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SOME things just get under your skin.

They start out as some sort of resolution or new life policy but just gain a momentum of their own. Sadly, this doesn't tend to apply when it comes to gym-going regimes or diets, more little adaptations you make to your lifestyle that become obsessions.

Over the last two weeks, Mrs J and I have become consumed with one such thing which is proving to be a gruelling test of will power.

Still bearing the scars of last year's winter utility bills, we suggested to each other trying to find ways, on the odd occasion, of staving off the cold without putting the heating on.

Our only two real suggestions were more clothes - layers, my mother used to tell me, are the answer - and posting a spare duvet downstairs for emergencies.

For the first two days, we were just playing at this new lifestyle choice, telling ourselves we were saving fortunes, when in actual fact, there was no real cold to stave off.

But that didn't last long and before we knew it, Jack Frost was well and truly in town.

The first couple of nights were a struggle, as we allowed ourselves one strategically-timed hour of heating, with us relying on other keep-warm methods for the remainder of each evening, as we huddled on the sofa gazing at re-runs of Waterloo Road.

But we got through it and after the introductory 48 hours, we were totally used to the weather conditions this time of year brings.

And it was at this point something clicked, as we figured we had survived the chill with just one hour of heating, so why not drop it down to half an hour.

Two days of that and it was time to crank up the heat (figuratively, not literally, of course) once more.

But if we were to go cold turkey, we needed to think outside the box and come up with a new set of tactics.

Night one saw us come home to an ice cold house and morale was low with the prospect of not even the slightest bit of warmth.

To make matters worse, due to my football training later on, I was restricted to Coco Pops and crumpets (stitch-free fodder) for tea, meaning I couldn't even rely on the usual rise in temperature caused by the oven/hob. But, as I said, mission bill-reduction had got under our skin and there was no way we were giving it up.

Not before long, I had stopped caring about the money we were saving and was more concerned with testing myself, seeing how long I could shiver without buckling and flicking that golden switch on the boiler. Part of me hoped my fingers would eventually be so numb, I wouldn't be able to feel the knob, thus preventing me from turning it on.

But as with all addictions and obsessions, there has to come a rock bottom moment, a moment of clarity if you will.

Mine came last night, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror gearing up for bed with a ski hat, football socks and two dressing gowns on.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2009
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