New Year, Same You

Face it, you’re rubbish: tried, tested and catastrophically failed attempts at self-improvement.

2009 2010 Cambridge University Christmas Cindies Doctor Who Drinking Easter End of the decade End of the year Facebook Home Alone Macauley Culkin New Year New Years Eve Sainsbury's Student university

You’re sitting in your pyjamas on one of those nondescript days post-Christmas and pre-New Year. You’re watching Home Alone/Home Alone 2/Home Alone 3/Home Alone 4 and eating a cold turkey sandwich of by now questionable salmonella content. The debris of Christmas Day still lies around you, a Santa’s Grotto gone horribly wrong : the tree’s definitely at a 45° angle by now, Rudolph’s mashed little face stares up at you from decimated wrapping paper, and Granny’s in the corner, where she has been since the end of the Doctor Who Christmas special several days ago. Either it’s the gin or something else is very awry. It’s fair to say this is a low-point.

It is about this point – well, after Home Alone/Home Alone 2/Home Alone 3/Home Alone 4 is finished, I’ll never get sick of Kevin and co., even if Kevin is actually a markedly different child in the latter two films – that I decide to make some radical changes to my life. Quitting smoking, giving up caffeine, giving squash another go (another year older: does co-ordination increase with age?).

It is at another point, roughly two weeks later, that I give up on the façade of new year, new me. It’s a new year and, yep, I’m still shit. Nonetheless, I intend to make the customary list of resolutions, and you know you will too, if only so that you can compete with friends as to who can hold out the longest before giving up on giving up chocolate in the binge to end all binges during which – in reckless desperation at 2am in the morning – after gorging yourself on three packets of chocolate fingers, eight bags of chocolate coins and half a Yule log, you unearth that Easter egg still festering at the back of the kitchen cupboard, warped out of its ovoid shape and encrusted with that white substance that infects chocolate well past its sell-by-date, and sit in the dark recesses of the airing cupboard, gobbling without pausing for breath. You finish, sticky, suppressing vomit, twitching and officially out of the game.

The I’m-Going-To-Become-A-Completely-New-Person-And-No-One-Will-Know-What’s-Hit-Them resolution

Prone to laughing at inappropriate moments and telling stories that are met with agonising silence and bemused nods in the buttery? Liable to forget when you last had a shower/did your laundry? Only tagged in 41 photos on Facebook (and at least ten of them are from your last day at school, in which you are often to be seen standing at the back looking the other way while a groups of friends embraces one other, beaming at the camera)? But wait! It’s 2010! Throw off the shackles of obscurity and emerge into this new decade, showered and ready to unleash your latent wit upon the world! You will be invited to the bar of an evening, you will go out on a Wednesday, you will be tagged in Facebook photos!

Likelihood of success? Maybe you just haven’t met people who will appreciate the unique gems you have to offer the world. Maybe.

The I’m-Going-To-Deprive-Myself-Of-One-Of-My-‘Vices’-And-Bore-You-All-Stupid-With-My-Withdrawal-Symptoms/Self-Righteousness resolution

Chocolate. Thai Sweet Chilli crisps. Dairy. Etcetera. Two possible outcomes. Person in question turns up in social situation where – as luck/Fate/Sod’s (fucking) law would have it – the offending item in question is on offer (e.g. the bar, and there are a couple of packets of Thai Sweet Chilli doing the rounds). One ‘ignorant’ member of the party offers person in question a crisp. Cue interminable – and agonising – story about how they would love to have one, they want one soooooooooo much but they gave them up for New Year’s!! They have actually been dreaming about them, would you believe!! And so on. Person in question believes this makes them a very interesting person. I beg to differ. The alternative is, they succeed utterly in their pursuit of a lactose-free diet; cue interminable – and agonising – moralising about how their new lactose-free diet is so purifying, and, by giving up dairy, they are actually helping to feed a class of malnourished children in Africa. When questioned how they are effecting this, they change the subject to a recent study on how carbs definitely kill brain cells.

Likelihood of success? I really, really don’t care.

