Deborah Ross: New You vs Old You: only one winner

If you ask me...

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If you ask me, and because I care, I'm wondering how your New You is doing now we are some days into the New Year. Have you even glimpsed it yet? Did you get to sign up for Pilates, and that languages evening course? Or did your Old You promptly see it off? I know what Old Yous are like, as I have one myself, and they are buggers.

Invariably, it goes like this: as New Year's Eve approaches, the Old You will affect to be happy about the imminent arrival of the New You, and the possibility of real change. The Old You is fed up with itself. The Old You is fed up with being so unfit it can't whip cream without having to take breaks, panting against the fridge. The Old You is fed up with being fat. The Old You is fed-up with being a smoker. The Old You is fed up with frittering away money it can ill afford. The Old You is fed up with saying today's a non-drinking day, and then pouring itself a tumbler of Baileys, which no one in their right mind likes, but since when has the Old You ever been in its right mind? The Old You is so excited about the prospect of the New You it will say things like "Bring it on!" and "Let's get this show on the road!" and you practically have to talk it down from hanging out bunting and hiring a brass band.

So the Old You prepares eagerly for the New You. It will even set the alarm for New Year's day at 6am, "because the New You will certainly want to go for an early-morning run before researching tax-efficient saving schemes and learning Creole and shooing away the Quality Street. It may even say: "No thank you. I've had enough poor quality chocolate for one day." But what happens when the alarm goes off? The Old You panics in the face of its own obsolescence, that's what. The Old You starts whispering in your ear. It whispers: "Aren't we cosy in bed, you and I? Aren't we minded to just go back to sleep until noon?" And: "Isn't running dumb, anyway? Don't we look like someone just staggering about, but in trainers?"

The Old You behaves like an only child who, faced with a new baby sibling, wants only to smother it with a pillow. And the New You? It promptly legs it. Still, at least your Old You is always on hand to provide comfort. "Don't worry about it," the Old You will say. "Here, have a tumbler of Baileys, and a smoke. Now, are we going back to bed, or what?"

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