As the New Year lands, the editor of our new monthly digital magazine The Manual muses on the art of time – and the joy of a trashy box-set

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Is long-form television drama the true art form of our times?

Our cover star Aisling Loftus certainly thinks so. In her interview with Mary-Jane Wiltshire for this issue – snatched during a palate-cleansing shoot where she shows off the sharpest, most sophisticated high street takes on January fashion – she talks compellingly about how TV roles provide so much more scope for nuanced character development than film. Her role as Sonya in this month’s highly-anticipated BBC adaptation of War and Peace invites the often-repeated observation that last century’s sprawling realist novel is this century’s boxset.

But then one glance at Greg Taylor’s roundup of the top films of 2015, not to mention the ones to watch out for this year, and it’s clear that cinema, derivative Hollywood pap aside, is in exceedingly rude health. Justin Cook, who explains in this issue how to start your own art collection, would certainly advocate that visual arts have never been more accessible. And Finn Baird, who created a light-but-flavourful fish stew for our recipe page, can make a strong case that the food scene is our generation’s most exciting multi-sensory playground.

PHOENIX was founded on the philosophy that life is beautiful. Sure, that sounds like a cliché – all taglines are clichés – but it encases a deeply-held belief that we can be happier, healthier and more human by paying greater attention to the small daily choices we make, from the breakfast we eat to the way we chose to spend the last hour before bed.

The Manual was launched as a practical guide to making those choices easier, whether you want to know the single product that will make a real difference to your skin this year or the most effective free apps that will help you finally get your finances under control.

The common conviction here is that artistry shouldn’t just belong on a screen, or a catwalk, or behind a proscenium arch. When you see the whole world as your canvas, you start to realise that you can add little daubs of richness to the dreariest of days. And more often than not, they cost nothing at all.

Of course, life is also full of trashy escapism (check out our guiltily pleasurable boxset of the month) grubby jogging bottoms and just surviving the next damn hour. In all this month’s blah about diets and resolutions, it can be easy to forget that we’re still in the depths of winter. This is no time for perfectionism or pressure. But even if you head to one of the best pie-joints in the capital when you have a comfort food craving rather than heating up a disappointing ready meal, your year might just start to feel that bit more… new.

Time, as ever, is the true art of our times: how to spend it, where and with who. So my only resolution this year is to squeeze a bit more juice out of a spare minute here and a hour there. Because boy, does it fly.

Words: Molly Flatt

Download the latest issue of The Manual for both Apple and Android tablets via Pocketmags now.

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