The I’m-Going-To-Fix-My-Disastrous-Love-Life resolution

So there’s this girl. Apart from that three minutes of savoured conversation (well, savoured by you) post-Back to School bop, you haven’t really spoken. But you’ve looked at all 1,031 of her photos on Facebook and you’ve seen so many pictures of her in the south of France with her family (July ‘07) that, really, you’ve essentially met the parents. Or maybe you chat all the time, and she always hugs you when she sees you and chats about her love life. You are her friend. Or maybe it’s that ex who dumped you unceremoniously for that fresher but with whom you’ve recently been getting on really well recently… (And she’s such a slut anyway – what is he doing with her when all your friends told you during the post-break up afternoons over a bottle/bottles of wine that you are so much hotter than she is anyway?) This is the year though. By the end of 2010, you’ll be in each other’s profile pictures, have a nickname conferred on you by your friends – through gritted teeth, strangely enough – that is a combination of both your names, and will reply to any question regarding your plans with, ‘well, we were thinking…’

Likelihood of success? You’ve seen the movies. After 90 minutes of humdrum dialogue punctuated by morose/empowering pop in equal measure depending on the demands of the dramatic situation, each of our examples ends up with boy/girl of their dreams. Except maybe the last, who finds a boy so much better than the original heartbreaker and ends up spinning in new boy’s arms at the prom while old boy gets dumped by new girl and possibly busted by Dean Fletcher for smoking a spliff. OK, I appreciate the absurdity of mocking clichés when the premise of this article is clichés. But still. 2010 is not a rom-com. Example number #1: she doesn’t fancy you, and she probably never will. Example number #2: she doesn’t fancy you, and she probably never will. Example number #3: a word of warning – getting drunk and slurring impassioned pleas to ‘give it another go’ will not help. Ultimately, whatever you ‘resolve’ to do in 2010, the resolution means absolutely nothing without the co-operation of the other person and if they don’t want to go out with you, well, er, tough.

The I’m-Going-To-Take-Up-A-New-Pursuit/Renew-My-Interest-In-An-Old-Hobby resolution

Maybe it’s the gym. Maybe it’s that clarinet, lessons for which you begged your parents for three weeks when you were twelve, after having watched Young Musician Of The Year and becoming convinced that you too could be musically-accomplished (and £2000 richer). Maybe it’s that ‘novel’ (English students – that one’s for you) you’re writing. Whatever, you see the new year as a good point to start/re-start your mammoth project.

Likelihood of success? People who fail monumentally at this one are those who set their sights too high. Let’s face it, you’re never going to get up at 7.30am every sodding day of the week, cycle to Parkside and swim 40 lengths. Aim low. This is the key to success at most things.

The I’m-Going-To-Be-A-Much-Nicer-Person resolution

Families. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Except you manage to, quite happily for eight weeks at a time. And then you go home and realise that despite essays crises, mad supervisors and Cindies, Cambridge is actually an oasis of calm compared to life at home. Forty minutes after you’ve (Dad has) unloaded all your Sainsbury’s carrier bags full of clothes and books from the car, you’ve already had half a bottle of wine and been asked to take a ‘walk’ to calm down. The younger siblings who you coo over down the phone (‘school play? Oh I’d love to come!’) are revealed, actually, to be little shits when you have to share the remote control and the last Fox's Millionaire Shortbread with them. But you know you love them, somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of your conscience and so this year, you will make more of an effort. You will have those adult discussions at the dinner table that you always envisaged yourself having by this age, rather than grunting monosyllabically and stabbing your brother with a fork as a reflex reaction when he’s just going for the ketchup. You will accompany your mother on supermarket trips, not (just) because you’re hoping she’ll buy you loads of food to take back to Cambridge, but because that would be A Nice Thing To Do. You’ll stop telling your little sister that she’s adopted and mum and dad selected her because they felt sorry for her out of all the other pitiful orphans at the orphanage.

Likelihood of success? Lucky for you, a week or so into 2010, you can go back to the oasis and not think about them for a term. This may be greatest chance of resolution success, at least until mid-March. Sit back, relax, and bask in your own self-righteous virtuousness.