How a two-year-old photo might help shape the new you | Emma Beddington

Remember the days before we’d all faced buckloads of anxiety and loss? Find a picture of yourself from back then for New Year inspiration

I am writing from the past, so many things remain uncertain for me about Christmas 2021. Will my husband’s parents have managed to adjust their tablet screen to show us something other than the ceiling, or my mother-in-law’s ear? Did we have our usual fight about my husband eating foods at a time other than that which I have arbitrarily decreed to be the correct time? (No crystal ball required for this: yes.) Where have we landed on the farce-to-fury British politics rollercoaster and how deftly has the Queen’s speech skirted it?

Specifically, I find myself wondering what’s on television: not the programmes, the adverts. Usually, the evening of the 25th marks an abrupt shift from lingering shots of whatever salted caramel prawn crown Frankenfood Heston has dreamed up this year and baffling perfume ads in which Johnny Depp stamps on a guitar in cowboy boots then uses the shards to carve his name into a buffalo or something, to soft white sandy beaches lapped by Tiffany blue seas set to calypso tunes. Traditionally this is the travel industry’s peak period, as we collectively realise there is nothing to look forward to other than endless night and scrabble to book a fortnight in Crete, our deposit a down payment on optimism.

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