave a link to this amazing organisation in the show notes if you wanted to learn more about it.

But to end this episode, let me tell you some of the most obvious or cliché New Year's resolutions British people have made this year. What do you think the top five include? Well, I will tell you.

At number five, we have 'be more aware and take care of mental health'. I suppose that has been much more relevant since the pandemic started.

Then number four is 'to spend more time with family and friends'. Oh, isn't that nice?

Number three is 'get fitter and do more exercise'. Nice and general, I see.

Number two is 'eat healthier' or 'change diet'!

And the most popular one is 'to lose weight'. I told you we all overindulge at Christmas, don't we?

Anyway, remember to grab that free worksheet to help you with some of the language from today's episode. I deliberately included a lot of advanced or very native words, so don't worry if you found it hard. I encourage you to go over and grab the transcripts and extended glossaries available for everyone who has joined the Premium Podcast or the Academy.

And before I go, last thing, on New Year's resolutions, let's aim to keep them specific, shall we? I could just say I want to improve my Spanish and get fitter, but I'm being a little bit more specific with the level I want to achieve. And then I'm also identifying the reason why I'm not keeping fit at the moment. I'm not passionate about going to the gym and lifting some weights, so I've actually quit my gym and I'm going to find a new sport that can keep me active.

Anyway, I could do better with the measurable part and the achievable part of all these smarter goals. But this isn't a self-help show now, is it? Anyway, here's to enjoying some rhythm and blues instead of having the blues. Happy New Year! My name is Charlie and I'll see you next week on the British English podcast.

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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

Character: Chris:
I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

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